Expanded Thoughts on my first GOP Convention.

(Here’s a first time attendee’s thought on the convention. – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)

The 2014 MAGOP convention was an instructive experience for me.  It was the first convention I ever attended, and I’ll spare no details on some of the things I observed. I’ll start with the good, because unfortunately there was a lot that could have been improved, and a lot that was plain foul.

The Good News:

I got to see a lot of activists and friends at the convention, the food at Agganis is pretty good, and I think the line-up of speakers was very well balanced. The musical talent was also friendly and professional. Registration tables were well-staffed when I arrived. Sadly, that’s the end of the good news.

Bakerfest2014:

It is incredibly unseemly to have speakers proclaiming “Charlie Baker will be our next Governor” from the podium when the race is still contested. I have no reason to believe the MA GOP vets the remarks of all speakers, but I will bet it vets the remarks of the honorary chairman. The fact that Sisk made this statement from the podium while acting in his official capacity says everything you need to know about the MA GOP.

[Short shoutout:  Rep. Keiko Orrall bucked this trend in her remarks, the only one of several mentioning the Governor’s race to do so, and left the question of who our gubernatorial candidate would be open. God Bless Keiko Orrall. I’m glad she represents part of my city, and I hope someday she represents the entire state. She is class personified.]

Additionally, Charlie Baker had extended music for his introductory speech and after his remarks – including a walk-down to the convention floor to shake hands-, but before the vote. Fisher received no such luxury.

If you’re wondering why there are so many allegations of fraud and distrust in the vote counts to come, you can blame it directly on the fact this convention looked like it was rigged for Baker from early on. This falls squarely on the shoulders of the convention organizers. I’d say shame on you, but it’s clear shame is not a condition you’re capable of. In the postings after the convention, I’ve seen strong Baker supporters that were outraged by this. And on that note:

Ballot-less voting:

This is the first vote I’ve ever taken without a ballot. What was done is your State Committee Man/Woman went around with a tally sheet, and because the arena had so many rows, you basically had to say your candidate’s name audibly. This is a stupid system that invites intimidation, with no audit trail back to an individual vote, and is the worst system I have ever seen. This is why there are multiple posts on Facebook claiming a State Committee Member crossed out a name and circled another. If the system was individual balloted, that would not be a substantial problem. Let your voters cast their own vote, in private. You could have even used the sticky notes included in our tote bags, or included a small ballot with our delegate ID lanyards. Hey, maybe I’ll see if I can get on the convention planning committee next time!

Very Perceivable Recess:

On an ironic note, we had several recesses; the longest of which we were told would be “brief.” The pace of the convention was very slow, and it dragged out for quite a while, going long even though there were only two possible contested votes. I have heard this was because the method of tallying votes was being explained and / or contested (see above, for how horrible the system was). Either way, time management was definitely an issue. The Agenda we received really should have been timestamped to the best of its ability.

Anyone who tells you this convention was good, or well-run, or successful, is being dishonest. I have nothing to compare this convention to, but I know it’s an experience I never want to see again. At least I got to talk to all my activist friends from all across the state.

The Big Question:

So everyone wants to know how I voted, I presume. Some people say they voted proudly for Baker. I voted strategically for him. The posts on RMG about fundraising and VoteCoreValues about a recent Fisher mailer convinced me that Fisher was not able to raise the money necessary to be a good champion for my values and issues, and that he was not seasoned enough to know the right language. No candidate, regardless of their views should use the phrase “force opinions” in a mailer. It’s a psychological equivalent to saying “don’t think about a pink elephant,” and having it so near the words “pro-life” is not helpful.

I understand conservative activists have limited time and resources. Having to essentially wage two wars – the first against winning people over three years of goodwill Baker built statewide working on / with other campaigns in a primary, and then again to beat the Democrat machine in the general to win a single office is not a good use of resources. I know conservatives could do that. If every last one of us dropped all other candidates and worked for Fisher non-stop at a life-sacrificing pace through November 4th. That would never happen in reality – conservatives are too independent and the candidates they work for usually have their principled loyalty. I am presently taking a lot of criticism for taking this stance, which I well expected, but I’m one of those absolutists who will tell you my actions and reasons unabashedly, and let come what may. Perhaps I should have abstained instead of an affirmative vote, but honestly – Baker has a track record of advancing conservative issues and candidates. It is my hope he will not abuse or betray the trust that many conservative activists have given him should he win the corner office.

Final Note:

I pray that Charlie’s backers at the MAGOP are getting an earful from him over their idiotic spectacle last Saturday, because their ham-handedness most certainly made people vote the other way out of distaste for the cheer squad. He might have gotten the 90%+ they wanted if they didn’t spend the convention basically telling Fisher voters to pound sand. The message was clear: “Charlie will be victorious! There’s nothing you can do about it! See, he even has an extended intro and celebratory walk-off! ”

If they don’t have enough confidence in Baker not to stack the scales, it doesn’t speak well for them, does it? If Baker himself was involved in these decisions, and I do not believe he was, then we’re in very, very deep trouble this November. Way not to run a convention, MAGOP.

~Brian Kennedy

Republican Activist, Iconoclast General

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