Another test for the state’s struggling GOP
Disarray at the top is having big repercussions
IT’S HARD TO TELL what the Massachusetts Republican Party stands for these days.
Gov. Charlie Baker, the state’s leading Republican, disavowed President Trump on Monday, calling him out for his lack of compassion and leadership. “That’s not what we need in Boston, it’s not what we need right now in Massachusetts, and it’s definitely not what we need across this great country of ours either,” he said.
Yet the party apparatus in Massachusetts is controlled by Republicans who are strong backers of Trump. Jim Lyons, the party chair, is pleading with donors to open their checkbooks to “show President Trump that Massachusetts conservatives have his back and want to help him Keep America Great!”
The mixed messages at the top of the relatively small party appear to be having severe repercussions in local campaigns. The party lost two seats in the Senate last month in special elections, and the GOP now holds just four seats in the 40-member body.
Democrats would appear to have an edge in both races, in part because the Republican candidates are not getting much help from their party. Lyons admitted last week that the party is in “dire straits” and “in danger of losing to the Beacon Hill radicals.”
Baker, meanwhile, appears to be pursuing a strategy of supporting candidates who he feels are more like him – mostly Republicans but some Democrats – using a super PAC with close ties to him called Massachusetts Majority.
Here’s how the situation is playing out financially in the two special elections being held today.
Clark, a realtor from Lunenburg, has raised a total of $13,832 this year, while Sena, a former district director for Sen. Jamie Eldridge of Acton, has raised more than $33,000.
The Massachusetts Majority super PAC is all in with Clark. The PAC spent $7,332 supporting her primary campaign and another $11,472 backing her run against Sena. Sena, meanwhile, has also received PAC backing. The Mass Values PAC, which is funded by the Service Employees International Union, has spent $20,830 on his behalf.Tooner, a paralegal who has the endorsement of O’Connell, has raised slightly more money than Doherty in their race, but she has received no help from the Baker-affiliated PAC. By contrast, the Mass Values PAC has spent $31,942 on behalf of Doherty, a retired educator and long-time Taunton School Committee member.
The results of the two House races should be another indication of which direction the Republican Party is headed in in Massachusetts.