The Mass. GOP Versus Itself

By Adam Reilly

Nov. 5, 2010

Charlie Baker supporters cheered on their candidate in September. Like all of the GOP's candidates for statewide office, Baker lost his campaign -- setting off a debate in the GOP over what went wrong. (Stephanie Vieira for WGBH).

The phrase "circular firing squad" is usually used to describe Democrats, not Republicans. But there's been plenty of internecine sniping in the Mass. GOP since last Tuesday — when the state's Republicans failed to win the governorship, any statewide offices or any congressional seats.

The day after the election, for example, Boston Herald columnist and Tea Party activist Holly Robichaud called for a leadership shakeup in the state GOP on WGBH's Greater Boston. At the Red Mass. Group blog, a poster identified only as "The Angelic One" argued that the party lacks ideological cohesion. Then there's the right-wing group Mass Resistance, which seems to think the Mass. GOP's failures Tuesday stem from being soft on gays and abortion. Meanwhile, Mass. GOP chairman Jennifer Nassour counters that the party's pickup of 17 State House seats shows Republicans are on the right track.

Since I'm not privy to the inner workings of the Mass. GOP, I'm hesitant to take a side in this argument. But the disputants should think back to then-Gov. Mitt Romney's push to add Republicans to the MA Legislature back in 2004. After plenty of pageantry and optimism early on, Romney backed away as election day approached, saying he'd be happy to add just one Republican legislator. As it turned out, the GOP actually lost three seats that year.

This doesn't mean the Republicans shouldn't care that Charlie Baker lost to Gov. Patrick, or that strong statewide bids by Mary Connaughton and Karen Polito failed, or that the buzz-generating bids of Jeff Perry and Sean Bielat fell short. When you've got a bunch of big races that feel competitive, and you don't win any of them, disappointment is a natural reaction. Still, recent history suggests that the State House gains Nassour is trumpeting are actually pretty impressive. Whether they're a sign of something bigger — or just the bright spot in an otherwise depressing year — is something we won't know until 2012.

About the Author
Adam Reilly Adam Reilly
Adam Reilly is a political reporter and associate producer for WGBH's Greater Boston.


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