I really don’t know any Republican office holder or Party operative in Massachusetts whom I respect as much as I respect Keiko Orrall. And I can’t think of any one whom I like as much as I like Keiko, either. So when she called me to tell me she was standing for National Committeewoman my only serious question was: “how can I help?”
The thing I like most about Keiko is that she is just really smart. She seems to be perpetually observing and synthesizing and planning. Indeed talking to Keiko can be a little exhausting because she always seems to be reading two layers deeper than what you are saying. When you’ve got Keiko’s attention, you’ve got a whole lot. And what Keiko is synthesizing and planning is usually how to make Massachusetts a better place and how to make it a more conservative place.
The second thing I like about Keiko is that she is a straight shooter. I don’t need to remind anyone here that politics in Massachusetts is no cookie baking contest – and that is particularly true of politics in the Republican Party. (To paraphrase Wallace Stanley Sayre: the reason Massachusetts Republican Party politics is so bitter is because the stakes are so low). So in this environment it is a relief to find an oasis of integrity. In addition to being honest and her word being trustworthy, part of Keiko’s integrity stems from the fact that she makes decisions for herself rather than relying on some perception of how her decision is going to look to other people. This is a rather astonishing trait for a politician.
That Keiko is a nonstop fireball of energy is by now legendary in the Commonwealth. Forget talking to her. Even following Keiko on Facebook is exhausting. I am actually convinced that there are at least three of her running around.
In all seriousness, I think that Keiko could easily be Governor of the Commonwealth someday. I would campaign for her in a heartbeat.
I would like to end my endorsement right there but I feel like I have to comment on the Battle Royale that is playing out in Massachusetts Republican circles these days, by which I mean of course the battle between the “establishment and the activists.” I know that that really doesn’t fully capture the character of the two armies, but I think we all know who is on which team if I use those words.
I have great respect and admiration for people on both sides of this debate and that includes notably my regard for Channel Prunier and Steve Aylward and for Charlie Baker and Betty Poirier (just to list the first few names that pop to mind). On the other hand, there are people on both sides for whom I have little or no respect at all.
(No doubt they feel the same way about me).
My cartoon level understanding of all this fighting (and I am happy to hear differently if I am misinformed) is that the issue is whether and to what degree the Party should push social conservative values in its platform, etc. For the record, I am pro-choice (with caveats) and opposed to gay marriage (with caveats). So I believe I am, in the technical political science jargon, a “Squish.”
But while I know very little about politics (as I think I have amply demonstrated in my two runs for Congress) I do know one thing. And that is this. We all live in Massachusetts and not in Idaho or Oklahoma. Try eating a Massachusetts potato or cow if you aren’t convinced. We are the home of Tip “the government programs that made America great” O’Neill and Ted “Robert Bork’s America” Kennedy. We’ve got Liz “you didn’t build that” Warren and Ed “how much more empty can a seat get?” Markey. And we’ve crept through eight years of a Patrick Administration whose destructiveness was only limited by its ineptness.
We now have the infamous corner office with windows on two sides of the room. It has two competing and yet complementary viewpoints. We should do what we can to keep the office and both of its perspectives.
Just my diatribe.
But in the meantime (sorry I left you hanging there for a minute, Keiko), you can believe that Keiko Orrall will be not only clever and powerful as National Committeewoman – she will also be fair.
I know the lines of the State Committee Persons are drawn. I have no idea who is still out there in no-man’s land. But if you are there, I advocate you vote for Keiko.