^ State Representative Keiko Orrall at the State House

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The battle to remake Massachusetts’s Republican organization has become a fire fight. On facebook you see it — you almost feel it — as insults are thrown and people quickly block each other. All in pursuit of who will be the party’s next National Committee-woman.

I presume that you, dear reader, care who Massachusetts’s GOP National Committee-woman is. I can easily understand if you don’t even know what a national committee-woman does. As I’ve written before : you should care. The party’s national committee-woman (and her counterpart, the national committee-man) take a lead role in crafting the party’s issues platform and in recruiting candidates. Thus the job has significant public policy consequences for all of us.

Which is why Governor Baker has made this fight and why he will see that it is won by the candidate whom he wants.  That candidate is State Representative Keiko Orrall, of the 12th Bristol District, challenging the current office holder, Chanel Prunier of Shrewsbury, a political operative for an anti-LGBT advocacy group.

Yesterday one of Prunier’s key supporters made the contest one of “loyalty.” Orrall, he said, had been supported by Prunier when she, Orrall, first sought election to the legislature. “So much for loyalty,” he argued.

OK, then : if this contest is to be about loyalty, let us talk about the loyalties of his own candidate. I ask the following questions  :

1.Is Prunier’s first loyalty to the Massachusetts Republican party or to the special interest group that pays her a consulting fee ? Certainly the party’s national committee-woman should owe first loyalty to the party, true ?

2.Was Prunier showing first loyalty to the Republican Party when she took the lead in crafting a party platform with social issue provisions in line with those of the advocacy group that pays her ? Provisions that almost derailed Charlie Baker’s candidacy because the overwhelming majority of voters reject that platform ?

3.Has Prunier given first loyalty to the Republican party when she scans the mailing list of her advocacy group to find and field primary opponents to the party’s best candidates, thereby forcing them to spend time and money to prevail in a low-vote primary rather than  campaign to all the voters ?

4.Was it loyalty to the Republican party, that Prunier and her allies on the state committee — many of them from the advocacy group that pays her — never lifted a finger to help a certain State Senate candidate opposed by them, who ended up losing a very winnable Senate seat by 398 votes ?

5.Was it loyalty to the Republican party that Prunier refused to endorse Baker for election or that another group she takes a leadership role in actively opposed his candidacy all the way to Election Day and still opposes him ?

6.And how was it “loyalty to the Republican party” that, during a special election for State Representative in the very District that Prunier lives in — won narrowly by Hannah Kane, the GOP candidate –she gave Kane not the slightest speck of assistance ?

You be the judge.

The Prunier supporter who asked that “loyalty” decide this choice will probably respond, “yes, but Mike : you support all those scandalous social issue views that Prunier does not; so of course you oppose her.”

To which I say : “yes indeed, I do support all those scandalous social issue positions that Prunier is paid to oppose. But guess what ? Keiko Orrall does not support them either, yet I support her. You know why ?

“I support Keiko Orrall because she will be loyal to the party as a whole, will be loyal to our Governor, who is after all, our leader and holds the most powerful office in our state; because the goal of our party is not to advance the interests of this or that paid advocacy group but the interests of all the state’s voters.

It is indeed a question of loyalty.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


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