Time for Kirsten Hughes to show some leadership. Will she step up?

The latest from the increasingly embarrassing debacle that was the Mass. GOP convention last weekend is that the party’s chairman of the rules committee, Steve Zykofsky, says that blank or “present” votes should not have been counted in determining whether Mark Fisher got the 15% of delegates he needed to make the ballot.  And if you don’t include those votes, Fisher would qualify.  But the party’s executive director, Rob Cunningham, disagrees with Zykofsky, arguing that the party’s head rules guy doesn’t understand the rules.  And Fisher says he will go to court if the party keeps trying to shut him out.

Cunningham’s defense of how things went at the convention is nothing short of hilarious.

Asked where the additional blank votes came from, he declined to provide details, but noted that officials from both campaigns were in the tally room where the vote was verified.

“That came out of independent, impartial tally room staff making the official vote in a controlled, overseen, and transparent environment in the back of the building,” Cunningham said.

He declined to provide a district-by-district tally of the votes to the Globe.

“In the back of the building.”  And he refuses to supply the actual tally to the press.  Sounds about as transparent as a brick wall.

Kirsten Hughes, the GOP chair who presumably has ultimate responsibility for this thing, was confused while it was actually happening.

The party’s vote-counters came up with a total of 2,533 votes later that night, after the convention emptied of activists. By their math, which included 64 blanks, Fisher fell just short of qualifying with 14.765 percent, Hughes said.

When she gave reporters the official vote tally, Hughes also asserted that blanks were not being counted.

“You can’t count blanks toward a bottom line,” said Hughes. “That’s not how it goes.”

Later, Hughes said she had misspoken and that the blanks had in fact, been counted.

Anyway, the point is that now, everyone knows the story: if you count the blanks, Fisher doesn’t make it, but if you don’t, he does.  Hughes is looking at a public dispute between her executive director and the chair of her rules committee, and if she doesn’t act quickly to restore order, Fisher is going to take her to court, guaranteeing that this will be prolonged for months.

What’s the right call?  Easy.  Hughes should overrule Cunningham, go with her rules chair, and declare that Fisher got his 15%.  That avoids a lawsuit (no way Charlie Baker would sue to keep Fisher off the ballot), it makes her look in-charge and decisive, and it’s the pro-small-d-democratic outcome.  It’s also much better for Baker to have a primary, whatever he or the party Pooh-Bahs may think.  Fisher is the perfect foil for Baker to prove to independent voters that he’s not the captive of the Tea Party, social conservative, RMG types who are probably the main reason Republicans do so badly in this state year after year.  Also, a primary keeps Baker in the news, instead of ceding the free publicity to the Dems as they slug out their five-way battle.

Baker had no primary in 2010, and we all know how that went for him.  He and Hughes should hold a presser to jointly welcome Fisher to the primary ballot.  They’d both come out smelling like roses.


25 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Horrifying

    I agree, it has to be fixed.

    Roses? Not sure. They’d look like they were covering their butts. But you’re right, it would be the right thing to do. I

  2. David, why would it be better

    for Baker to have primary? Do you mean under the circumstances or in general?

  3. If the best thing for Charlie is to have the primary...

    then let this be the first shoe to drop in their loosing strategy. Besides, I love almost anything that makes John Howard’s head explode.

  4. BOMBS AWAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I couldn’t agree more with David’s insightful analysis
    of this latest Republican debacle. I’ve stocked up on the popcorn and now I urge all my progressive Democratic
    friends to sit back and ‘FASTEN YOUR SITBELTS…WE’RE IN FOR A BUMPY RIDE’ (Betty Davis) :)

    And remember Fred’s first cardinal rule of Politics 101:
    “When your opponents are committing suicide, sit back, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT, and give the rope plenty of slack.”

    Or, as my pal Katherine Clark would say : “BOMBS AWAY” !



    Fred Rich LaRiccia

  5. Ummm...here's something to remember about the GOP and elections.

    The republicans are always ranting about election fraud! Perhaps, they should have used their own remedy that prevents all election problems. They should have required each of their convention delegates to show a government-issued picture ID before they voted.

  6. Schadenfreude.

    Enjoy the Elephants dancing on banana peels.

  7. Nice summary and free advice

    Makes me wonder how many times MA Democrats have to tell MA Republicans what they need to do to fix their self-imposed exile from being relevant to the MA body politic?

