Baker and Lyons — match made in need
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER is taking heat for traveling to Andover Monday night to appear at a fundraiser for Rep. Jim Lyons, a Republican whose conservative politics and take-no-prisoners style on the House floor have made him something of a pariah on Beacon Hill.
Baker and Lyons don’t agree on a lot. Both are fiscal conservatives, but Lyons is a lot more vocal and far more specific than Baker. The governor signed the grand bargain ($15 minimum wage and paid family and medical leave), while Lyons voted against it. Lyons wanted to remove a judge from the bench who gave a soft sentence to an immigrant subject to deportation, while Baker says the problem with sentences is the law, not judges. And Baker signed a bill into law providing more protections for the transgender community, while Lyons voted against it.
Conservative Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr calls Baker Tall Deval, but he wanted to give a profile-in-courage award to Lyons for opposing efforts to add a third gender to the Massachusetts drivers license.
A Boston Herald story, quoting GOP consultant Brad Marston, suggested Baker backed Lyons to remind Republican primary voters that he is, indeed, a Republican. Baker is facing hard-right pastor Scott Lively of Springfield in the September 4 primary.
“You have to watch the difference between what Gov. Baker says and what he does. And by being here, to actively help Jim Lyons get reelected to the State House, Gov. Baker is actively working against … basic rights for transgender people,” Gonzalez said. “He is actively working against banning the horrific practice of gay conversion therapy.”
Terry McCormack, a Baker campaign spokesman, said the governor and Lyons do share a commitment to combating the opioid epidemic. (That’s about as apple pie as you can get.) He added that Baker “does not expect that everyone he works with on Beacon Hill will share his position on every issue and believes in working past political differences to deliver the best results for the people of Massachusetts.”
The likely reason Baker attended the Lyons fundraiser is practical politics. Lyons is one of just 34 Republicans in the 160-member House. He is also a proven vote-getter. He won his seat in 2010 by ousting the incumbent, L’Italien, who went on to be elected state senator and is now running for Congress. He may have a conservative fan base, but he is also the rare politician on Beacon Hill who is not afraid to buck the go-along-to-get-along culture..When the House earlier this year was debating whether to hike rental car fees by $2 to fund training for police officers, Lyons was one of only four reps (all Republicans) to question the new fee. He called the fee an “absolute joke” at a time when the state budget is topping $40 billion.
“If we cannot make police training one of our priorities without raising a fee, where are we spending this $40 billion?” he asked.