PAC with Baker ties backs Dem primary winner

Lipper-Garabedian cruises to victory in rep race

KATE LIPPER-GARABEDIAN, a lifelong Democrat from Melrose, said she was stunned when she looked inside her mailbox recently and found a piece of campaign literature she hadn’t paid for promoting her candidacy for state rep.

“It caught me off guard,” said Lipper-Garabedian.

The mailing cost $4,879 and was paid for by Massachusetts Majority, a super PAC with ties to Gov. Charlie Baker that launched last year. The PAC has raised $955,201 since May 13 and spent $272,308 on Republican and Democratic candidates. Last fall, the PAC supported 15 mayoral and city council candidates, 11 of whom won.

Lipper-Garabedian, a Melrose city councilor, is heavily favored to be the 12th winner backed by the PAC. In Tuesday’s special election primary for a seat vacated by Democrat Paul Brodeur, who was elected mayor of Melrose last fall, Lipper-Garabedian cruised to victory over two other Democrats. No Republicans were on the ballot in the primary, but one apparently succeeded in just barely gaining a spot in the final with a write-in campaign.

The $4,879 direct mail expenditure in support of Lipper-Garabedian by the Massachusetts Majority PAC equaled 44 percent of what the candidate spent on her own during the campaign.

Lipper-Garabedian is not the first Melrose candidate to win the super PAC’s backing. Massachusetts Majority also backed Republican Monica Medeiros when she ran against Brodeur for mayor.

Super PACs can raise unlimited amounts of money and make unlimited expenditures on behalf of candidates, but they cannot coordinate expenditures with campaigns they support.

Lipper-Garabedian said she had no interaction with the PAC. She works as chief legal counsel for Baker’s secretary of education and in that capacity has sat in on meetings with Baker in the past. But she said she has no strong personal relationship with him.

The biggest contributors to the Massachusetts Majority PAC are Granite Telecommunications CEO Robert Hale, who donated $100,000, and Wayfair cofounders Niraj Shah and Steven Conine, auto dealer Daniel Quirk, and John Fish, the president and CEO of Suffolk Construction, who each donated $50,000 apiece.

The Massachusetts Majority is a relatively new fundraising mechanism for Baker now that he and the state Republican Party are at odds over how to raise money and President Trump. Jim Lyons, a strong supporter of Trump, heads the state Republican Party, while Baker has distanced himself from the president.

In an interview at the State House on Tuesday, Lyons downplayed any split between the party and Baker, the top Republican elected official in the state.

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.

“From my perspective, my goal is to elect Republicans and that PAC helped elect some Republicans last fall,” Lyons said. “As long as they’re also helping Republicans, from my perspective it’s in our best interest to have more people engaged in the process.”

Lyons said he gets along well with Baker on a personal level. “Politically we’re different,” he said. “He looks at the world differently than I do. He’s trying to do a difficult job governing in Massachusetts where he’s outnumbered 125-31 [in the House]. It’s a difficult job. My job is to bring more people to the Legislature to make his job easier. He has a job that I wouldn’t want. How do you do that and walk the fine line of being a Republican? It’s tough.”

Lyons said he thinks Baker does walk that fine line. “I do. I definitely do,” Lyons said. “Charlie Baker believes in the Republican principles of Reagan – freedom, individual liberty, personal responsibility, and a market-based economy. We all agree on that.  You take that and compare it to the radical view of what the left is pushing with socialism and taking our rights away, there’s no question we’re on the same page. It’s crystal clear. We look at it differently – how we get there – but it all goes back to those principles.”