Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker introduced former state Rep. Karyn Polito as his running mate this morning at a press event in Shrewsbury.
Both candidates dodged questions about Polito’s Tea Party affiliation and anti-LGBT record. During her 10 years in the state House, Polito voted for a constitutional amendment that would have defined civil marriage as exclusively heterosexual, voted against repeal of the law preventing non-resident same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts, voted against protecting transgender people under the state’s hate crimes and anti-discrimination laws, co-sponsored an anti-gay “parent’s rights” bill penned by anti-LGBT hate group president Brian Camenker, and filed an official complaint when the Registry of Motor Vehicles began allowing transgender people to change the sex designation on their drivers license without proof of sex reassignment surgery.
Asked by a reporter whether Polito considers herself “under the Tea Party umbrella”, Polito answered in reference to Shrewsbury that “This is my umbrella. This is home. These are the people that support me and this is who I represent.”
Calling herself a fiscal conservative, Polito went on to say that “I believe in small government, lower taxes, less regulation. That’s what my record stands for, that’s what I believe in my core, and that’s the label that I ask you to assign me.”
Whether she also believes in her core that LGBT people should still be discriminated against under the law, as her legislative record indicates, neither she nor Baker would comment.
When a reporter from Boston Herald noted that Polito’s social policies differ greatly from those of Baker’s former running mate, openly-gay state Sen. Richard Tisei, and asked whether that difference was a factor in Baker’s choice of Polito, Baker would only restate the campaign’s apparent tagline, “jobs, schools and communities”.
“Giving the people of Massachusetts a state government that’s as thrifty and hardworking and creative as they are. That’s the way we’re going to run this race, and that’s what we’re going to talk about,” he said.
There’s a radical-right elephant in the room. The question is, how long can Polito and Baker pretend it isn’t there?
Update (12/6): The Baker campaign has released a statement on Polito’s marriage views. Read about it and my reaction here.