"Mass. GOP losing ground: Will contest about 58 legislative seats"
By Matt Viser, (Boston) Globe Staff, May 2, 2008
In the two election cycles since 2004, as Massachusetts Republicans lost the governor's office, every congressional race they contested, and a net of five seats in the Legislature, it was tough to imagine that things could get any worse for the chronically beleaguered state GOP.
But they have. Measured by its ability to field candidates, the Republican Party in Massachusetts is weaker than ever. While the state's top Democrats have few major legislative victories to point to, despite having a lock on Beacon Hill, Republicans are contesting only 29 percent of the 200 legislative seats in November, according to a preliminary list compiled by the secretary of state's office.
"There's nowhere to go but up," said Daniel P. Haley, who was chief of staff for Kerry Healey when she was lieutenant governor and is running against two Democrats for an open House seat in Holliston. "If nothing else, I can stand as a small bulwark against the in creasing dominance of the super majority," Haley said.
Signatures were due Tuesday in city and town clerk offices around the state, although a complete count of competitive races will not be certain until the state certifies signatures May 27. Based on who took out papers to run, Republican Party officials say they will probably contest no more than 58 of 200 legislative seats, the lowest number since at least 2000. In 2006, Republicans fielded candidates for 70 seats, which at the time was seen as a dismal failure.
Republicans currently have only 19 of 160 seats in the House and five of 40 seats in the Senate.
In addition to the bleak state legislative picture, there are Republican challengers running in just five of the 10 congressional districts, and possibly the most vulnerable - US Representative Niki Tsongas, who has held the seat for only six months - is going unchallenged. US Senator John F. Kerry also has two Republican challengers, Jim Ogonowski, a Dracut farmer and retired military officer, and Jeff Beatty, a former Delta Force officer from Harwich.
Historical tends are working against Republicans. Democrats, for example, are backed by entrenched interests such as labor and teacher unions. The state's large and small cities remain heavily Democratic, while rural and suburban communities, more likely to have Republicans and independents, are still catching up in terms of population and clout.
Republicans have found consolation in the election of Republican governors, Francis W. Sargent and William F. Weld among them, who acted as counterweights to the majority Democrats.
Republicans generally point to 1990 as their modern heyday, when Weld won the governorship, 38 Republicans were elected to the House, and 16 won a seat in the state Senate, giving Weld a Senate minority that could sustain his vetoes and allowed him to push changes and tamp down spending in a fiscal crisis.
Governor Mitt Romney vowed to be a party builder as he campaigned in 2002. And in 2004, during the midterm elections, he recruited a field to contest 121 seats in the Legislature, the biggest crop in years. Despite the high number of candidates, the party lost three legislative seats.
Then Romney launched a bid for president. "From now on, it's me, me, me," he told the Globe's editorial board after the 2004 elections.
"Whatever party building [Romney] did was to enhance his own stature," said Maurice Cunningham, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. "When that was done, he left, and I think he left the Republican Party in bad shape."
In 2006, Governor Deval Patrick's victory over Healey, Romney's number two, ended 16 years of Republican governors.
"It's difficult, now that we've lost our toehold on the corner office, to build enthusiasm and certainly to raise money," said Jane Swift, former acting governor. "That's not an issue that's going to resolve itself until we have a strong Republican gubernatorial candidate running in the next cycle."
The Republicans this year are generally avoiding incumbents by chasing open seats and are focused on conservative-leaning areas such as Cape Cod, the North Shore, and areas along the Interstate 495 corridor. Many of those towns have led the surge among unenrolled state voters, a shift away from Democratic identification that has given a lift, and at least hope, to Republicans. Still, party stalwarts say it has been difficult to recruit Republicans to run.
"It's tough to say to your family: 'I'm running for office. I fully expect I'm going to lose. Please give up your summer, your time, and send money you'll never get back,' " said Representative Bradley H. Jones Jr., the House minority leader. "That's tough to encourage people to do."
Critics say that having such one-party dominance on Beacon Hill results in more checks and fewer balances and limits creative tension in the political process. Several Republicans said that is the argument they will lean on heavily this year.
"When one party controls everything, nobody is looking out for the interests of the people," said Peter Torkildsen, the state GOP chairman. "The only way to do that is have a two-party system. People didn't understand it two years ago, but they understand it now, seeing what's happened with broken promises and ethics problems."
State party officials say they have trained their focus on building a stronger grass-roots organization. They have built a "voter vault" database, which allows campaign organizers to determine which voters tend to lean Republican, and they are holding training sessions to get activists involved. They are also trying to recruit Republicans to run in municipal elections, an effort state party officials say will not pay off for five to 10 years.
"We're focused on the farm team," said Rob Willington, who took over in September as executive director of the state party. Willington pointed to a series of Republican victories in municipal elections: Timothy Dodd won a selectmen's race in Westborough, Adam Lamontagne won a school committee race in Chicopee, and Mark P. Hawke won a mayor's race in Gardner.
To take a more visible role, the party has also bulked up its online presence (think YouTube videos and blog items) and become more vocal in criticizing Democrats, issuing press releases on everything from the Pennsylvania primary to the governor's approval ratings. Party officials held a press conference yesterday to discuss Ethics Commission complaints filed against House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi.
