A really bad day for the Mass. GOP

As you probably know by now, Jason Lewis won today’s special election to replace Katherine Clark in the state Senate.  He beat a solid opponent (Melrose alderman Monica Medeiros) in a seat that, for a long time, was held by Richard Tisei.  The GOP no doubt wanted that one back, but Lewis, as a sitting state rep, was always the favorite.  Also, Democrat RoseLee Vincent won a contested (though I think not all that seriously) election in the 16th Suffolk to represent Revere, Chelsea, and Saugus.

The GOP’s loss out in Westfield has to hurt a lot more.  That seat, the 4th Hampden previously held by Don Humason, has been held by the GOP for many years.  But today, Democrat John Velis turned it blue, beating Republican Dan Allie.  It’s not like the GOP can afford to lose seats in the state legislature.  I just got an email from the DC-based Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee touting Velis’s win.  So the GOP’s failure to hold this seat has not gone unnoticed.

And on top of the election results comes the not-unexpected-but-still-embarrassing news that disappointed gubernatorial candidate Mark Fisher has followed through on his threat to sue the Mass. GOP over their refusal to put him on the ballot despite his apparently having obtained enough votes at the convention if you do the math correctly.  Globe:

The opening of the intraparty battle could prove a distraction for the GOP, which is hoping to focus squarely on winning back the governor’s office after eight years of Democratic control. Both sides appear to be arming for battle.

On Monday, Fisher deposited $50,000 of his own money into his campaign account, which could be used to fuel his legal fight, according to his campaign manager, Debbie McCarthy.

Meanwhile, Kirsten Hughes, the party chairwoman, blasted out an e-mail on Tuesday to the party’s top activists, saying she has consulted legal experts and is preparing to launch a defense fund to fend off Fisher’s lawsuit.

This is such a bad move by Hughes.  Instead of inviting Fisher onto the ballot, thus appearing magnanimous and in favor of democracy and competition (isn’t the GOP supposed to like competition?), she’s going to (a) spend a pile of money she can’t afford on a lawsuit that (b) she is probably going to lose, all the while (c) letting the media write about the lawsuit rather than Baker, even though the whole point of keeping Fisher off the ballot was supposed to be to keep the focus on Baker.  If she does lose, she ends up looking ineffective and petulant.  And even if she wins, what has she achieved?  She avoids a primary that Charlie Baker would obviously win anyway, thereby depriving him of the ability to boost his appeal to independent/moderates by contrasting himself with the tea-partying Fisher.  Yes, keeping Fisher off the ballot would make it easier to fundraise because the party can openly back him, but Baker is not going to have any trouble raising money (he did fine last time).

What a terrible start to Hughes’s tenure as Mass. GOP chair.


22 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Westfield.

    I’m guessing that John Velis win had a good deal to his being an Afghan war veteran. This may not bode well for Tierney (or Tisei).

    • I don't know about that

      I heard next to nothing about that primary, and they have six months to go. DiFranco will attract her goofball supporters, and just seems to enjoy lighting kerosene over the charred remains of the bridges she burned during her last run. As for Moulton, I haven’t heard a thing from him here or out in the national blogosphere. My parents live in the district now, and my extended family always has, and they haven’t seen much of either. The Salem relatives have seen Tierney out and about, and my parents are Wakefield based and have seen Tisei, but nothing from Moulton.

      I said before I have my concerns about Tierney, but he is also a vigorous campaigner who won’t back down, and the issues are trending his way. Tisei should be his biggest threat, I don’t see him losing his primary.

    • Doubt his Afghanistan service

      was the deciding factor. This was a race in a single city. A higher than usual number of people would have decided opinions on these guys. John Velis looks like the hometown kid with appealing experience:

      Born and raised in Westfield, John graduated from Westfield High and earned a BS from the University of South Florida and a law degree from Suffolk University. John quickly established an impressive record of commitment to government service as an intern for the Hampden County DA’s office, Hampden County Superior Court, the Mass. State Treasurer’s Office, and even the White House.

      Dan Allie looks like he’s very involved in Republican politics, but he’s a city councilor and may have limited appeal. Based on his website, it doesn’t look like he’s from Westfield. He lacks a four-year college degree and seems to have bounced around career-wise. I don’t feel like doing more research on the guy, but this gem may say it all:

      Dan was on the student council in middle school and President of the Junior Historical Society. Dan lived across the street from and helped maintain the Winslow-Davis house, mowing the lawn and helping with events.

  2. It's too bad IMO...

    …that all of these winners will just have to wake up tomorrow morning and keep running for the regular election this fall. I wish the Constitution provided that any special election held after papers are available for the regular cycle exempts the winner from having to run again that year. In other words if I had my way those who won tonight should be able to keep their seats until the 2016 election.

  3. Just out of curiousity...

    …since all of these races seem to have been hotly contested why did the Lewis race get so much more play on BMG than the others? Is it just a matter of where BMGers were involved?

  4. They should put Fisher on the ballot and be done with it

    it makes sounds general election sense, FIsher isn’t gonna grab off the nomination and his presence on the ballot allows Baker to track to the center as a “responsible independent republican” all the easier. It is where he has to be to prevail in the Fall anyway…Fisher could be a Godsend in that department. Leaving him off the ballot just enrages his Tea Partei Cultists, putting him on is taking Short Term Heat for Long Term Gain. You’d think they’d get this, but then again this is Charlie Baker who himself could screw up a two car funeral.

    Elias N

  5. Icing on cake

    Mass GOP decision to charge candidates $25,000 to speak at convention means Fisher adds a breach of contract claim to his lawsuit (in addition to his constitutional claim — deprivation of right of political association).

    Seems right somehow.

  6. Email from Kirsten, as it appears on RMG...

    Text of email from Red Mass Group

    Good Morning State Committee Members,

    As you may know, yesterday afternoon Mark Fisher filed a complaint. I am conferring with our General Counsel, your colleague Ed McGrath. Once we have a strategy, we will have a conference call to share an initial assessment of the matter and answer any questions we can.

    For your information, below is the statement I released to the press yesterday:

    “Our legal counsel will review the specifics of Mr. Mark Fisher’s allegations. We are certain the outcome will prove that processes were properly followed in accordance with our rules. Additionally, all ballot challenges were thoroughly and properly adjudicated in an open manner during the Convention with Mr. Fisher’s legal counsel present. Our Party and our candidates remain focused on proposing solutions to restore common sense and balance to Beacon Hill and we look forward to continuing to hear out Mr. Fisher’s issues and to bring the matter to a close.”

    Attached for your reference is the legal memo I emailed to you yesterday in regards to our legal authority.

    Thank you,


  7. Democrat Dan Hunt won the 13th Suffolk district yesterday.

    But since the Republicans were unable to even field a token looser, Dan won 97.01% of the vote, against 48 write in ballots. And guess what, when the votes are counted in an official election, the blank votes do not count in the percentages (unlike in the Republican Party).

    See How Votes are counted in the Real World.

  8. I was able to find a copy of the complaint Fisher filed.


  9. Imagine

    If Charlie Baker resorts to these kinds of “shenanigans” to keep a minor opponent off the primary ballot, imagine what he will do if elected Governor. Perhaps the process would have been cleaner had he orchestrated a threat of federal indictments against Mr. Fisher, then dropped that threat after Mr. Fisher withdrew himself from the race.

    Imagine what ANY candidate who would do these sorts of things in the early stages of a campaign will do when handed the full powers of the corner office.

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Tue 21 Feb 8:33 PM