Let’s start with what this post is NOT about:
- It’s not about contrasting the records of the candidates. There are plenty of other posts for that.
- It’s not about making a last minute plea to consider one candidate over the other.
- It’s not about specific criticisms of anyone either elected or incumbent on the State Committee.
So what is it about? It’s about what the Republican Party is going to do to reform itself, and how the 80 elected members of the State Committee are going to start approaching that tonight. The reason I and many others ran for those positions is because anyone suggesting the Republican Party has spent the last four years increasing its appeal is living a fantasy. Even the oft-cited personal approval rating of Governor Baker is thin gruel when Republican registration has actually gone down since his election.
Why is that so? Because registration doesn’t increase through osmosis. There is no one who follows the thought process: “I like Charlie Baker! Time to go to the Registrar of Voters and change party affiliation!” Ultimately, the people responsible for growing our registration reside on the State Committee – working with the local committees to make this happen.
Changing the Trajectory
There are other responsibilities. I haven’t heard any rumblings about people running for MassGOP Chair, but I would ask the 80 members of the State Committee to consider this: Our party chair attacked many of you or your predecessors simply for voting for the platform your constituent local party members wanted. Other State Committee members joined in that attack and unfortunately those that did were not displaced. It was far more important for them that we “not embarrass” then-candidate Charlie Baker.
This same party chair presided over the 2014 Convention where Mark Fisher was denied ballot access by violating convention rules to count the blanks, costing our party over $200,000 in a legal settlement. This convention was our next big event after the 2012 Delegate Caucuses, where after being duly elected the MassGOP then decided to invent a method of disqualification after the fact. Mercifully the author of that mechanism is now off the committee. Our current chair was not in office during that atrocity but that person also did not break the cycle of these behaviors.
My point is that the trajectory of the Republican Party to the average person is that we’re a bunch of do-nothings who, at best, sit around praising the fact that we got a single, almost invariably one-term official into a high office this decade just like we did last decade and the decade prior to that. The only people who have the ability to change that perception in the next four years are the 80 people voting on something important tonight.
The vote tonight is mostly symbolic of what approach the 80 people will take. They have an incumbent National Committee Woman who, almost to the person, can point to funds she raised for a candidate or candidates in their district. Chanel Prunier can answer the question “What have you done for me lately?” to basically every committee member regardless of how they came to be on the State Committee.
Their alternative is displaying unflinching loyalty to Governor Baker via his endorsed candidate, under the political threat that, just like me, they too might get about $16,000 worth of mailers (4 mailers at about 4k a piece for my district) spent against them in four years. Several of the people on the committee already beat that action, so it’s meaningless to them. There is also no comfort that Governor Baker will reciprocate any loyalty. Several people are walking into the State Committee meeting tonight with knives in their back bearing the inscription “Property of Charles D. Baker.” If you’re on the fence about any votes tonight, you know who those people are. Talk to them before the meeting.
I say these things because these are facts that are not in dispute. I say this because for weeks on end the Boston Globe has been running headlines about who “controls” the state committee and reading comments even on this site about how Charlie Baker deserves to “pick his team.” With respect, the Republican Party is bigger than any one man or woman and it by necessity it must be.
The Bottom Line
Who are the 80 people on the State Committee going to start rewarding tonight?
After this vote, more votes will be coming soon after. Every last one of them will be monitored, of this you can be assured.
One of those later votes will be for chair of the MassGOP. I would urge the newly elected members to take seriously their roles given hundreds of thousands have been spent to influence which people have them. Most critically in fact, because more money was spent there than on the two legislative races we lost on March 1st because – to put it to a fine point – on that day Dean Tran and Stephanie Peach were getting robocalls from Governor Baker for the State Committee races instead of for their own State Rep races.
You should care because these 80 people have a choice. Do they signal the Republican Party intends to fight to regain Massachusetts at all levels, or do they signal it intends to be the Governor’s dumping ground for loyalists who in many cases at each vote are given the choice between Charlie’s way or personal / political pain.
We still need reform. We still need to prove to the voters we can do the basics of getting a caucus or convention right. That’s the choice the 80 people are making tonight and over the next few months.