The party is trying to raise its profile, even as some of its more experienced hands get out of the game. At least three Republican lawmakers are not running again: Representative John Lepper of Attleboro, Representative Mary Rogeness of Longmeadow, and Representative Paul Loscocco of Holliston. Of the other 21 Republican incumbents, seven have Democratic challengers, so, for now, the party is still waiting for the next positive sign.
"The 2010 gubernatorial race is the next best hope," said Rob Gray, a Boston-based Republican consultant. "I don't see any changes or competitive races in terms of the congressional delegation in the near future. And it'll be as tough as it always is in the Legislature, if not tougher."
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
GOP to meet: The Berkshire County Republican Association tells County Fare it will hold its annual potluck picnic at Bucksteep Manor, Washington, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 16, 2009.
The special guest is Massachusetts Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Nassour. She will be speaking on a variety of topics, including the 2010 elections.
All are invited to this free, family-friendly event. Bring a side dish to share and whatever you would like to grill. A grill with a volunteer cook will be provided.
Information: Kathy Mickle, 413-822-0440 or Dave Bubriski, 413-443-7598.
Source: The Berkshire Eagle, County Fare - a weekly column, August 12, 2009.
"Massachusetts Republican Party Hits the Road"
By Ray Hershel - wggb.com (ABC40) - August 13, 2009
WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (abc40)-- The race for governor in Massachusetts may be more than a year away but already the political battle lines are being drawn.
The Republican party is looking to take back the governor's seat.
On Thursday, Jennifer Nassour, the chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party met with party members in West Springfield. She is traveling across the state trying to re-energize the party and strengthen its grassroots. Nassour is trying to get more Republicans to run for office and says that is happening, "Thanks to Governor Deval Patrick we have a lot of Republicans interested in running right now, people are really unhappy with the administration."
And that sentiment was echoed by other Republicans like Westfield State Representative Don Humason, "It's hard when your party affiliation is smaller but I think this year and next year we're going to have an opportunity to build the party larger."
Case in point is the race at the top of the ticket. There will be a Republican primary for governor next year. Christy Mihos and Charles Baker have announced their intentions to run for governor as Republicans.
Meanwhile State Treasurer Tim Cahill is considering a run for Governor as an Independent candidate.
Incumbent Democratic Governor Deval Patrick says he's running for re-election and welcomes the competition, "It should be a competitive race, that's better for everybody, it means I sharpen my game, it means the public gets some real choice."
So far no democrats have come forward to challenge Governor Patrick.
CONTENDERS: Former Republican Party Chairman Jim Rappaport and Rep. Karyn Polito are among the running mate possiblities in the upcoming governor’s race.
"Who will be GOP governor hopefuls’ perfect mates?"
By Holly Robichaud, Sunday, August 16, 2009, www.bostonherald.com - Local Politics
Will the Bill Weld tradition of choosing a lieutenant governor continue for the GOP?
Odds are that both Charlie Baker and Christy Mihos will select running mates. But who?
Determining factors for the decision-making process will include: resume, geography, gender, political acumen, stance on the issues, and, of course, baggage.
The worst kept secret in GOP circles is that state Sen. Scott Brown wants the nod. He might as well wear a “pick me” button.
Brown is a favorite among conservatives, who would like more balance of social issues on the ticket, and activists, who appreciate his work ethic on behalf of the party. But he faces hurdles. The GOP cannot afford to lose another member of the Senate, and Brown has some foot-in-mouth baggage. In an election cycle surely to be dominated by feelings of resentment toward elected officials, now is not the time to anoint a Beacon Hill legislator.
Brown is not the only contender with this dilemma. Rep. Karyn Polito (R-Shrewsbury) and former Rep. Paul Loscocco, who have expressed interest, will have to prove their resumes include more than just legislative experience.
Another person who is not auditioning but offers issue balance is former Republican Party Chairman Jim Rappaport. With his background in philanthropy and business and his Jewish roots, Baker might want to entice Rappaport back into politics.
Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins should be on the Baker short list. His heritage, personality and service probably would make him the leading choice if he wasn’t from the same geographic area.
Other law-and-order names include district attorneys Tim Cruz and Elizabeth Scheibel and Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson. All of them have tough-on-criminal records to contrast with CORI-weakening Gov. Deval Patrick.
One wild-card candidate would be Gail Goodman, founder of Constant Contact. Despite being unenrolled and an Obama donor, Goodman might be a good addition to the ticket with her vast business success - especially when Baker is running on a jobs platform.
Some unconventional possibilities: former Worcester City Councilor Juan Gomez, National Federation of Independent Business director Bill Vernon and South Shore Chamber President Peter Forman.
While Baker leads in the polls, he would be well advised to keep the most important principle in mind when selecting a running mate: Do no harm. He does not want to end up like Tom Reilly.
- Jonathan Melle
- Amherst, NH, United States
- I am a citizen defending the people against corrupt Pols who only serve their Corporate Elite masters, not the people! / My 2 political enemies are Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., nicknamed "Luciforo" and former Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. / I have also pasted many of my political essays on "The Berkshire Blog": berkshireeagle.blogspot.com / I AM THE ANTI-FRANK GUINTA! / Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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