the would be Governor stoops for a spot of Tea : Karyn Polito to be Charlie Baker;s running mate
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A number of high-visibility Massachusetts pols did the attention-getting unexpected today. Perhaps the biggest such event of the day, however, was not a happy move and had the feeling of a surrender : Charlie Baker, who almost certainly will be the Republican nominee for Governor next year, anointed one Karyn Polito as his Lieutenant Governor sidekick.
Who IS Karyn Polito ? A former State Representative from Shrewsbury and the 2010 Republican candidate for Treasurer. And why her ? It is speculated that Baker chose her because ( 1 ) Baker lost women voters in the 2010 Governor election by 24 points and ( 2 ) she is popular with the Worcester County Tea folks. As I wrote three days ago, Polito recently spoke at an event on the South Shore at which the featured guest was one Allen West, a stridently contemptuous, Tea party favorite and one-term (defeated) Florida Congressman. Polito is said to have praised West in her own speech at that event. That would be reason enough to wonder why Baker would link his candidacy to Polito, who served as campaign chair for Michael Sullivan’s right-wing US Senator campaign earlier this year. Sullivan’s opposition to marriage equality (and of course to transgender civil rights) mirrored Polito’s own recent legislative record. (Baker’s campaign says tat Polito has since come around and now shares his views on social issues.)
All of this represents a huge shift for Baker, who in 2010 chose as his running mate Richard Tisei, an openly gay State Senator who vigorously supports lifestyle civil rights — indeed, he was the original legaislative sponsor of the transgender rights bill that was enacted as law last year. As it happens, Polito, too, has made her own huge shift. During the Romney years she was — like almost all Massachusetts Republicans — strongly pro-choice and supportive of marriage equality. Of course we all know what Mitt Romney did in the years since he left he Massachusetts governorship. Polito has simply followed his example, bowing her reformist record to the voices who want to repeal all reform.
Such is the politician whom Baker has chosen as his symbol this campaign cycle : a gravatar of reaction, a face of opposition to nearly everything the GOP has stood for in Massachusetts since it was founded. Well might I call the Baker-Polito ticket “anti-Republican.”
Baker had other options. He could have chosen State Representative Geoff Diehl, a social progressive who spearheads the “Tank the Gas Tax” movement. He might have gone really bold and picked Pamela Julian, leader of the League of Women Voters and a force in Boston. Elizabeth Childs of Brookline was a possibility. I would have preferred any of these.
Will this ticket likely succeed with Massachusetts voters ? As hardly anybody votes for a Lieutenant Governor, in the end it probably won’t matter to anyone who isn’t a political junkie. But it should. A successful candidacy gives the angry anti’s of the Tea party a credibility that right now they thankfully lack.
^ John Connolly as WHAT ? Mayor Walsh’s new school superintendent ? Not damn likely
No sooner had I digested this swig of political castor oil than news came that, in an interview by radio host Jim Braude, Mayor-elect Marty Walsh said that he “absolutely do(es) not rule out asking John Connolly to be his new superintendent of schools.”
WTF ? Immediately came the waves of outcry from the teachers union activists, the Diane Ravitch groupies, and the opponents of charter schools and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. That was to be expected. But I too, a supporter of Connolly and his “school transformation” vision, found the suggestion a red herring — or maybe a sly nick. Connolly is screwed by this knee-chop remark no matter how he responds — IF he does respond. His best response being to not respond at all. Clearly John Connolly has a ton of career options better than the tainted biscuit that Walsh so suavely served up.
Whoever agrees to be Mayor Walsh’s superintendant of schools is bound to disappoint almost everyone : school parents wanting big reform, the Teachers Union opposing every reform except its own politically unlikely agenda, the administrators, principals, kids — you name it. Boston’s public schools need significant reconfiguration; almost any new superintendent won’t be able to get it done. Why should John Connolly descend into that vortex ?
^ Guess who is heading to Israel as a guest of the ADL ? Yup, Council Felix G. Arroyo.
No sooner had I digested the Connolly suggestion than Councillor Felix G. Arroyo announced that he is visiting Israel next week as a guest of the Anti-Defamation League. This surprised me. Most politicians allied with the Labor Left — and Arroyo is definitely there — are supporters of the Palestinians, not the ADL. So what is up ? Politicians make trips to Israel when they have high officer in mind. Might Felix G. Arroyo be thinking of running for Lieutenant Governor ? It would make sense. He would enhance the Democratic ticket no matter which of the four likely hopefuls becomes the nominee. He’d be an inspired choice. Is Arroyo on it ?
—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere
NOTE : this is article was updated December 5, 2013 at 8:00 am.