Arthur Schaper: How the GOP Can Run for Congress (and Win) in MA
Friday, November 01, 2013
How to Win as a Republican in MA
What does a Republican, or a conservative, or frankly anyone who believes that less state power is better have to do to win an election in Massachusetts?
First of all, run as a Republican, and have no qualms about doing it. Gabriel Gomez failed this test, miserably. "I was for, but I am also against, and I plan to make my party very mad in Washington", basically sums up Gomez' not so outgoing campaign. (He also liked Obama -- boo!) Be liberal on some issues, but be conservative, and consistently so, on financial matters.
I also think of the two Peters, of course, Blute and Torkildsen. They served in Congress for four years, even when Republicans were hurting in 1992 and then did very well in 1994. They stuck to their principles, even though the national conference fell into a tug-o-war with President Bill Clinton about spending and then welfare reform. It pays to stay true to your state and your constituency above all else. Chris Shays (R-Connecticut) outlasted the 2006 shellacking because he remembered to stay close to home (he ultimately lost in 2008, though)
There must be some happier examples to extract better lessons from.
Republicans have held the corner office on Beacon Hill for sixteen years. Leave it to the right candidate to clean up (or at least, stave off) Democratic micromanaging. A conservative will always serve better as the adult with an unruly, childish legislature. In California, we tried that with Arnold Schwarz-a-house-keeper, and the house of cards fell in 2010. Terminated!
But back to Massachusetts.
State senator Scott Brown (R-Wrentham) ran for the US Senate seat in an off-election year when the Democratic Party and particularly President Obama were unpopular. Obamacare was the one thing that Massachusetts voters did not care for (and then there were all those Boston Red Sox mix-ups with Attorney General Martha Coakley).
Republicans can win campaigning on the one issue that makes people red with rage.
But I don't want to wait for the off-year, either.
State legislator Ryan Fattman of Sutton knocked on thousands of doors and outlasted the outlandish outspending of his Democratic rivals, and won, even in 2012.
It's about knowing the candidate who knows a lot of people, and not just whether the candidate knows a lot.
Go Local Worcester profiled Fattman, and hopefully his example can fatten Republican ranks in Beacon Hill. All politics is indeed local, and it was a Boston pol who coined that currency (Tip O'Neill, if you didn't know that already) For the record, Republicans in the South Bay of Los Angeles are embracing the same grassroots tactics. Instead of focusing on larger issues and bigger races (President, Senate), we are getting the right people into our school boards and city councils, then prepping them for bigger runs in the future.
Can a Republican Win the MA-5 Race?
Having looked over the examples, are there Bay State races in play for Congress?
Ed Markey's Fifth Congressional District is up for grabs, since he joined the US Senate this past June (no one missed him). Republican Frank Addivinola will challenge Democrat Katherine Clark (Carl Sciortino resorted back to his closet) in a special election on December 5th.
How do the statistics stack up for MA-5? A Boston suburb, mostly white, upper middle class, and heavily Democratic. So much so, that since 2000, the Democratic incumbent ran unchallenged three times. For Republicans, so far not so good.
What about the Republican running, though?
Frank Addivinola is a busy guy: lawyer, publisher, college instructor. Well-rounded, to say the least. He has made the rounds in his Congressional District? He better if he plans on winning.
What does he stand for? Less government, lower taxes, individual liberty. Good enough for me.
The special election takes place December 10. A low voter turnout may turn out for the best for Addivinola. Two statewide issues have put the Democratic hypermajority on alert (or three?): the everything computer tax, which Beacon Hill repealed after massive pressure from businesses; the forever gas tax, which has galvanized Republicans across the state, with support from the Mass GOP; and why did "Mister Governor" Deval Patrick have to introduce price controls on health care? State-run medicine has created runaway costs, and personnel running away, too. Obamacare can't be helping. How many voters still have health insurance in Massachusetts? The issue worked for Brown in 2010. Can it help Addivinola in 2013?
Consider also that Richard Tisei might be taking on seven-term John Tierney (whose wife is serving a prison term of seven years). Sometimes, running against the worst candidate can help a Republican, too!
Running at the right time, on the right principles, and making the case to as many as people as one can, Republicans can start picking up Congressional seats once again in Massachusetts.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at email@example.com, and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.
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