Friday, March 28, 2014

MA GOP niggling and wiggling

You'd think from experience the utter disingenuous John Boehner or R.M. Nixon or even hearing the testimony of a sneaky what-your-definition-of-is-is W.J. Clinton that even arrogant New Englanders would sense their limits. Instead the MA GOP spits in the faces of one of their candidates, their convention delegates, the larger party and voters.

The self-created disgrace continues. For the latest on the filthy deals at the convention, see today's Globe piece. I've also been one of many who's covered this, like here.

The point is this is not going away. The GOP functionaries can continue to wave their hands, but that changes nothing. This actually is simple.

  • Certain GOP gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker didn't blow out the convention.
  • Also-ran Mark Fisher, the proud Tea Party, full-platform Republican, squeaked out a little over 15% of the convention delegate vote, as required to force a primary. 
  • Done and done? Big no. See the Globe piece for details on how the party snuck behind everyone to deny reality. 

The punchline is my standard from my favorite philosopher/comic/junkie Lenny Bruce — There is only what is and that's it. What should be is a dirty lie.

The local GOPpers instead try the same crap you can hear at a country club bar or a Dorchester pub. Lie loudly and repeatedly, daring more honest and honorable folk to challenge you.

The Party doesn't want their party inconvenienced. They appear to have it in mind that an uncontested primary is their best bet for winning a statewide office in who can remember how long. To make that happen, they have fudged and cheated and scammed. Honk. Wrong!

Regular readers here know that Fisher and I differ vastly politically. I like him and trust him though. He's a straight-ahead, Boy Scout kind of guy, as am I. Understandably, he's suing to get what he earned — a shot at losing to Baker in a party primary...fair and square.

I remain to be convinced that uncontested primaries are an absolute good. A lot of research questions that as well. Moreover, it's wrong, really immoral, to clear the field against the party procedures and rules, just because. Some of the party insiders, notably Executive Director Rob Cunningham, are even denigrating Fisher's call to obey their own counting rules as irrelevant.

The MA GOP has long specialized in patronizing and insulting the majority of our voters, a.k.a. the unenrolled. This year, they seem intent on telling their own to buzz off. If enough party members are as delusional, that may well work. I'm betting though that Fisher's suit calling for obeying the rules will make that moot.

Alas, this was so simple. I think of the non-stop lunacy of the national GOP on the Affordable Care Act. All that was necessary was honesty; say thank God that the Dems came around to the Republican plan for health-care and implemented it; we win! Instead, they appear to be what they are, obstreperous asses.

Likewise, in Boston, the MA GOP need only have praised themselves for their open democracy and model convention. Instead, they reveal they are liars, sneaks and frauds.  How simple victory could have been.

By the bye, if you ever need confirmation of how sneaky they are, go to the party site. They don't cover anything meaningful. They never have controversial issues. They are months behind the times. They don't even post the approved party platform. They lack both courage and wisdom. You can thrive with only one of those but not without at least one.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Baker's Free Ride or Free Fall

It wasn't a clean and definitive win for Charlie Baker. Yet as far as the MA GOP bigs are concerned, he cleared the field of his single primary opponent, Mark Fisher.

A few more days may pass until we're positive that, unlike the Dems, the GOP'ers will have an uncontested race at the very top of the ticket. The debate includes how real the 14.765% of yesterday's convention ballot was. Fisher needs 15% to get on the primary ballot.

Complicating it is that the rules say blank ballots don't count. The party tabulators did instead tally 64 blanks, knocking Fisher down below 15% (as in Baker at 2,095 to Fisher at 394 and Fisher at 15.829 without blanks).

Fisher and I had a good chat at Left Ahead last week. I'll stick in his half-hour show below. He also graciously called me before the convention to thank me for being reasonable and respectful to him, as he was to me despite our political disparities. I can't run a Baker show; neither his campaign manager nor his communications director has responded to numerous requests.

Today, Fisher's FB feed includes:
Dear Friends,Thank you for your support over the last 5 months. I am currently speaking with lawyers about being jobbed out by Kirsten Hughes at the Massachusetts Republican Party "Kangaroo Convention". There were improprieties in the counting of the 'blank' vote that occurred which were not allowed to be challenged and no re-count was allowed. I will let you know our plans in the coming days.
He certainly has every right to feel cheated and to fight.

I don't know anyone who thinks Fisher would win a primary election against Baker. Yet we simple folk who took civics classes cling stubbornly to rudimentary concepts of democracy and fairness.

Conventional wisdom on this is that an uncontested primary is far better for the candidate than spending money and energy before a general election, all the while getting prodded and exposed by another party member.

Today's Globe has a pretty good piece on the convention results. They include a contrarian of moment, former Gov. Bill Weld, among the several saying how great it will be for Baker if he goes unprimaried. Weld says a Fisher challenge would help Baker interest unenrolled voters. As we all note here in MA, with 53% of voters unenrolled, that is where elections are won.

For analysis of uncontested MA primaries, you can try your own tabulation. Instead, look at the stats compiled and analyzed over at the Mass. Numbers blog. Over there in Nov. 2012, Bret Benson admitted the samples are small and Dems rarely have top seats without primaries. However, he concludes that most times, it works solidly in the GOP's advantage to clear the field for governor.

I note and admire the relentless optimism of the MA GOP leaders. I've heard the shouts of the party chairs from the carousel that seems to spin them off so quickly. This election will be different, like Weld or Mitt Romney and such. This is the right candidate at the right time. Then again, they insisted that when Baker went against Deval Patrick.

They would be foolish to turn down real or perceived advantages. Moreover, we have a long if irrational history here of the unenrolled claiming that voting for Republican governors to keep a check on the monolithic Dems. The wide disparity from one Dem legislator to another is plenty of restraint, more than a single chief executive could impose.

So it comes down to Baker. He's trimmed down and comes across a lot more human than in his last run. It may be long enough from his slash-and-burn at Harvard Pilgrim and his Big Dig associations that he can run pretty clean.

We in MA also are quite forgiving and don't burn an L for loser in the foreheads of unsuccessful politicians. Two or three goes at a high office are OK around here. Baker too has the plus of two full terms of a Dem governor. Those many voters who like that fairy tale of the magic of balance only a GOP can bring will certainly want a change on that alone.

Instead, I like the agon, when a governorship or presidency is the prize. Surprisingly, I find myself on Weld's side here. Whoever ends up as the Dem candidate will emerge well defined and with clear positions and personality traits for voters to see. For the other side, wouldn't it be swell to have the same?

Monday Followup: The Globe reports that Fisher remains unhappy at the appearance of a fix being in on the count and rules. MA GOP bigs deny both. I call with Baker the sure winner of a primary, the party should have let Fisher have a go, pretended they were honest and honorable, and not alienated unenrolled and GOP voters.

Update: Autoplay on Blogger started this regardless of settings. That's annoying. I removed the embedded player. Instead, click here to listen.