Bakers easily avoids primary; race for auditor only Republican contest
WORCESTER—Republican delegates, still bitter over Christy Mihos’ independent run for governor they say cost Kerry Healey the corner office, gave Charles Baker a free pass to the three-way November election.
“I’ve always been grateful for Charlie’s loyalty and unwavering support for my candidacy against Deval Patrick and Christy Mihos,” Healey said in nominating Baker at the convention here Saturday to boisterous applause. “That’s what good Republicans do.”
Prior to the delegate count, Mihos confidently predicted he would easily pass the 15 percent threshold needed to get onto the primary ballot in September.
But when all the votes were counted, Baker had 2,544 to Mihos’ 318, just 11.1 percent of the ballots cast. Mihos said he was “happy” it was at an end and has the opportunity to spend time at his Cape residence with Andrea, his wife of 35 years, who said she unsuccessfully tried to talk him out of running this year. He said he’s done as a candidate but would help others in the GOP and stay active with his pet causes such as rolling back the sales tax to 3 percent and the income tax to 5 percent.
Mihos, who had been courting the Tea Party leading up to the convention, tried to buff his conservative bona fides by picking former Boston University professor Mildred Jefferson, a darling of social conservatives and especially the prolife supporters, to deliver his nomination speech.
But Jefferson’s 20-minute rambling speech said little about Mihos or state government and focused on federal initiatives such as the recent health care reform. She likened it to the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the World Trade Center.
There was a concerted effort to paint Mihos as being inconsistent with his social positions with fliers circulating with quotes he’s made over the years in support of gay rights, gay marriage and abortion rights.
Afterward, Baker did not deny his campaign worked hard to avoid a primary and allow him to focus on the general election with Patrick and State Treasurer Tim Cahill.
“This gives us a tremendous amount of momentum to, launch us into this next phase,” said Baker, adding he spoke with Mihos after the delegate count and was assured by the convenience store magnate he would support the ticket.
The only other potential primary was in the race for State Auditor where former Mass Pike Board Member Mary Z. Connaughton garnered 86.9 percent of the vote to newcomer Kamal Jain’s 14.1 percent. But a hand recount was going on into the evening. Under GOP convention rules, the percentage is rounded up to the nearest half-point. If Jain was able to get to 14.5 percent on the recount, he’d make the ballot pending gathering enough signatures.
Convention officials later said the recount showed Jain qualified for the ballot by one vote, getting 14.52 percent of the delegate count and then rounding it up to 15 percent.
Jain, who said he leaned more toward many of Mihos’ positions than Baker’s, said he saw a strong floor effort to sway voters away from giving Mihos the necessary delegates.
“They’re clearly attacking Christy on certain points,” he said.
Despite a weakened Martha Coakley in the attorney general’s office, the party was unable to field a candidate. State Rep. Karyn Polito of Shrewsbury and Woburn City Clerk William Campbell won the nominations for state treasurer and secretary of state respectively.
But Mihos’ people made some attempts to derail the certainty of a Baker-led ticket. Mihos’ campaign passed out fliers highlighting Sen. Richard Tisei’s sponsorship of a bill that would extend civil rights protection to, among others, transgender people. Some opponents have said because of the public accommodations aspect of the bill, transgendered men would be allowed to use women’s bathrooms.
Baker’s campaign was forced to issue a flier declaring he would veto “the bathroom bill” if it reached his desk as governor, putting him at odds with Tisei.
But few thought the issue would give delegates a pause. “I don’t think this election is coming down to bathrooms,” said delegate Peter V. Forman of Plymouth, former House minority leader and Plymouth County Sheriff.
Forman said Mihos’ attacks on Healey in 2006 were fresh in many delegates’ minds.
“I think there are a lot of people who are resentful,” said Forman, who said a primary would be a “distraction.” “There’s too much memory from four years ago.”Delegate Barbara T. Bush, a member of the Boston Republican City Committee, said Mihos’ rejection was simple.
“Christy had his chance and blew it four years ago,” she said. “It’s Charlie’s time.”