Without Gov. Charlie Baker, Massachusetts Republicans are on the verge of political oblivion.
But as the party gets ready to nominate a new leader, the popular governor’s resignation offers a significant break in the long-running power battle that has immobilised the state GOP, offering Republicans in this very blue state the chance to realign and rebuild — if they choose to take it.
A string of financially conservative and socially moderate Republican governors who have won elections by appealing to voters of all parties have supported the GOP in liberal Massachusetts for decades. However, the rise of Donald Trump weakened the GOP and jeopardised its chances of winning elections.
Baker will step down from his position on Thursday and be succeeded by Maura Healey, the state attorney general who defeated Geoff Diehl, the Republican candidate backed by Trump, by nearly 30 points. Republicans will possess no statewide or federal elected posts as a result of the resignation of Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, who was formerly seen as Baker’s heir apparent. The party’s representation in the state’s registered electorate has fallen below 9%, and its legislative minority has once more shrunk.
Nevertheless, Baker advises against writing the state GOP off, noting that the party has survived leadership voids in the past.
In a recent interview, Baker, who decided against running for a third term, stated that “democracies don’t really enjoy one-party rule for a lot of reasons.” I believe it would be foolish to dismiss the party.
However, Republicans must first stop undermining their own cause. Republicans are so cash-strapped and paralysed by internal strife as a result of Baker’s protracted conflict with state GOP Chair Jim Lyons, a staunchly pro-Trump conservative who has led the party since 2019, that they can hardly get anything done at state committee meetings, much less win elections.
Republicans may band together to fight a shared foe as a result of the Democratic takeover on Beacon Hill. And it could provide the fresh start that Republicans on opposite sides of the internal rift want for, along with the party’s leadership election at the end of January.
As the state GOP chair under Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, Baker ally Jennifer Nassour said in an interview, “I do see an incredible opportunity without having a governor, I honestly do.” “When there is no governor, you are free to create your own system.”
One of the first looks into how the party’s post-midterm reckoning is playing out at the state level—and how difficult it can be—is provided by the Massachusetts GOP’s recalibrating.
The ideological divide in the Bay State’s Republican Party is not well defined. Furthermore, it cannot be reduced to a conflict between those who have backed Trump, like Lyons, and those who have not, like Baker.
Arguments over the party’s future course after Trump are rife. However, its cracks are also exacerbated by intensely private grievances and legal disputes over its money.
In addition to suing individuals he believes are attempting to destroy him, Lyons has asked the federal government to look into the party’s spending while being backed by Baker. Before Ron Kaufman, the national committeeman for Massachusetts, chose not to run for re-election, he led an effort to have Kaufman removed from his position as treasurer of the Republican National Committee.
To prevent Lyons from having the quorum he needs to adopt a budget, disgruntled party members have left state committee meetings. Lyons has retaliated by suing the party treasurer for restricting access to the group’s bank account. The most well-known conservative radio personality and columnist in the state, Howie Carr, has turned against him.
Lyons has been asked to leave by Baker for more than a year. With his deals with the Democratic-controlled Legislature and his contempt for Trump, the moderate Republican alienated a segment of his party, and Lyons has advised him to “reconsider his party identification.”
Republicans basically ran two slates of candidates in the election last year as a result of the intraparty feuding.
Both came up short. Both sides are blaming one another.
Baker and his friends have come under fire from Lyons’ supporters for their refusal to support Diehl while vigorously supporting a more conservative Republican for auditor. They complain that Baker hasn’t done enough to strengthen the party’s bench and take offence at a super PAC supported by his backers that also backs centrist Democrats.
I recognise that Diehl wasn’t going to prevail in that race. But there was a time when we all backed our nominee because that was the party’s will, said Todd Taylor, a Chelsea city councillor and Lyons ally on the state committee who lost his race for state representative last November. “We can’t have internal saboteurs,”
Lyons has come under fire from Baker’s supporters for steering the party in a hard-right and Trumpian path that hasn’t worked in solidly blue Massachusetts, where Trump has suffered of of his worst general election losses, and for alienating donors in the process. Additionally, they object to his use of the party’s limited funds to support his numerous lawsuits.
Baker stated that it’s “essential to kind of take stock of where the party is and what occurred and what to do about it” in an interview he conducted last week in his ceremonial office at the State House.