The Ugly Partial History of the MassGOP


by John DiMascio

Chairman of the Watertown Republican Town Committee

It’s time Republicans and Republican leaning voters send a clear message to the MassGOP. For decades we’ve tolerated mediocre Republican governors, telling ourselves, well, that’s the best we can do in Massachusetts. Sure, we’re not likely to elect someone like Scott Walker or Mike Pence to the corner office on Beacon Hill anytime soon. But we can certainly do better than the likes of Bill Weld and his boy wonder, Charlie Baker, who not only are as far left on a plethora of issues as Bernie Sanders, but they have become notorious for undermining fellow Republicans, from mayoral candidates right up to presidential candidates.

Their policies are bad enough. And if it were just a matter of policy, one could conceivably justify holding one’s nose, voting for the proverbial lessor of two evils, even if only out of Party loyalty.

But these guys have gone out of their way to stifle any attempt to build a Party infrastructure such as was built in the 1980s by the late Ray Shamie.

For those that don’t know the history and inside baseball of the Party, I’m going to going to take you on a trip down memory lane.

During the dark, dark days of the Dukakis administration, Ray Shamie quietly set forth on a mission to rebuild the MassGOP from the bottom up. He focused on town and ward committees and finding good candidates to run for lower office. He was a solid conservative himself, but he stayed away from ideological dogma. Instead he encouraged candidates to run their own races, based on their own local issues.

Shamie’s approach paid off. In 1990 we had a wave election in Massachusetts. We elected Bill Weld governor and Joe Malone treasurer. But most importantly, we elected 16 state senators (enough to uphold a veto). Moreover, if between 5 and 6 thousand votes in total across five districts had gone the other way, the Republicans would have elected 21 state senators, giving us the majority. We also increased the House Republican Caucus from 32 to 38.

The following election in 1992 was a presidential year. Bill Clinton won the state in a landslide. But because the machine Shamie had built was still working well, Massachusetts elected two Republican congressmen, Peter Blute and Peter Torkildsen.

This electoral success was not primarily based on the ideology espoused by the candidates. We enjoyed these victories because the MassGOP was a viable Party that had an organized infrastructure at the local level. We had boots on the ground to mount successful campaigns.

Enter Bill Weld. Weld learned quickly that he could gain more personally if he betrayed his own Party and helped stifle challenges to Democrats in the Legislature. Likewise, the House speaker and Senate president discovered newfound power they never had with a Democrat in the corner office. And so the unholy bargain was struck.

While Weld soon started to demolish all that Ray Shamie had built and immediately started directing all Party resources to himself, the Democrats started rolling out a list of pitiful politicos to run for governor. Who can forget the immortal Mark Roosevelt?

Cellucci continued the same corner office only policy. His reward in 1998 was one feckless Scott Harshbarger as an opponent, who, like Roosevelt, got no support from the Massachusetts Democrat machine or leadership. And then there is the 2002 race. Mitt Romney’s opponent was another total lightweight that was shafted by her own leadership, namely Shannon O’Brien.

By the time Mittens took over, the destruction of the MassGOP was complete. The Legislature was 85% Democrat. With those numbers, the Democrats could override a veto every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Romney to his credit understood things had to change and actually made a token effort to recruit legislative candidates. The problem is that he didn’t target the right districts. He was distracted, already planning to bail and run for president.

So let’s fast forward to 2010. Charlie Baker ran a lousy campaign in 2010. Having been coached by his uber-leftist, self-serving, often drunk to the point of incoherence, Bill Weld, Baker ran to the hard left. He alienated the base, who rejected him. Hence, he lost the election.

He spent the next four years doing a makeover. He campaigned for down-ticket Republicans of across the ideological spectrum and he reached out to the base, promising that he would not interfere with the MassGOP platform. And he garnered the support of some us who hoped he’d continue to work all Republicans up and down the ticket.

But even then he showed signs of returning to the corner office only. In February of 2014, he attended the Watertown RTC Delegate Caucus, which I chaired. As he explained his campaign strategy, he made it a point to state we needed a low turnout and he was specific. He said (and I’ll paraphrase): “We can’t afford a competitive race for U.S. Senate. That will cause the Democrats to spend federal money in Massachusetts to defend Ed Markey, thus driving up their turnout.” Hmm … well, that explains a lot, doesn’t it?

Follow this – Scott Brown lost a relatively close race to Elizabeth Warren. Say what you will about Brown, he was popular in the state. He could have easily defeated Ed Markey in 2014. He would have crushed him in the 2013 special election. But he chose not to run. Why? Do you really think he thought he had a better shot in New Hampshire? Read between the lines, folks. Brown was strong-armed by the corrupt cabal running the MassGOP to get out of Dodge.

So why does the MassGOP leadership put up with this? Aren’t they interested in building a viable Party in Massachusetts? The answer is a flat out NO. See, the corner office only policy serves their interest. The governor hands out the political patronage. Heck, nearly half the State Committee members are bought and paid for hacks, many with patronage jobs. One state committeeman, whose son was given a life-time appointment as judge, actually defended this corruption on a Facebook thread. Here is State Committeeman Thomas Stanton’s direct quote:

“If we abandon our efforts to win the governorship, we might all just leave the GOP and become Democrats. If you have a better answer for all the loyal Republicans who seek a career in state government, you should say it. I am sure no one wants to give up the corner office just to die for a cause.”

