The Codcast: Is Charlie Baker really a Republican?

Gov. Charlie Baker has an R next to his name, but many Republicans don’t think it belongs there.

Ed Lyons, a Republican activist who is a big fan of Baker, said the governor’s acceptance of the grand bargain in the recently completed legislative session disturbed many in the GOP.  The grand bargain embraced legislation raising the hourly minimum wage to $15 and mandating paid medical and family leave as a way to take ballot questions off the table that would have accomplished both actions more quickly and would also have cut the sales tax to 5 percent.

“They are worried. A lot of Republicans are losing faith in the Republican character of our governor,” Lyons said on CommonWealth’s Codcast. “Charlie Baker doesn’t sound like the Republicans they’re seeing on Fox News.”

Lyons said some Republicans would like to see Baker go to war with the Democrat-controlled Legislature and fight for more conservative causes. He, however, says Baker’s strength is in choosing which battles to fight and framing issues differently than a Democrat would.

“The most radical thing Baker did with the MBTA was to see it as an organization of thousands of people, instead of a set of infrastructure liabilities, which is how progressives always frame the MBTA conversation,” Lyons said in an op-ed for CommonWealth. “He believed better management and more leverage with labor unions over costs and processes would be better long-term investments than new revenue.”

Lyons said Baker has also recruited Democrats into his cabinet to help frame issues. Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, for example, has embraced the governor’s reform-before-revenue approach and his use of privatization to secure concessions from the transit agency’s unions.

John Walsh, a former chairman of the state Democratic Party, holds a very different view of Baker. While most elected Democratic officials speak highly of Baker, Walsh trashes the governor for his failure to address many of the major issues facing the state, including the T, road congestion, education, and health care. “I don’t think he’s driving any agenda,” Walsh said on the Codcast.

Walsh thinks Baker is vulnerable politically because he’s too busy straddling political fault lines. He said the Republican base in Massachusetts doesn’t like him. “The energy in the party is in opposition to Charlie Baker,” Walsh said, an allusion to the state party convention in April where, despite the governor’s support for cutting the sales tax and imposing the death penalty on cop killers, 27.5 percent of the delegates backed Scott Lively, a pro-life pastor who is a big supporter of President Trump. (The Massachusetts Republican Party has tried to ignore Lively, going so far as to not include him in a recent Facebook poll of candidates for governor.)

Walsh also said Baker’s support among Democrats and independents is thin and fragile, noting the governor has never taken a stand on anything, except for expanding charter schools, a policy that was shot down by voters in 2016.  Walsh said the partisan Charlie Baker that delegates saw at the Republican convention is the real Charlie Baker.

“He’s not a half-assed Democrat,” Walsh said of Baker. “He’s a Republican who’s just sitting and waiting and he has no agenda other than no new taxes.”



Reviews for the just-completed legislative session continue to come in, and they’re not good. A Berkshire Eagle editorial said there is no excuse for a full-time Legislature procrastinating through every session and leaving all the major bills to the end. “The fault lies primarily with leadership most specifically House Speaker-for-life Robert DeLeo — and residents outside their districts never get to vote for or against them.” Speaking of DeLeo, he became the longest, continually serving speaker in Massachusetts history on Saturday. (State House News)

Boston Globe columnist Margery Eagan grumbles that state lawmakers failed to address climate change in a more aggressive fashion, but her big beef seems to be the failure to pass a plastic bag ban.

Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed a measure that would have directed state transportation officials to conduct a pilot testing whether lower tolls at off-peak times would help reduce congestion at peak times. (MassLive) He also sent back a civics education bill with an amendment. (MassLive)


Westport will get about $230,000 less next year in payments from the state because of a drop in value of state-owned land, including the popular Horseneck Beach and Gooseberry Island. (Herald News)


A Boston Globe editorial says student protests of ICE-sponsored research at Northeastern University are off the mark, and suggests the abolish-ICE push led by such candidates as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Ayanna Pressley may be similarly off-base.

President Trump admits a meeting between his son and other campaign aides with a Russian lawyer was intended to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, though he insists it was not illegal and is “done all the time in politics.” (New York Times)

Several steel companies with ties to the Trump administration have been successful in blocking  all applications for exemptions to tariffs that they have challenged so far. (New York Times)


Old adversaries William Lantigua and Marcos Devers are battling each other again, this time for the state rep seat being vacated by Juana Matias, who is running for Congress. Both Lantigua and Devers have issues with the state’s campaign finance law — over the last three years, Lantigua has paid $8,350 in fines for missing filing deadlines while Devers has paid $1,675. (Eagle-Tribune)

Should experience be a prerequisite for becoming a district attorney? The race in Suffolk County will answer that question. (Boston Globe).

Steve Koczela of the MassINC Polling Group says poll data indicate Democratic voters in the Seventh Congressional District want their elected leaders to be more aggressive in standing up to President Trump. (WBUR)

Liam Kerr of Democrats for Education Reform says a Democrat can beat Charlie Baker by looking to nuts and bolts reforms of the type approved by former governor Deval Patrick. (WGBH)


The Cape Cod Times runs a special series on the Cape’s readiness for a major hurricane and finds many homeowners are underinsured and are “underwater” with their mortgage higher than their home’s value.

From the available tea leaves, the Pawtucket Red Sox appear to be inching toward a move to Worcester. Minor league baseball officials are securing the trademark for “WooSox,” attendance in Pawtucket is tanking, and rumors are swirling that the team might play on an interim basis at the Holy Cross baseball field. (GoLocalProv)

Indra Nooyi, one of the few female CEOs of color of a major corporation, will step down from her position with PepsiCo after 12 years at the helm. (Washington Post)


Boston schools are becoming more segregated, with nearly two-thirds of them filled primarily (90 percent or more) with students of color and five schools nearly all white. (Boston Globe) Michael Loconto, the chair of the Boston School Committee, noted 86 percent of the 57,000 students in the city’s schools are people of color and asked whether the school system’s goal should be to spread out the white students, hire more staff of color, or offer more education on other cultures. (Boston Globe)

A Salem News editorial raises alarms about the rise in special education spending. Three years ago, according to the editorial, $1 of every $5 spent by schools went for special ed. That ratio has steadily increased, with Andover and North Andover now spending 27 percent of their funding on special ed.


Maine Gov. Paul LePage wrote a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker complaining that the memo of understanding laying out how the two states will cooperate in collecting tolls is too much of a one-way street in favor of Massachusetts. (Boston Herald)


Entergy has announced it will sell two of its soon-to-be-shuttered nuclear plants including the Pilgrim power plant in Plymouth to a company specializing in “accelerated decommissioning” of nuclear facilities. (State House News)

Biologists are investigating the cause of death of a 27-foot minke whale found along the shore in Marshfield. Minke whales, which are protected but not on the endangered species list, have been dying in unusually high numbers along the East Coast since January of 2017. (Patriot Ledger)

The cost of fighting wildfires has spiraled in the last 30 years from a combination of climate change, federal regulations, and residential patterns. (U.S. News & World Report)


Sen. Elizabeth Warren called the nation’s criminal justice system “racist…front to back.” (Associated Press)

A Wicked Local review of court data finds the number of cases in District Courts across the state has fallen by nearly 37 percent in the last 20 years, due mostly to a drop in civil and criminal cases which make up the bulk of actions in the courts.


The Brockton Enterprise is ramping up its feud with state Rep. Michelle DuBois, comparing the Democratic lawmaker to President Trump after she took to social media to label an Enterprise story about a suit against the city as “fake news” even though it was accurate.