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Dec. 18, 2013, 3:28 p.m.

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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