But it doesn’t end there, folks. It is blatantly obvious the MassGOP overlords, the MassGOP chair, the governor, and the inept brain trust on Merrimac Street have ZERO interest in increasing the number of Republican legislators on Beacon Hill. Even the House Minority Leader Brad Jones is on this scam. He doesn’t want a larger Republican Caucus for fear of losing his position as minority leader. He actually hired a staff member that serves on the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) Political Committee. Her name is Andrea Crupi and the NARAL Political Committee works to defeat mostly Republicans. Jones went to so far as to actively support Ms. Crupi to fill a vacancy on the MassGOP State Committee. So he wanted someone dedicated to defeating Republicans to have access to all the MassGOP donor data, voter data, and internal strategies!

Oh, the MassGOP and Baker give lip service to electing more Republicans to Beacon Hill. But here are the facts. In 2012, a year when Mitt Romney and Scott Brown lost statewide, there were over a dozen districts in the state that voted for them. And you guessed it. Those districts are represented by Democrats that haven’t been challenged for years if not decades. Those same districts voted for Trump in 2016. Yet Kirsten Hughes, who makes nearly a six-figure salary as MassGOP chair, doesn’t have political savvy to actively recruit candidates to run in those districts. You would think every one of those geniuses working on Merrimac Street would have a list of those districts on their desk. They should be making calls to the local committee chairs on a weekly basis and their respective State Committee members, urging them to find candidates in these districts. Moreover, they should be committing resources to those districts, so the potential candidates can have some confidence of support instead of a knife in the back.

But Chairman Hughes only does what’s she’s told to do by Baker … same as every chair has done the bidding of the governor, but only since Bill Weld. Never was it more obvious that she’s just a lackey than during the 2016 presidential election. On a weekly basis or more, she sent out emails with her lip service about voting for down ticket candidates and for Charlie Baker’s positions on two ballot questions. Never once did she mention that there was a presidential election, let alone that we should support the Republican nominee, Donald Trump. Of course, we know why. Baker publicly stated he wasn’t supporting Trump. Do we need more evidence that Baker is a corrupt traitor, that he treats MassGOP resources as his play thing?

And this brings me back to where I started this column. It’s time we send a loud message to Baker and the MassGOP on November 6th. Republicans, if you want to have a viable Party in the future, we need new leadership. We get out and vote for every Republican on the ticket except for Charlie Baker and Karen Polito. If Baker is defeated, all those bought and paid for hacks on the State Committee will lose their political patronage jobs. Many will resign as they’re only in it for the patronage. Others will stop going to meetings. Moreover, Baker won’t be in a position to raise and spend the millions in dark money to elect more hacks to the State Committee like he did in 2016.

Wait a minute, you might say! That means we might have another Democrat like Deval Patrick as governor. Won’t that be horrible? Yes, it will be. But when you think about it, Baker is virtually the same on policies and on those rare occasions when he finds it politically expedient to oppose the Democrats, they simply override his veto. So having a feckless “Republican” governor that’s really a liberal Democrat does the commonwealth no good.

Yes, Jay Gonzalez as our next governor will be painful. But the situation calls for strong medicine. Cancer patients need chemotherapy and radiation. The side effects of which are painful. Charlie Baker is indeed nothing less than an intolerable malignancy afflicting the MassGOP. His cronies that make up over half the State Committee, the National Committeeman Ron Kaufman, the National Committeewoman Keiko Orrall, the Chair Kirsten Hughes, are metastatic tumors that infest the body. So yes, it will be painful in the short run. But we must rebuild, just as Ray Shamie did. Baker and his corrupt cabal are standing in the way.

Blank Baker 2018.  ♦


2 Replies to “The Ugly Partial History of the MassGOP

  1. A well written column. However, it’s one week before the election and the last time I saw a Diehl tv ad was in early September before the primary. Today the Boston Herald endorsed Maura Healey for state AG. I still haven’t seen any McMahon ads. Healey is the most biased and ineffective AG in Bay State history. Yet she gets token opposition by MassGOP in this election. I wouldn’t be boasting of electing Joe Malone in the early 1990’s. His office had a huge corruption scandal back then. I’ll vote for Diehl and McMahon. However, I realize that MassGOP isn’t serious about it’s candidates. Once again uncaring out of touch Democrats will win. They should thank MassGOP and the huge amount of “concerned” citizens who don’t vote.

  2. I agree with much of John’s “history lesson”. However, we part ways regarding his conclusions. We need new leadership at the top of the MA GOP. Someone who will put party first, even is it comes at the expense of upsetting Baler. No more absentee leader ship. No more lap dogs. No more 20-somethings who know nothing but are running the party. We need leadership that will stand and work for the party, following Ray Shamie’s lead of building the party infrastructure from the local level up and forgoing the ideological ideological dogma. Focus on winning. There are districts and seats we should be winning but we are not, for various reasons. Unfortunately, the party is split and fighting over the ideological dogma and that is why we lose. Is State Committee smart enough and strong enough to elect new leadership that will replicate Shamey’s winning example? I don’t think so. The MA GOP needs a leader strong enough to stand up to Baker, and the ideologues and to focus their efforts on simply winning. We’ll see when the party has its next elections

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