MAGOV14 : FUNDRAISING AS A ROUTE TO UNITY — THE BAKER APPROACH

1 Jack Connors1 Mitt Romney 2013

^ Jack Connors raised big money in 2012 to defeat mitt Romney. Now they’re united for Team Baker

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Tonight, Jack Connors, the legendary powerful finance guy who bundled huge sums for President Obama in 2012, will co-host a Big dollar Affair on behalf of Charlie baker, the Republican candidate for Governor. his co-host ? Mitt Romney, the man who in 2012 Connors worked to defeat.

You read correctly. Jack Connors and Mitt Romney are co-hosting tonight’s big Charlie Baker fundraiser.

I have attended several Baker fundraisers — at least two dozen, beginning late in May. At all of them, Baker has been hosted by men and women of both parties. The talk that baker gives at these affairs is always about his plans for state government; his vision, his method, his readiness to do what works regardless of which party –or no party — originates it. Baker’s fundraiuders are almost part of bhis message. They symbolize it, exemplify it in human presence.

This is far from the usual. Most campaign fundraiders I have been to — tons of them, by hundreds lof candidates — in my longish career in local politics draw only upon the candidate’s close personal supporters. They draw lines between the candidate and opponents. They have an edge, an opposition in mind. Not so baker’s fundraisers. For him, the opponent is an idea, a mindset : resistance to change.

Most people who care about how Massachusetts state government is run want change, big change. They see the need. But in the usual course, the competing impetus of party politics — and almost all the activists belong to a party — draw them in opposite directions, to serving party interests rather than the interests of all of us. that is not how Baker’s fundraising events work. Party interests just don’t get talked about. Ther public interest is what Baker speaks to, and the people who hear him — at least when I’ve witnessed — respond to that, want it, applaud it.

Baker can take this route as a practical matter because the Republican party in Massachusetts, whose nomination he runs on, is so small that it has very little pulling power. If baker wins 52 percent of the major candidate vote on November 4th — that’;s my prediction — at least 82 percent of it will come from voters who are not Republican. Think aboiut that. Less than one out of five Baker voters will be Republicans. The overwhelmingly majority of his voters will be “everybody else.” That’s a lot of pull.

Unity is thus not only the thene of baker’s campaiyn but also its structure, its math, its reality. Because most of us want unity in state administration, rather than gridlock or disunity, the Baker message — the Baker fact — has enormous power to persuade.

Even many of those who, as Massachusetts Democrats representing a bit more than one-third of us — but more than three quarters of those who currently govern us — want the unity that Baker brings. But they are pulled in the opposite direction, toward the generic Democratic campaign passively offered by martha coakley because Democratic party dynamics cannot, in their mind or interest, be set aside : not with the 2016 Presidential campaign so near at hand. In 2016 there will be no incumbent President seeking re-election, not to mention a Democratic President inevitably re-nominated. Thus every democratic party component is jockdeying for influence : public employee unions, environmental activists, advocatesof banking reform, social service workers, the AFL-CIO, Mayors. this jockeying enormously shaped last year’s mayor races in boston and New York : union-backed candidates won both. The same factor works in the goverbor race, even more strongly, to keep many supporters of unified state administration from joining the unity team.

To these Democrats it doesn’t really matter if Martha Coakley wins. Most of them didn’t want her as their nominee in the first place. But her campaign requires their participation as each seeks to win the pole position as the Presidential nominating process begins a scant three months from now.

If Charlie Baker does become governor, these interests will work with the fact, as they always have, both from the outside and through the legislature, in which the Democrats will have veto-proof majorities. With the legislature and their control of Boston politics to safeguard their interests, they’ll devote their major energy to the Presidential nomination without much regret at all of a Baker win. After all, though few can say it, Baker will be very ready to work with the Boston building trades unions, the Hotel and Hospitality Workers who staff the building boom, the IBEW who staff the industrial recovery that Baker seeks. Evenh the service workers of SEIU might find Baker a friend, not the enemy that their ads now picture him.

It happened often during the Weld and Cellucci adminstrations. It can happen again and probably will.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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