The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Gov. Charlie Baker

There's a lot not to like about running as a Republican in New England. Where do we start?

Let's start with Charlie Baker, the Republican governor of Massachusetts. Though Massachusetts is one of the most Democratic states in the country, Baker remains very popular among the voters. His approval ratings rarely strayed below 60 percent, even in the depths of the COVID-19 crisis. If Baker ran for another term in the 2022 general election, he'd probably win handily, but he has decided not to run. Why?

Because between now and next November, he faces a primary in a Republican Party that has gone haywire. Former President Donald Trump has vowed to take down Baker. (He's already endorsed former state Rep. Geoff Diehl, the only well-known Republican running in the party's primary.) Baker evidently doesn't want to play in the nasty clown show sure to follow.

Baker didn't vote for Trump in 2016 and 2020, leaving that presidential line on the ballot blank. He also called for Trump's removal from office following the violent January 6 attack on the Capitol. These are reasons why Trump cannot abide Baker. They're also reasons why Baker could easily win another term as a Republican governor of Massachusetts.

Actually, Massachusetts has had a long line of moderate Republican leaders, notes Bob Whitcomb, who followed them closely as a reporter for the old Boston Herald Traveler.

The Republican governors — John Volpe, Francis Sargent, Bill Weld, Paul Cellucci, Jane Swift, Mitt Romney (at least as governor), and now Baker — "believed in thoughtful and incremental change (no utopian schemes!) to improve life in their state," Whitcomb told me. "Unlike the increasingly nihilist Trump national GOP, which is not 'conservative' but radical right wing, they believed in working with Democrats to actually get things done rather than spending their time spewing rhetoric."

A significant milestone in the party's New England decline was reached early in 2001, when Sen. Jim Jeffords, a Vermont Republican, objected to then-President George W. Bush's $1.6 trillion tax cuts. He thought them fiscally irresponsible, which they were.

The Bush administration hit back with dark hints that revenge might be taken on Vermont's struggling dairy farmers. Jeffords fled the party and became an independent, caucusing with Democrats. That moved control of the Senate from the Republicans to the Democrats. (You can imagine the threats.)

The rich suburbs in Connecticut's Fairfield County used to be reliably Republican. By 2008, Chris Shays, the moderate who represented them, was the last New England Republican to serve in the House. That year, the 10-term Shays lost to Jim Himes, only the second Democrat to represent the district since 1943. A former Goldman Sachs executive, Himes is nobody's idea of a socialist. He shares the fiscally conservative, socially liberal bent of his electorate, sort of like Shays.

Charlie Baker was also a business guy. One wishes abused Republicans like him would gird their loins and join the Democratic Party. In the process, they could buttress its moderate coalition.

As of last month, Baker had amassed an impressive campaign war chest and polls showed him in "a very strong position to seek reelection," according to his spokesman.

Baker clearly does not want to subject himself to the attentions of the feral Trump and his bitter elves. He and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito put it more diplomatically in their explanation for not running."We want to focus on recovery, not on the grudge matches political campaigns can devolve into," they wrote.

And so, on the prospect of facing a Trumpian pillage of himself and his ability to competently govern, his selling point, Baker decided, no thanks. Who, really, can blame him?

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Donald Trump

Image via Twitter

A year after former President Donald Trump left the White House and Joe Biden was sworn in as president of the United States, Trump continues to have considerable influence in the Republican Party. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a former Trump critic turned Trump sycophant, recently told Fox News that having a “working relationship” with Trump must be a litmus test for anyone in a GOP leadership role in Congress. But an NBC News poll, conducted in January 14-18, 2022, finds that many Republican voters identify as Republicans first and Trump supporters second.

Analyzing that poll in the New York Times on January 21, reporters Leah Askarinam and Blake Hounshell, explain, “Buried in a new survey published today is a fascinating nugget that suggests the Republican Party may not be as devoted to Trump as we’ve long assumed. Roughly every month for the last several years, pollsters for NBC News have asked: ‘Do you consider yourself to be more of a supporter of Donald Trump or more of a supporter of the Republican Party?’ Over most of that time, Republicans have replied that they saw themselves as Trump supporters first.”

Keep reading... Show less

Ivanka Trump, right

Image via @Huffington Post

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s select committee on the January 6, 2021 insurrection moves along, it is examining Ivanka Trump’s actions that day — especially the former White House senior adviser urging her father, then- President Donald Trump, to call off his supporters when the U.S. Capitol Building was under attack. This week, Ivanka Trump’s importance to the committee is examined in a column by liberal Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent and an article by blogger Marcy Wheeler.

Sargent notes that the committee’s “new focus on Ivanka Trump” shows that it “is developing an unexpectedly comprehensive picture of how inextricably linked the violence was to a genuine plot to thwart a legitimately elected government from taking power.”

Keep reading... Show less
x
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}