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.
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.”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?