Baker vs Moulton: Preview of a heavyweight fight?
It has all the markings of a heavyweight match-up: The stare-downs, the accusations, the well-defined contrast in style, and the loyal camps for each side. The spat between Gov. Charlie Baker and US Rep. Seth Moulton is reverberating beyond their differences over Syrian refugee policy and could lay the groundwork for a gubernatorial battle royale in 2018.
When Baker announced his hesitancy to accept Syrian refugees without assurances about the vetting process from the federal government, Moulton went on the attack, calling out Baker by name even though Baker’s stance was far more nuanced than most other governors and certainly not a lonely voice in the wilderness.
“It’s a shame that Governor Baker doesn’t know the difference between refugees and those from whom they need refuge,” Moulton wrote on Twitter.
That brought a rebuke from Baker, who said Moulton went “straight to the partisan talking points” in his criticism. Moulton shot back that, for him, it wasn’t about politics but a stance gleaned from his military service in Iraq.
A Lowell Sun editorial criticizes Moulton for trying to score political points at Baker’s expense on Syrian refugees. The Boston Globe‘s Yvonne Abraham feels quite the opposite, saying Baker’s charge that Moulton resorted to “partisan talking points” was “beneath him.” She also says it was “ludicrous.”
Baker may be right about it being political but it’s a jacket he’ll have to wear himself. Of the 26 governors who share Baker’s views, 25 are Republicans. All of the presidential candidates calling for an end to bringing in Syrian refugees are on the Republican primary ballots. The Republican-dominated House prepares to vote on legislation that would tighten oversight of the federal program for Syrian and Iraqi refugees. So, yes, it’s very much partisan, however you want to parse it.
Which brings us to 2018. Baker is popular among all Massachusetts voters. His missteps are few since taking office and this one does not qualify for one, either. His view is shared, to a small extent, by House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was with him before he wasn’t. The fact that Baker bristled at being upbraided by Moulton shows he’s cognizant of the challenge.
Moulton is a bona fide war hero who embraces traditional Massachusetts Democratic values. There’s no one else on the statewide stage right now that pundits see as a legitimate contender to take on a popular Republican governor and Moulton is as bright a rising star as Democrats could want.
The fact that the congressman, who no one will ever say lacks ambition, engaged in the battle shows he is ready for a fight, however he couches his values. He took on a sitting congressman in his own party, albeit a weakened one, and dispatched him even when a moderate Republican couldn’t.
Given Moulton’s colleagues in Washington are far more strident than Baker when it comes to the Obama administration’s decision to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees, there would have been no shortage of easy, generic GOP targets for Moulton’s slings and arrows. The fact he chose to get into the ring with Baker indicates the battle has been engaged.
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A Boston Herald editorial praises new reforms announced this week for the Department of Children and Families.
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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh proposes 21 as the legal age to buy cigarettes in the city. (WBUR)
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Wareham officials approved a plan for a medical marijuana dispensary in the town. (Standard-Times)
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