Rick Green, one of the two leading candidates for chairman of the Mass. GOP, made what is really quite a startling accusation on WRKO the other day. Here’s what he said in the course of explaining how it is that Massachusetts Democrats have been so successful in the last couple of election cycles (audio is posted here):
The Democrat party – the gentleman John Walsh, who chairs their party, and his union thugs – have created quite an organization.
Outrageous, right? Apparently, all the behind-the-scenes work getting Democratic candidates to coordinate their voter ID efforts, the epic door-knocking campaigns, the GOTV operations, and all the rest of the stuff that actually worked (and that even Republicans, in more reflective moments, acknowledge that they need to emulate if they are to succeed) had nothing to do with winning. It was the “union thugs” that made it happen. I don’t even know what that is supposed to mean beyond the usual GOP demonization of working people.
Anyway, since Green’s comment is a patently ridiculous and inflammatory accusation, and since Rep. Dan Winslow (R-Norfolk) had previously “enthusiastically endorsed” Green to head the Mass. GOP, and since we know Winslow to be a reasonable sort, I asked Winslow about Green’s comments. What transpired can be read in its entirety on Twitter; here is the main part of the back and forth:
BMG: still waiting to hear whether you agree with Rick Green that the secret to @JohnEWalshDem’s success is “union thugs”
Winslow: Do you concede that there any ANY thugs in
#mapoli–people who use/threaten violence or advocate violence?
BMG: Like Kerry Healey’s orange jumpsuit guys? Come on Dan, you can do better than that. Answer the question.
Winslow: Like “blood on streets” or “blood & teeth on floor”? All bad. GOP or Dem I condemn all violence in politics.
BMG: What a pathetic dodge. Green claimed that @JohnEWalshDem relies on “union thugs” to win elex. Do you agree?
Winslow: Not a dodge. First want to agree on underlying premise of discussion. You agree there ANY thugs in
BMG: Not playing that game. It’s a yes or no question: is Green correct in saying that @JohnEWalshDem relies on “union thugs” to win?
That was pretty much the end of it. Winslow simply would not say whether he agreed or disagreed with Green’s statement.
There was one brief moment later when I thought we might make progress. Another user had chimed in that maybe we had a definitional problem – maybe to Green, every union member is a “union thug,” so that any union participation in GOTV efforts would by definition involve “union thugs.” So I asked Dan whether that was the case.
BMG: Maybe we can clear this up. Dan: do you use “union thug” as synonym for “union member”? Or does “thug” require more?
Winslow: I use “thug” to refer to someone who uses violence or intimidation or threats in politics. Hurts democracy. You?
BMG: At least we agree on that. Back to original question: is Green right re @JohnEWalshDem and “union thugs”?
After that, crickets. Winslow has tweeted several times since then, but never addressed what is, in fact, a simple yes or no question.
The bottom line is this: I asked Winslow several times whether he agreed with Green’s comment. He refused to answer. From that, I think it’s fair to say that at the very least, he does not disavow it.