SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

March 28, 2014

Benton: GOP's greatest foes are Republicans

Democrats seeking to maintain their stranglehold on Massachusetts politics have a potent ally in the right wing of the Republican Party.

Given the state’s liberal bent, Republican candidates can be conservative on fiscal matters but must maintain a more moderate stance on social issues like abortion and marriage equality in order to succeed here. This is not Arizona or North Carolina, after all, where the wackier elements of the Grand Old Party can sometimes prevail even in general elections.

Two Republicans who can win in 2014 — Swampscott’s Charlie Baker and Wakefield’s Richard Tisei — face opposition within their own party that must delight the Democrats running for governor and incumbent U.S. Rep. John Tierney, D-Salem, respectively.

Baker won the overwhelming endorsement of the party’s convention in Boston last weekend. But his hopes of being able to conserve finances and energy before the September primary are now in jeopardy as a result of a legal challenge by an obscure tea partier who, according to the official tally, fell six votes short of gaining the 15 percent of delegates needed to compete for the GOP nomination.

Meanwhile, Tisei opted to stay away from that convention due to a plank in the official platform opposing gay marriage. The former legislator and candidate for lieutenant governor is gay and married. He said he didn’t need to be nominated and, thus, chose not to attend.

But he doesn’t begrudge Baker and others for participating, stating in a telephone interview this week: “Charlie is the best hope for the party, without a doubt.”

As for challenger Mark Fisher, the Shrewsbury businessman who is threatening to sue to win a place on the Republican gubernatorial ballot this fall, Tisei observed, “It wasn’t like they were neck-and-neck.” According to the results released by the Republican State Committee, Fisher received 374 votes to Baker’s 2,095.

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