GOP candidate for Governor Charlie Baker has selected Senator Tisei to be his running mate in next year’s election. Because Massachusetts law does not provide for a ticket until after the primaries, this is largely a symbolic move. However, there are some campaign finance advantages and it is in keeping with past GOP gubernatorial races.
Massachusetts not only has a primary, but also a convention. In order to be placed on the primary ballot, a candidate must receive 15% of the delegates at the convention. And while there will surely be some grumbling from the rightwing, I fully expect Tisei to make it to the primary and eventually win.
Tisei brings 25 years of Beacon Hill experience to the ticket, but also some baggage (at least in the eyes of some of the GOP base). You see, not only is Tisei openly gay, but he has supported same sex marriage in the legislature. Now, some within the GOP are fine with gays, so long as they are either (a) in the closet or (b) at least oppose equal marriage rights. Further, Tisei brings a fairly moderate record to the table. He did not support all of the Romney tax cuts and opposed the ill-fated income tax repeal.
Baker himself is much more in the Weld-Cellucci strain of the MA GOP. He evinces no great conservative leanings. Most would describe Baker as socially moderate to liberal and fiscally conservative, which is in keeping with recent successful GOP gubernatorial candidates (Romney significantly played down his conservatism when running in MA, only to flip-flop when on the national stage).
Next year’s race should be rather entertaining as not only does it feature an unpopular Democratic incumbent, but Baker has a credible opponent in his primary, and Democrat turned Independent State Treasurer Cahill is also running. It’ll be interesting to see where the far right goes. Baker is clearly not one of them, but neither is Mihos except on his fairly insane (and inane) tax and local aid proposals. [Let me detour a bit here- Mihos both wants to slash the sales tax to 3%, from its current 6.25%, AND promises to provide 40% of all state revenues to cities and towns in local aid. So that means subtract the $633 million raised from this year’s sales tax increase plus take away roughly $1.6 billion by reducing the rate from 5% to 3%. That means Mihos would be eliminating over $2 billion in state revenue. Thus, cities and towns get 40% of a much smaller pie and the state would have even less money in a time when it’s already slashing human services budgets.]
It would seem as though Cahill may have some daylight to run a John Silber type of campaign- to the right of the Republican nominee. Silber was not successful, but that was in a two person race against Bill Weld. Weld held most Republicans while picking up Independents and some Democrats.
In my opinion, having Cahill in the race is a boon to Governor Patrick. He splits the anti-incumbent vote with whoever the GOP nominee is, and if it is Baker/Tisei he might also pick off some socially conservative Republicans and Democrats. Regardless, I do not see a role for Cahill aside from spoiler. It’s no wonder Baker’s people were trying to get Cahill to join his ticket as number 2.
A Baker-Patrick mano-a-mano would be a difficult race for Patrick to win. Baker is no wingnut; he has solid experience in managing the state budget and in health care. If this becomes a race decided solely upon experience and capability, Baker wins. Deval Patrick is undoubtedly an intelligent person, but he suffers from two huge problems- the economy and the cuts it has forced in the state budget (and sales tax increase); his ineffectual performance. Patrick has very little to show for nearly three years as Governor. A good portion of that blame lies with the Legislature, but voters do not usually make that sort of fine distinction. Also, even if they did, some may think that a Republican Governor would be more forceful in his dealings with a recalcitrant Beacon Hill establishment.
As I said earlier- this is going to be very interesting.