Baker, a Republican, continues push for Democrats

Endorses Neal; PAC pumps more money into Dem primaries

REPUBLICAN GOV. Charlie Baker continued his push for Democrats on Thursday, personally sending out a tweet endorsing US Rep. Richard Neal in his primary fight with Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse and, via a super PAC with which the governor has close ties, pouring more money into Democratic primary races for the House, Senate, and Governor’s Council.

Baker’s endorsement of Neal fits the governor’s emerging political mindset that embraces politically middle-of-the-road Democrats and Republicans with whom he thinks he can work. He is not leaving his party, describing himself this week as a member of the “practical and pragmatic Republican Party.”

In his tweet backing Neal, Baker said: “Congressman Neal has been a powerful voice for all in the 1st District and the Commonwealth is a better place because of his hard work. I’m looking forward to working with him now more than ever as we fight and come back from this pandemic. Good luck next week, @NealForCongress.”

Morse, who is politically to the left of Neal, issued a statement saying he wasn’t surprised by Baker’s tweet. “Those who are satisfied with the status quo are supporting Richie Neal,” he said.

Like Morse, many of the candidates facing off against rivals backed by the super PAC with close ties to Baker have said the governor is trying to block them from attaining office because they are too progressive for his taste.

The Massachusetts Majority PAC, which has close ties to Baker and is supported financially by well-connected business leaders, is also backing select Democrats in primary races for State House seats. The PAC reported spending another $51,364 on direct mail advertising Thursday, bringing its total expenditures on state primary races to $154,687 since August 11. Of the total, 90 percent has gone to Democrats and 10 percent to Republicans.

The latest round of funding went to many of the same Democrats the PAC has already supported this month, including Sens. Nick Collins of Boston and Walter Timilty of Milton and Reps. William C. Galvin of Canton, Daniel Joseph Ryan of Boston, David Rogers of Cambridge, Frank Moran of Lawrence, Jerald Parisella of Beverly, Joseph McGonagle of Everett, John Lawn of Watertown, John Rogers of Norwood, Kevin Honan of Boston, and Paul Donato of Medford.

In total, the Baker-connected PAC has spent $9,467 on behalf of Collins, $7,937 on behalf of Timilty, and lesser amounts on the incumbent state reps.

The PAC is also paying for direct mail advertising on behalf of three Democrats running for open House seats, including Rob Consalvo of Boston, Jessica Giannino of Revere, and Ted Phillips of Sharon. It is also supporting John Lally of Brockton, who is challenging an incumbent, Rep. Michelle DuBois of Brockton.

The PAC’s largest financial support has gone to Terrence Kennedy, a Lynnfield Democrat facing a primary challenge in his run for reelection to the Governor’s Council, and Padraic Rafferty, a Worcester Democrat running for an open seat on the council. The Governor’s Council approves gubernatorial appointments for judges, clerk-magistrates, and other positions. The PAC with ties to Baker has spent $37,870 on advertising in support of Kennedy and $32,968 in support of Rafferty.

Those amounts dwarf what their opponents are spending in the races. Kennedy’s opponent, Helina Fontes of Lynn, spent $3,223 through the end of July and Rafferty’s opponent, Paul DePalo of Worcester, spent $6,415.

When the Massachusetts Majority PAC first started supporting Rafferty, DePalo said he was worried that his opponent and Baker were trying to buy the election. DePalo ran for the Governor’s Council seat two years ago and came close to defeating the Republican incumbent, Jennie Caissie.

Baker nominated Caissie, a Republican and political supporter, for the clerk magistrate job at the Dudley District Court in 2019. The appointment was approved by the Governor’s Council on a 5-2 vote and the Governor’s Council job has been vacant since.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Rafferty, a newcomer to politics, donated $500 to Caissie in 2016. Members of the law firm where he works, including Rafferty’s uncle, have also backed Caissie and given more than $9,000 to Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.

DePalo said the super PAC tied to Baker appears to be backing candidates who are opposed by reform-minded challengers. “There’s never been an appointment rejected [by the Governor’s Council] under this administration and it would seem that favored candidates would preserve that rubber stamp,” he said.