1 Baker and Coakley BG

The race for Governor of Massachusetts is now set. It will be Charlie Baker versus Martha Coakley.

That one is a Republican and the other a Democrat means less than observers may think. A majority of Massachusetts belongs to neither party, and most who do belong to ine or the other party don’t necessarily sign on to the party’s platform. In Massachusetts a solid majority votes for the candidate, period.

Still, self-identiied Democrats outnumher self-identified Republicans by three to one; and most self-identifieds vote the party they identify with. Thus Baker’s task is a harder one than just to outgun Coakley.

Still, if Baker does what i think he ought, the race is his to lose. He’s a far more accomplisued manager than Coakley, advocates much more specific reforms than she has, and has a far more politically potent running mate (Karyn Polito) than Coakley has ended up with. Steve Kerrigan has strong credentials within the Democratic party structure, but Polito has been a selectwoman, state representative, and businesswoman. There really is no comparison.

So Baker shoild continue to do more of exactly what he vhas already been doing :

(1) advocating meaningul, dramatic mangerial reforms to a state administration that, under Deval patrick these past four years, has broken down miserably

(2) pursue the North Shore (including Boston “north of the Harbor”) and Eastern Middlsex County vote, much of it Italian name as is Polito, as his “homeboy base.”

(3) make clear that his vision for Massachusetts is exactly what our governor’s office has always seen, these past 24 years beginning with Bill Weld : expanding the Boston economy’s success to cities beyond Route 495; bringing progressive social services to all who need them, well managed and accountable; and assure best practices to all the state’;s schhols, public and charter.

(4) keep outreaching to all the communities of color and ethnicoty, to immigrants, and to people of diverse lifestyles, in the cities and elsewhere in our state.

At the same time, Baker should be very clear that while he has the background and the commitment to bring efficiency, transparency, and accountability to state administration and will fault the Patrick administration where it need be faulted, Coakley cannot make that criticism and probably can’t effect those changes. Baker should add that the Speaker, Robert DeLeo, will work with him much more accountably than with Coakley, because as Baker can command state administration, DeLeo will not feel a need to legislate change without attending on the Governor’s progress.

The critique is certainly there, from the two hundred million dollar health connector collapse to the failure of DCF, from more hundreds of millions of dollars in local aid cuts to poor, even scandalous, appointments to some high-level administrative positions. Coakley has accepted Deval Patrick’s support (the Patrick endorsement did AG candidate Warren Tolman no good, by the way, on Primary day); how pointedly she can she now critique him ?

Baker has the advantage of being able to stay on course — consistency which in itself may convince many voters that his hand on the wheel is a steady one. Coakley, meanwhile, will have to change utterly, from vague and glib to — to whatever she now isn’t. Not exactly a sign of sureness.

And now the numbers : Baker had 31 to 32 percent of all pre-primary voters in hand. He supposedly wins 44 percent of Grossman voters, who equal about 6 percent of the state. That’s 38 percent. He also likely wins five of Don Berwick’s 22 percent. that’s another two percent of the vote, giving Baker 40.

Coakley won 42 percent of the Democratic primary vote. That’s aabout 16 percent of the state. She wins 32 percent of Grossman voters and, probably, 17 of Berwick’s 22 points. that adds 9 points, giving her 25 percent of the vote. Coakley also wins about one third of “unenrolled” voters, adding another 17 points to her total of 42 points.

The decision thus rests with the 18 percent who are undecided. Most are no-party voters. As Baker wins no-party voters about 7 to 4, he should win the 18 percent by about 11 to 7, giving him a 52 to 48 win in November.

That’s about how I see it. Possibly even a little better, if baker can take a few of Coakley’s votes away.

This is, by the way, very much in line with how we’ve elected all our governors in Massachusetts (except Deval Patrick) since Bill Weld’s 1990 election changed the entire shape of Massachusetts governor elections : by four to six points over a compromised Democratic opponent. The same reality holds ; a superior, more flexible and independent, “blue ribbon” candidate running as a Republican, and a better run campaign resting on the need, administratively and legislaively, to balance the huge power possessed by the Speaker of the House.

That reality applies now maybe more than even in 1990.

—– Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


photo (16)

^ big winner of a big bold campaign : Charlie baker & running mate karyn Polito

—- —- —-

We’ve written, in previous op-eds, that there are actually two separate Republican parties in Massachusetts : the GovernorGOP and the “Grass Roots’ GOP. or the past 25 years or so, since the election of Bill Weld, the two GOPs have gone their separate ways. Not so yesterday. This time the two clashed, and in every case I am aware of, the GovernorGOP won.

