I have heard from a couple of friends who are thinking about voting for Charlie Baker for governor.
I’m not “shocked, shocked!” by this. I think many people of good will are motivated by a feeling that in today’s toxic political climate, we ought to try to find common ground with the “other side” when possible. There’s also a sense that we want to encourage the Charlie Baker wing of the GOP (vs. the Trump wing). Finally, Jay Gonzalez seems like a long shot, so perhaps there isn’t a sense of urgency about voting for him.
I don’t like to get into political arguments with my friends, even when I disagree as strongly as I do in this instance. But in this more impersonal venue, I want to make the case that it’s really important for all of us to vote, yes, against Charlie Baker and for Jay Gonzalez.
Our former Beverly state representative, Mary Grant, made this point very well in a recent email outlining why she actively supports Jay for governor—and why she actively opposes Charlie Baker, and isn’t giving him any points for his “moderate” image.
“Of all Republican governors,” Mary wrote, “our current governor is the largest fundraiser for the Republican National Committee…. [He] greatly compromises our values when he campaigns for and helps raise money for candidates in our Commonwealth who strongly support the current national agenda.”
Think about that—the largest fundraiser for the RNC!
In my 30 years in Vermont, starting in the mid-seventies, I frequently had reason to support Republican candidates, notably (but not only) our then-Congressman (and later Senator) Jim Jeffords, before he left the Republican party to become an independent. Sometimes there’s a great value to finding common ground with our opponents—it’s one reason I especially like working on nonpartisan municipal campaigns.
But this governor’s race is not a good place to look for that kind of common ground. Charlie Baker, when pushed to declare himself (as in the recent debate) is not standing up against the excesses of his own party. For this among other reasons, he hasn’t earned our support. Right now, our highest priority has to be standing up for our values and our principles. In the Massachusetts governor’s race, that means supporting Jay Gonzalez.
In Hampden County Baker has what appears to be overwhelming support. Many Democrats, including the mayor of Springfield, Domenic Sarno, have resoundingly endorsed him. Sarno even made a commercial for him.
Take a look at the 2016 presidential map.
There’s a lot of red there outside of the 128 belt, and in Hampden County, that is precisely because we are an area that has been in long, slow decline since the 1970s, primarily due to deindustrialization. And the state doesn’t seem to care because we don’t have the population to throw a wrench into the gears of government, electorally speaking.