In choosing state Senate Min. Leader Richard Tisei (R), who is openly gay, as his running mate (see Hotline 11/23), Harvard Pilgrim Health Care CEO/ex-MA HHS/Finance sec. Charlie Baker (R) is “sending an early signal about the fiscally conservative, socially moderate” admin. “he hopes to build.”
Baker’s choice “highlighted his eagerness to reach out” to Dems and indies who “dominate” the MA electorate and to “distinguish himself” from nat’l GOPers “who have alienated some voters with their party’s policies on gay rights.”
If elected, Tisei “would be the highest-ranking openly gay” GOPer “in the country,” according to DC-based Victory Fund.
Tisei “said he simply disagrees” with nat’l GOPers who oppose same-sex marriage. He “pointed out that, even as party leaders in other states have targeted” GOP candidates “for their support of gay rights, he has defended gay marriage in opinion pieces in his local paper and in a floor speech denouncing a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage that was backed by” ex-Gov. Mitt Romney (R).
Tisei: “I’m a Republican through and through, and we’re a family. And sometimes you agree to disagree on certain issues in your family.”
Baker, “whose brother is gay, also supports gay marriage. But neither he nor Tisei mentioned Tisei’s sexual orientation at an event introducing the new team” 11/23. Instead, Baker “emphasized that he and Tisei agree on the need to create jobs and stabilize the state budget.”
Selecting a gay running mate “is sort of an issue … but it’s nowhere near as important as the other stuff,” Baker “told reporters after the event at the Americal Civic Center in Wakefield.”
Baker: “The goal here if we win, when we win, in November is going to be to get stuff done, and part of getting stuff done is understanding how the building works and working reform through the process. And Richard’s been doing that for his entire career” (Levenson, Boston Globe, 11/24). More Baker, in a statement 11/23: “Throughout his career in public service, Richard has built a solid voting record as a fiscal conservative and a reformer of state government” (Johnson, AP, 11/23).
“By announcing their campaign now,” Baker and Tisei “can hold joint fundraisers both this calendar year and next, allowing them to seek the maximum $500 annual contribution from individuals in the six weeks remaining” in ‘09 and “during the 11 months next year before Election Day.” They “also can also tap their individual networks to funnel” $5K individual contributions to the MA GOP. Baker and Tisei “can also split campaign appearances across the state, and Tisei can help Baker with his outreach and intelligence in the Statehouse” (AP, 11/23).
Tisei “has won praise from supporters for his work ethic and humble, plainspoken style” (Boston Globe, 11/24).
But ‘06 indie candidate/ex-MA Turnpike Authority board member Christy Mihos (R) “said Baker’s pick means more of the same for tax-weary” voters. Mihos: “You can’t paint yourself as an outsider if you’ve worked on Beacon Hill for more than two decades.”
LG Tim Murray (D): “Sen. Tisei is a 25-year State House insider who typifies the Republican establishment elite that created record levels of debt and deferred maintenance. I was a quarterback on my high school football team when Sen. Tisei started serving in the Legislature” (Chabot, Boston Herald, 11/24).
Remember The ‘90s
Boston Globe’s Mooney writes, Baker is “trying to take” MA GOPers “back to the future” — ‘90, “to be specific, when the puny political party bounced back as the voice of fiscal conservatism and social moderation and began a 16-year hold on the governorship.” The Tisei choice “is another strong signal that tolerance” in MA “sets the state apart” from the nat’l “political culture” and that “same-sex marriage is no longer a flashpoint of political contention” in the state.”
But the choice “is not unprecedented.” In ‘02, then-acting Gov. Jane Swift (R) chose her then-dep. CoS/ex-state Sen. Patrick Guerriero (R) as her running mate. Swift’s “political fortunes deteriorated rapidly, however, and she abandoned her candidacy” when Romney “jumped into the race.” When Romney sought ‘06 GOV nominee/ex-LG Kerry Healey (R) as his running mate, Guerriero “bowed out.”
By the time he left office in ‘07, Romney “sounded more like” the gov. of SC than MA, becoming a nat’l figure in “opposing same-sex marriage.” Baker’s “choice of Tisei should provide comfort to voters worried that Baker might pursue a similar path” (11/24).
Meanwhile, Gov. Deval Patrick (D) and his wife, Diane Patrick, “will be in attendance” at tonight’s WH state dinner, the first of Pres. Obama’s term in office (Rhee, “MetroDesk,” Boston Globe, 11/24).
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