We now have no GOP officeholder on the statewide level (and had fewer statewide candidates than the Green-Rainbow party – which wasn’t even a formal party before the election and I don’t believe will become one now because Grace Ross garnered only 2% of the vote instead of the necessary 3%). [NOTE (by David): I assume that Jill Stein’s 18% in the Secretary of State race and James O’Keefe’s 16% in the Treasurer’s race would suffice, no?]
We got manhandled in the Legislature, losing 1 senate seat (down to 5) and 2 house seats (down to 19). Even long-time rep Susan Pope (13th Middlesex) was shown the door. On the South Shore, by the Grace of God we were able to hold onto Bob Hedlund’s senate seat and two close house seats (Webster and Williams Gifford). Luckily, none of the incumbent GOP DA’s had Dem challengers, or we might have lost them as well.
Among the GOP disasters was my race against Lynch – where we got absolutely killed. Our strategy for victory was to carry our hometown of Brockton, get our fair share in the normally GOP-leaning suburbs, and keep Lynch’s Boston margin to no more than 2:1. Well, needless to say we didn’t even come close. Once we found out that we had lost Brockton by 3:1 (we knew that even before the Globe and AP because we had observers at city hall), we immediately threw in the towel, conceded, and hunkered down for a disastrous night in MA and across the nation for the GOP. (We lost Boston by 9:1).
So what’s next for the Mass GOP?
First, we need new party leadership. Although current Mass GOP chairman Darrell Crate is a nice guy and tried his hardest, he and his team are now 0-for-2 (remember the ’04 GOP legislative disaster where we also lost seats?) He and his team should follow the lead of RNC chairman Ken Mehlman and offer their resignations en masse before the end of the year.
Second, we need to recruit a new leadership team, preferably folks from outside of Massachusetts who have experience in party-building.
Third, we need to strip the Mass GOP of the social and cultural conservatism better suited for the party’s stronghold in the West and South (and which Gov. Romney is now embracing for his presidential run). We need to return to being Rockefeller Republicans – and a good start is agreeing to kill, once and for all, the Con-Con on gay marriage. We all have much bigger fish to fry. In fact, if the GOP legislative leadership were to announce before the end of the year that they do not oppose killing the amendment, that would send a fresh new signal to the electorate that the Mass GOP isn’t to be confused with the segment of the party whose heads are Marilyn Musgrave and Tom Tancredo.
Fourth, the new GOP leadership team must focus on recruiting challengers for (a) key municipal elections in ’07 and (b) the ’08 legislative races. If Kerry’s senate seat opens up, then the GOP should focus on running strong races in the subsequently open house races as house incumbents seek to move up – although with his newly-found kingly power as chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Barney Frank won’t be among them.
Finally, we have to determine what we stand for and communicate that to the electorate. Healey’s overall message, while strong, got lost in the crime/rape contretemps.
While I obviously wish the incoming Patrick Administration the best, one-party rule on Beacon Hill is just as problematic as one-party rule on Capitol Hill. Herein, I believe, lies salvation for the Mass GOP.
So, as I prepare to partake in a real Veteran’s Day celebration here in the GOP stronghold of southwest FL (where GOP congressmen win over Dem challengers by the same margins as Dems win in MA), short of moving to FL and running, I’ll return to MA with a new-found sense of purpose to focus on rebuilding the Mass GOP on the South Shore and across the Commonwealth. Happy Veteran’s Day and happy 231st birthday to the U.S. Marine Corps!