Baker Shouldn’t Let The Crisis Within The GOP Go To Waste

As the Fisher/State GOP debacle slouches towards another legal venue in search of a resolution, GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker shouldn’t allow this intra-party crisis to go to waste. He should take the following actions:

1) Baker Should Demand That Mark Fisher Be Placed On The GOP’s 2014 Primary Ballot.

It’s clear that Fisher was screwed out of his 15% vote by some of the Republicans in charge of the convention playing fast & loose with the rules. This is the official opinion of an impartial judge. The resulting fiasco has made the GOP an object of derision not just among the political talking heads but in the eyes of knowledgable voters. The longer this idiocy plays out, the more damaged the Republican brand will be by the time Election Day rolls around.

By demanding – not “asking” – that the State Committee allow Fisher to be on the ballot, Baker shows leadership in seizing the opportunity to end the controversy ASAP while the issue is newsworthy in the early part of the year. By summer, it’ll be a footnote; By autumn, it’ll be a faded memory inside the political memory hole. Such a demand by Baker will force the media to focus on him. How he handles a crisis within his own party could in real time demonstrate the managerial qualities of his leadership style. As the self-inflicted drama plays itself out in public, Baker can use the free media’s spotlight to effectively re-introduce himself to the voters in a way that paid media can’t. It would’ve been more effective had Baker initiated this kind of action immediately after the convention but better late than never.

Baker’s demand would mean he would have a primary to fight. He should embrace the opportunity to do so. Why?

2) A Primary Presents Baker An Opportunity To Outline His Vision For The GOP & His Vision For Governor.

Congressional Republican candidate Richard Tisei has made it clear that should he win his race, he’ll mold the GOP into his narrow version of what the party should be. That’s why many grassroots Republicans in his district will stay home, ignore his race as they vote for other Republicans in other races, or – out of spite – vote for Tisei’s Democrat rival.

Thankfully Baker has abjured Tisei’s kamikaze approach to winning elections. Over the last few years, he’s worked with a variety of grassroots Republicans. He’s built up a lot of good will among them. But the complaint remains – & to some extent I’ve voiced it myself – that Baker lacks vision not only for the party but (most importantly) for the state itself.

A GOP primary will force Baker to hone those visions & have them tested under the heat of Op-Ed articles, candidate debates, & the normal give-&-take of a candidate being grilled by the voters. Because the process allows both Baker & Fisher to air their respective visions in a public manner, how they & their supporters conduct themselves will be as important to voters as their respective platforms. If they keep the focus of the primary on the issues, there’s no reason why the loser of the primary can’t assist the winner in beating the standard bearer for the Democrat Party in November.

3) Baker Should Demand The GOP State Committee Replace Its Executive Body With A New Team Of People.

In order for the party to reach some form of closure from the 2014 GOP Convention debacle, some of the people responsible for the convention’s mismanagement need to be held publicly accountable. GOP Chairwoman Kirsten Hughes, in particular, needs to be replaced with someone not associated with the taint of scandal that hangs over the state party’s mishandling of its own convention. The GOP won’t have any credibility with the public attacking Democrat mismanagement of the state if it ignores the mismanagement of its own party by some of its own leaders.

By making such a demand, Baker reinforces his public image as a take-charge kind of guy – not a feckless voyeur of events that seem to be out of his control – who gets things done no matter how controversial the issue. Voters today have a hunger for a leader who exhibits decisiveness. That hunger springs from the public’s painful experience of suffering under the long Reign of Error that has characterized the gubernatorial terms of Governor Man-Child.

The clean slate will reinvigorate the grassroots (especially if a special election for the office of chair produces a candidate that unites all the factions within the GOP). If the new executive team keeps the party united against the Democrats in November, then the GOP may see some significant victories within this election cycle.

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