What’s behind the split within the Mass. GOP

There is a struggle going on for the soul of the Massachusetts Republican Party between Trump loyalists who control the party apparatus and a more moderate brand of Republicanism espoused by Gov. Charlie Baker.

The state party is headed by Jim Lyons, a social and economic conservative who said in a recent email to state Republicans that President Trump’s economy is working for Massachusetts residents. “We learned on Election Day that even here in ‘blue’ Massachusetts, voters in our targeted areas are picking common sense over creeping socialism,” he said.

But the party is also headed by its top office-holder, Baker, who is no fan of Trump and practices a brand of politics that blends social liberalism, fiscal restraint, and a willingness to work cooperatively with the Democrats who dominate Beacon Hill. A relatively new super PAC affiliated with Baker spent money on behalf of Republicans and Democrats in the November municipal elections.

While Lyons and Baker refrain from attacking each other publicly, it’s clear they represent competing factions within the party. On the CommonWealth Codcast, two Republicans from those factions engaged in a sometimes testy debate about the struggle over the party’s direction.