The “GovernorGOP” is, as the name implies, dedicated to winning the Governorship. The “Grass Roots” GOP has contented itself, more or less, with winning the few state legislature districts where enrolled Republicans have sufficient numbers to carry the day. These different objectives have made the two GOPs opposites . The Governor GOP tailors its campaigns to the Massachusetts majority, which for at least 160 years has been progressive, even radical, a values-voter electorate optimistic and reformist. The “Grass Roots’ GOP, contrary, has become ever more pessimist, a party of rejection. It has contempt for Massachusetts majority sentiment, and the smaller the mass of Republicans in a “Grass Roots’ district, the more extreme the rejection. Today’s “Grass Roots’ GOP seems more interested in opposing a majority whose views it despises than seeking to win an election.

(Case in point : the only communities carried on September 9th by Mark Fisher, the rejection candidate for Governor were in the state’s far west, where these days statewide Democrats regularly win by 30 points, margins larger than almost anywhere else in the state.)

The divergence was but an annoyance until this year, when the Grass froots rejectionists captured the GOp state committee and proceeded to bulk arty platform with one rejection ater another. Nationwide, the Gop has seen the disastrous consequence of rejection and has begun to fight back, and to win, against the anti-everything GOP. The same fight was guaranteed to Massachusetts when, in several legislative districts, rejectionist candidates forced primary fights onto GovernorGOP types.

The rejectionists lost every single battle that I have tracked :

photo (1)

^ defeating the rejection party in its Central Mass heartland : State Senate hopeful Mike Valanzola and the 2nd Franklin’s Susannah Whipps Lee

In Franklin County, legislature candidate Susannah Whipps Lee trounced “core values” candidate Karen Anderson. In the city of Attleboro, popular Bert Buckley turned back a strong challenge — Bristol County seems the stronghold of GOP rejectrionism — by “Christian Conservative” Jefftey Bailey. In suburban Worcester, David Muradian beat Tea Party- backed Shawn Craig. In the big and very rural State Senate District west of Worcester, EMC executive Mike Valanzola handily defeated James Ehrhard, a rejectionist endorsee.

1 john chapman

civil rights for all beats “gun rights” for the ego ; John Chapman carries the GOP’s founding message to a 2014 victoiy in the 9th Congress District’;s GOP primary

The 9th Congress District (in which Here and Spohere has its home, in New Bedford), there was a four way GOP primary between GovernorGOP John Chapman and no fewer than three rejectionidt candidates. Strongest of these was Mark W. Alliegro, a foursquare advocate of “gun rights” supported by the state’s biggest rejectionist organization, the so-called Massachusetts Republican Assembly. Chapman, who in 2013 was US Senate maverick Dan Winslow’s right hand man, won about 500 more votes than Alliegro and therein captured the Primary.

Biggest win of all was Charlie Baker’s. The governor candidate of the GovernorGOP smashed reectionist Mark Fisher by three to one.

It was not a good night for the Massachusetts Republican Assembly (which has no connection at all with the GOP state committee despite the name). It was a very good night for those GOP activists who believe that the party’s purpose is to win elections.

It seems odd that the big issue in a major party’s primary should be whether or not to win elections. But to not understand this is to misperceive the dynamics of a minority paty. The smaller a political party — and in masschusetts the GOP claims only about 12 percent of voters — the less it believes that it can win any elections of note and thus the more ready it is to surrender to rejecrionism. It’s a classic story of sour grapes.

Baker and his running mate Karyn Polito — who was once an ally of the rejectionists; today she is about as passionate at accepting as any candidate I know  — have pushed their campaign of positive reform and attention to state government’s social justice responsibilities physically into the state’s cities and adopted as their own the messages and needs of city voters, including voters of color and lifestyle difference. Some observers feared that by doing so, Baker and Polito would ‘alienate the base.’ Yet the oposite happened. Baker and Polito have managed to defeat “the base” and to substitute a new “base,” one that speaks their positivist language. The consequences can only be revolutionary for a GOP that badly needs to be overthrown.

Of course voting for candidates who want to win elections is only the irst step. Now these candidates have to actually go out nd win a few. If that doesn’t happen, rejection will surely make a comeback.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere