A Lively campaign

Scott Lively has an edge with conservative voters

There’s two sides to every coin, goes the old saw, but it’s hard to make heads or tails out of the results of the GOP convention in Worcester and what it means for Gov. Charlie Baker.

Republicans gave Baker a healthy 70 percent of the vote for the nomination nod but at the same time, the vocal hard-right band of delegates not only delivered a chance for Scott Lively to be on the ballot, they gave him nearly enough for two Scott Livelys to make it, as one observer noted.

Lively, for those who don’t know, is an anti-gay, anti-abortion rights pastor from Springfield who’s making his second run for the corner office. He’s best known for calling for the death penalty for gays in Uganda, which makes him about as electable in Massachusetts as, say Donald Trump.

But Lively is an unabashed fan of the president and that made him the recipient of all the love from the conservative base at the weekend convention to send a message to Baker that his version of Republicanism doesn’t pass the litmus test.

Baker has said he’s too tied up with governing to focus on campaigning right now and likely won’t put the effort in until August. That has the benefit for Baker of saving money while at the same time denying Lively’s effort any oxygen. And with the primary set for the day after Labor Day, there won’t be much time for head-to-head battles. The prediction is Baker will agree to a single debate, if at all, but only if it’s broadcast on a Saturday morning.

But the Boston Herald’s Joe Battenfeld says a primary challenge from Lively could be a “blessing in disguise” for Baker, a foil to react strongly against and help him make more inroads among the moderate voters he wants to woo.

“Baker has to walk a fine line in the coming months, denouncing Lively’s controversial views but not wanting to alienate too many voters in Baker’s own Republican base,” writes Battenfeld. “But if he pulls it off, Baker could actually look like a voice of reason and a principled moderate — frustrating Democrats’ attempts to link him to national Republicans and President Trump.”

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

Therein lies the danger, though. As long as Lively has the “R” next to his name, he’ll represent the party to a broad swath of voters in the middle and Baker will lose some of his “most popular governor” aura. And should state Rep. Geoff Diehl, one of Trump’s biggest fans in the Legislature, succeed in getting the party’s nomination to challenge Sen. Elizabeth Warren, that will keep the specter of the conservative faction alive through the general election campaign and raise questions about whether Baker is or isn’t a Republican.

Heads? Or tails?