Haley Barbour and the Republican Governors Association are making waves in Massachusetts. Last spring, Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates Tim Cahill (I), Charlie Baker (R), and Deval Patrick (D) had similar poll numbers and some polls had Cahill leading Baker by a slim margin.
Then we witnessed the power of a million dollars.
The RGA dropped a cool million in Massachusetts this summer. Oddly, they didn’t use the money to support Baker or attack Patrick. They used the money on a series of searing attacks against Cahill and his poll numbers plummeted precipitously.
I understand the logic. Both Baker and Cahill are fighting for the same voters. Baker needs Cahill supporters to beat Patrick. A viable Cahill splits the center-right vote and almost ensures a Patrick victory. Baker must bury Cahill and he must do it quickly.
But here's the problem; Baker is a quintessential liberal Republican. Not a moderate Republican, but a liberal Republican in the William Weld mold. During a recent interview with the Boston Globe, Baker expressed frustration that people didn’t appreciate the fact that he is "to the left" of Obama on social issues. When asked to clarify, he said the question was asked in the context of gay marriage, but stood by his statement.
Baker is not a 'status quo' social moderate like many Blue state Republicans, but a thumb in the eye social liberal. For example, he made no attempt to reach out to conservatives with his pick for lieutenent governor. Most conservatives expected an olive branch to balance the ticket. But Baker picked another liberal Republican, Richard Tisei, a man who strongly supports the transgender rights bill, which would allow grown men dolled up as women to use ladies restrooms, even ones in public schools. Its a radical position.
Baker’s campaign is not without merit. He has a theme; taxes, spending and jobs. In this climate, his message is resonating. Baker is smart and competent and has shown a willingness to take on unions and state government.
But Baker, a health care executive, was AWOL during the health care debate, while Cahill gained national prominence for attacking the bill. Cahill has strongly defended Jan Brewer and has taken a tough stance against illegal immigration. Baker has been tepid. I met Cahill while he was working the crowd at the Boston Tea Party. Baker skipped the event.
I have many questions about Cahill as well. Cahill, a former Democrat, supposedly left the party because it became too liberal. I wonder if his conversion is sincere or a matter of convenience. He may be riding the Tea Party tide, but he is not a conservative. He remains attached to the same unions that have bled Massachusetts dry. And he remains quite liberal on a number of issues.
For the record, I don’t know who I will support. I’m on the fence.
I write this only because the RGA has initiated a second round of attacks in Massachusetts. I don’t know how much they are spending this time, but at least they are attacking Patrick along with Cahill. I still have to wonder though, is dumping millions of RGA dollars on behalf of Charlie Baker really what donors expect?