When Baker leaves office on Thursday, she will be replaced by a Democrat — Maura Healy, the state attorney general who defeated the Trump-backed Republican nominee, Geoff Diehl, by nearly 30 points. Once Baker’s successor, Lt. Gov. Karen Polito is also dropping out, leaving Republicans with no statewide or federal elected office. The party’s share of the state’s registered voters has dropped below 9 percent and its legislative minority has shrunk again.
Still, Baker cautioned against issuing an obituary for the state GOP, saying the party has in the past filled leadership vacancies.
“Democracies really don’t like one-party rule for a number of reasons,” Baker said in an interview. “I think it unwise to write [the party off],
But first, Republicans need to stop sabotaging themselves. Baker’s long-running feud with state GOP chairman Jim Lyons, a Trump supporter who has supported the party since 2019, has left Republicans so strapped for cash they can barely attend state committee meetings Do business, win elections alone.
A Democratic takeover on Beacon Hill could unite Republicans against a common enemy. And that, combined with the party’s leadership election in late January, could offer reset Republicans on both sides of the intraparty divide craving.
Baker aide Jennifer Nassour, who served as chair of the state GOP during the term of Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, said in an interview, “I see a huge opportunity without the governor, I really do.” “When you don’t have a governor, you make your own thing.”
The Massachusetts GOP recount provides one of the first glimpses of how the party’s midterm reckoning is playing out at the state level — and how complicated it could get.
The Bay State’s Republican rift doesn’t break cleanly along ideological lines. Nor can it be classified simply as a divide between those who have supported Trump, such as Lyons, and those who do not, such as Baker.
Differences are running rampant over the direction of the party after Trump. But its cracks are also filled with deep personal grudges and legal battles over its finances.
Lyons has demanded federal investigation into party spending Baker sued under and allies who he claims are trying to sabotage him. He led a campaign to oust one of his enemies, Ron Kaufman, as treasurer of the Republican National Committee, before Kaufman, the Massachusetts national committeeman, decided not to seek another term.
People frustrated with Lyons’ leadership walked out of state committee meetings for refusing the quorum needed to pass the budget – in response to which Lyons sued the party’s treasurer for blocking access to her bank account . Howie Carr, the state’s most prominent conservative radio host and columnist, has turned against him.
Baker has called for Lyons to step aside for over a year. Lyons has called on moderate Republicans, who alienated a faction of their party through their disdain for the Democratic-controlled Legislature and Trump, “to reconsider their party affiliation.”
The infiltration culminated in effectively running two slates of Republican candidates in last year’s election.
Both lost to a large extent. And each side is blaming the other.
Lyons’ supporters slammed Baker and his allies for refusing to back Diehl while campaigning heavily for more like-minded Republicans for the auditor. They say Baker hasn’t done enough to build the party’s bench and bristle at a super PAC funded by his donors that supports centrist Democrats as well as Republicans.
“I understand [Diehl] Wasn’t going to win that election. But there was a time when we all supported our nominee because that was the party’s will,” said Todd Taylor, a Lyons colleague on the state committee and a Chelsea city councilman who lost his campaign for state representative. Said in an interview. “We cannot sabotage people from within.”
Baker’s supporters criticized Lyons for leading the party in a hard-right and Trumpian direction, which has proven a no-seller in solidly blue Massachusetts — where Trump suffered some of his worst general-election losses. is – and to alienate donors in the process. He also barred the party’s limited resources from being used for his various lawsuits.
In an interview last week in his formal office at the State House, Baker said “it’s important to take stock of where the party is and what happened and what to do about it.”
But Baker, who is turning his attention to his next job as NCAA president, isn’t offering up solutions for how to fix the state GOP. He wants the party’s chair to be “somebody who wants to win elections.” But said he is not planning to endorse anyone for the job.
Baker said, “Parties are expected to win elections, and thus make it possible to govern and hold the other party accountable.” “We’ll see what happens.”
Key players on both sides of the intra-party feud say the next party chair must first reunite its moderate and hard-right factions before they can win the election.
Lyons still has not officially said he is running for a third term as president, although he is widely expected to. He would face more moderate rivals – his vice president, Jay Fleetman; State Committee member Amy Carnevale; former Republican town committee chairman John Featherston and adviser Christopher Lyon — who are sounding the alarm about the party’s future if it can’t appeal across party lines again.
Carnevale, a Baker-Trump voter who lost his bid to represent the state on the RNC, is considered Lyons’ main competition and, therefore, a new target in his legal battle. She has amassed a coalition of big-name Republicans she says is willing to work with them to recruit candidates and bring back donors, including former Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson, a former GOP U.S. Senate candidate. Has betrayed the party under candidates Beth Lindstrom and Leon. Polito, outgoing Lt. Gov.
Yet while she has thrown her endorsement among Baker’s world, Carnevale said she is not seeking her endorsement for the party’s chair.
“Governor Baker is no longer in office. And focusing on him or the people who support him is not helping our party and our candidates,” she said in an interview. “We just need to move on and start a new chapter. need to start. We need to change the dynamics of how we think about partying.
Amanda Orlando, Diehl’s campaign manager and a state committee member affiliated with Lyons, is also hoping a post-Baker reset includes greater outreach to independents who make up more than 60 percent of the state’s electorate. But for him, it means letting Lyons progress “without constant interference” from its opponents.
“The Democrats will get behind a candidate. They don’t live at home. They don’t get angry and take their toys out of the sandbox. They accept that a primary happens and someone wins and that is what they get behind,” Orlando said. “Unfortunately, we don’t.”
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