  8. Seconding the motion

    The urge to fix any problem which clearly shows the non democratic, rights destroying direction of the Republican Party should be suppressed. The public should judge on their own and vote accordingly. Our side has to preserve its energy to promote our way of conducting ourselves and to bring favored public policy to the electorate. Starting to correct the other side only invites a peeing contest. They will not look on it as constructive criticism, but rather they will scour the landscape to finagle some deficiency in their opposition. Doesn’t anyone remember Eric Fehrnstrom’s tweets during the senatorial campaign?

  9. I've been thinking about this for a week.

    The MassGOP’s position is untenable. No one believes that the process was a-ok. However, even if they were to admit that mistakes were made they seem content to call it case closed anyways because it all happened during the convention, and since it was not resolved at the convention there is now no way to resolve it. If it’s true that it isn’t possible to get Fisher on the ballot at this point, then there need to be resignations. Kristin Hughes needs to step up, or barring that, step down.

    The longer the party waits to admit the plainly obvious, that the convention was a shambles, the more it looks like fraud.

    I don’t know what to say to people who can’t see how egregiously wrong it is that he got his 15%, but through the malice or stupidity of the MassGOP, won’t be on the ballot. It’s like Massmarrier said, this is basic democracy and civics.

    If you are a Republican state-wide candidate and want to be on the ballot, and are not the party favorite, you would be insane to run as a Republican. You’re best bet is to run an an Independent because you sidestep any shenanigans and get a place on the ballot. Is that what the MassGOP wants? They aren’t doing anything to convince anyone otherwise. Joe Malone jumped ship to support McCormick. He seems right to have done that instead of urging McCormick into a Republican primary.

    • "The more it looks like a fraud"

      I find it very hard to believe it isn’t at this point, particularly given that the gavel closed the convention before there was any time to resolve the issue at the convention.

      All that was required to close the convention was, after all, a simple majority.

      If it wasn’t a deliberate attempt by the party pooh bahs to keep Fisher from the ballot, I can find little other reason for why they closed the convention down so early.

      Surely one of those pooh bahs would have said to the crowd that there were questions they needed to resolve which would take a few minutes, as they consulted the bylaws and robins rules… if this was some honest misunderstanding, rather than a deliberate attempt to boost Charlie Baker.

      • "Robin's Rules"?

        Not familiar with that particular manual of parliamentary law:)

        • Yes, Robin's Rules.

          Used exclusively at Mass GOP conventions. You can’t find a copy on Amazon or at your local library. But rest assured, the process is transparent.

          • There is a reason why the Mass GOP uses Robin's rules

            Remember, Batman was actually Bruce Wayne, a billionaire. Charlie Baker is the candidate for billionaires like Bruce Wayne. So, it’s natural that Charlie would choose Batman’s counterpart, Robin, for his rules!

          • I believe you mean Robert's Rules of Order

            As in Robert’s Rules of Order, if I may be pedantic for a minute.

          • Yes, robin's rules

            This plan includes the following five rules: 1) Eyes on speaker, 2) Lips closed, 3) Ears listening, 4) Sit up straight, and 5) Hands and feet quiet.

            You may consult the source if you want to see just how exquisitely unpleasant kindergarten can be for you and your fellow delegates.

      • The other reason.

        People had parties to get to. Seriously. Reservations were made.

        You understand things the way I do. If you want to prevent Fisher from contesting the results at the convention then you adjourn the convention before announcing the results. Makes sense as a deliberate act.

  10. Did a Baker, Fisher meeting happen this weekend?

    Stephanie Ebbert

    Nearly a week after the controversial Republican nominating convention, wrangling continued Friday between the two GOP hopefuls for governor. Tea Party Republican Mark R. Fisher, who has protested his exclusion from the primary ballot for governor, said he delayed filing a lawsuit against the party Friday because he was approached by representatives from Charlie Baker’s campaign about a weekend meeting to resolve the dispute. But Baker spokesman Tim Buckley said, “There is no meeting planned.”

    Fisher said a meeting with Baker would be only be worthwhile if the party agreed to place his name on the September primary ballot, based on the votes cast by delegates at last Saturday’s convention.

  11. Mark Fisher's going to court

    so says WBUR.

    Baker’s “both sides of the fence” response:

    Baker said he respects Fisher’s decision and he’s confident the party will work to ensure the process was fair. He said if it’s determined a primary is needed, he’ll welcome it.

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Tue 21 Feb 8:31 PM