CHARLIE BAKER IN BOSTON, PART 2 : THE FIGHT FOR BOSTON AND A NEW GOP

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^ Charlie Baker, his wife Lauren, and running mate Karyn Polito at a new-Boston-ish meet and greet in Charlestown

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Tuesday’s results in the Governor election make very clear that a fight, begun in last year’s Mayor election, continues over what kind of politics will direct the Big City’s future, a fight that will also determine whether the Massachusetts GOP can acquire some lasting measure of public policy power.

To be specific : Baker’s vote improved most over Scott Brown’s 2010 vote in precincts carried by John Connolly in last year’s mayor election. Though Baker won some precincts carried in that race by Marty Walsh, Baker’s vote in Walsh precincts either stayed the same as Brown’s or went down.

Baker drew greatest strength in precincts that epitomize the new, prosperous, technology Boston. He was a Downtown, Charlestown, North End, Waterfront, South End, West Roxbury candidate. Sound familiar ? It should. John Connolly was the same.

Granted that Baker did much better than Connolly in most of the “old Boston” precincts; but where he lost ground, or gained none, in those precincts from Brown’s 2010 achievement, he topped Brown significantly in the John Connolly part of Boston. And why not ? Both men spoke the language of citizen reform, of innovation, opportunity, technology, and social and cultural liberalism. Both men spoke of enterprise, prosperity, envitronmental conscience, effective government.

All of these policy pursuits are gaining election day strength in the City. For decades, Boston politics had been dominated by inward-looking, skeptical, pessimistic people who distrusted big ideas, and the world beyond Route 128, and who eschewed change; people much more interested in holding onto what they had than chancing or risk-taking. This mindset provened just enough to give Marty Walsh, the candidate of skepticism, at-home, and security, a narrow win over Connolly. But that was then.

Where Connolly won 48.5 percent of Boston voters while Baker won only 30,.1 percent, only a careless mind dares overlook the similarity — even iddentity — of their policy messages. And may I say that their shared message is very likely to be the message of a transformed Republican party, at least here in Massachusetts ? The new generation of Massachusetts GOP operatives and policy thinkers wants “the cities” to be the heart of a new Republican agenda, and they are taking their view to the street. They did it all year long, with only a baker candidacy to cling to; now Baker is governor.

Baker will realize a lot of what the new Republican activists want; upon that prospect, many new-Republican candidacies are already being bruited, Boston-minded and Boston-based. If what you hear from these new, Baker-ist voices sounds a lot like what John Connolly spoke of, do not be surprised at all. Reform, innovation, opportunity, choice, and inclusion are in the air, even as Massachusstts’s Democratic party struggles to appeal beyond its base in labor union conservatism (especially that of teachers unions) communitioes of color, and advocacy groups defensively protectve of rights that no significant person in Massachusetts is threatening.

Baker carried 42 of Boston’s 255 precincts. It would not surprise me at all if a Republican statewide candidate even more boldly innovative than Baker carries 80 Boston precincts — maybe even a majority of them. The key will be which policy voice can win the votes of the City’s communities of color. The Republican party of 60 years ago was home to these voters : it can happen again. The Democratic party should take heed, though likely it won’t. Parties on the way down rarely do until it’s rather too late.

Right now, the Massachusetts Democratic party is collapsing in upon its base, just as the national GOP did during the period 2004 to 2012. The Coakley campaign was a campaign to the base, consciously so and eerily regressive. Not since I was a kid had I heard campaigners talk of “vote the Democratic ticket.”

What sort of message is “vote the ticket” ? Massachusetts voters want policy proposals and candidates who they judge capable of making them happen. They don’t want “tickets.”

A party that speaks of “vote the ticket” is well on the road to minority status in an independent-majority state like ours.

—- 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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