Trump Spirit, Fighting Theme Runs Through GOP Convention
By Michael P. Norton
State House News Service
SPRINGFIELD, MASS., MAY 21, 2022…..Drifting from their recent moderate roots, Massachusetts Republicans on Saturday opened a new chapter in their party’s history, hosting a decidedly pro-Trump nominating convention that keyed off of anger about government mandates, pledges to oppose and fight the “radical left,” and calls for a state government flush with cash to deliver relief from high gas prices and soaring inflation.
“This is a new Republican Party, a party that is going to stand and fight,” party chair Jim Lyons said in remarks at the MassMutual Center, after a video presentation featuring scenes of destructive urban protests. “This is a time to finally take over and put the radical agenda to sleep once and for all.”
Lyons won applause from party delegates when he speculated about Massachusetts becoming “pro-life again” – delegates later cheered at the prospects of overturning Roe v. Wade – and when he declared, “President Donald J. Trump is the greatest president in my lifetime.”
Lyons lost his old seat in the Massachusetts House to a Democrat and Republicans have been slowly bleeding more seats recently under his watch. They hold 31 seats in the 200-seat Legislature and their most popular official, Gov. Charlie Baker, is at odds with his party and not seeking reelection. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito also opted against running for governor, and the names of Baker and Polito didn’t come up in convention remarks.
A Boston Globe-Suffolk University poll this month found only just over 50 percent of those polled believe Massachusetts is heading in the right direction, opening an opportunity for candidates to reach frustrated voters, but nearly 72 percent of respondents in the same poll were also optimistic about their own futures.
Some in the party see the new direction as the wrong one.
“Feels weird not to be at the MassGOP convention today,” Republican Ed Lyons tweeted Saturday. “Republicans I know are not going. What’s the point? Today will be a celebration of unelectable national GOP politics, and these angry white losers will all get creamed in November, and love it.”
But Shaunna O’Connell said there is hope. She said she was an unknown “mom with a cause” when she ran for state rep as a Republican and beat former Rep. Jim Fagan, and she later prevailed against strong opposition from Democrats to win her current office, mayor of Taunton.
“It won’t be easy,” she said. “It never is for a Republican in Massachusetts, but it is possible.”
Billerica Republican Rep. Marc Lombardo said that during his 12 years on Beacon Hill “I found myself surrounded by those who didn’t want to ruffle any feathers.” He compromised to get things done for his community, he said, but he called government-ordered pandemic shutdowns and lockdowns a “reawakening.”
“We were even told that it was dangerous to be outside on a golf course so therefore golf courses were closed down,” Lombardo said.
Lombardo continued, “We need more Republicans on Beacon Hill to stand beside me and fight. We are going to look back at this time in history as a time when we had to stand up and fight for our basic rights.”
The party’s Secretary of State nominee, Rayla Campbell, told delegates they “should be pissed.” Referring to Democrats, who she called “rotten devils,” she urged delegates to “make them uncomfortable.”
Halifax School Committee member Summer Schmaling said many parents oppose in-school efforts to “turn out children into little social justice activists” and chafe at questions in student surveys about “social emotional learning” and “microaggressions.”
“Doesn’t the government know that you will not mess with our babies,” she said, alleging that education has strayed too far towards a “social agenda” and too far away from academics. “We will fight to the death.”
Later in the convention, 40 Days For Life founder David Bereit railed against abortion.
“Enough is enough,” he said. “It’s time to bring Massachusetts back to life.”
Defenders of abortion rights and reproductive health services have strenuously vowed to protect access to abortion even if Roe v. Wade is struck down.
“If I offend anybody today, I don’t care,” said former Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan, who said Trump did more than his predecessors to secure the southern border, and alleged that border areas are currently open “on purpose.”
Homan capped his speech by leading the crowd in a “Trump” cheer and then whipping out his cellphone to quickly record it.