Charlie Baker Goads Democrats on Hobby Lobby

And the state’s Democrats are none too happy.

Photo via Associated Press

Photo via Associated Press

Let us now take a moment to review the entire history of successful Republican statewide campaigns since the turn of the century.

2002: A successful Catholic woman holding statewide office (Shannon O’Brien) wins the Democratic nomination for governor, and appears to have the advantage over the tall, good-looking non-Catholic Republican man (Mitt Romney) trying to sell himself as a moderate. Then she speaks up against parental notification for 16-year-olds seeking an abortion, and the non-Catholic Republican is able to peel away enough voters in this Catholic-heavy state to win.

2010: A successful Catholic woman statewide officeholder (Martha Coakley) wins the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, and appears to have the advantage over the tall, good-looking, non-Catholic Republican man (Scott Brown) trying to sell himself as a moderate. Then she and the state Democratic Party attack their opponent for supporting the so-called abortion “conscience clause” for hospitals, and the non-Catholic Republican is able to peel away enough voters in this Catholic-heavy state to win.

End of story. For the moment.

Now, I don’t know if any of you see any kind of pattern here that might be repeating itself with Martha Coakley and another tall, good-looking non-Catholic Republican man, Charlie Baker.

And I certainly have no evidence that Baker was deliberately goading the state’s Democrats when (the day after I warned Dems to “be wary of overplaying their hand“) he told some media outlets that the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision doesn’t directly affect Massachusetts, and since that’s what he’s focused on, he isn’t terribly worried about it.

What I do know is that today my inbox is full of outraged Democrats, including all of the gubernatorial candidates, attacking Baker for his comments. I also dialed into a press conference by the party’s coordinated campaign chairman, Ben Downing, with congresswoman Katherine Clark and former gubernatorial candidate Juliette Kayyem, warning that, as Clark put it, “this gives us a real insight into where Charlie Baker’s priorities are.”

I certainly get that Clark and others are genuinely upset about the Hobby Lobby and buffer zone rulings. I also understand their concerns about the future on these issues under Baker compared with a true believer like Coakley, Grossman, or Berwick.

I also realize that Democrats need women—particularly those women most likely to be upset about these rulings—to get riled up enough to come out to vote this November.

But I also know that, in many ways, Massachusetts remains a fairly conservative state, and one in which an awful lot of people—particularly, but not only, Catholics—respond negatively to what they view as steps too far on the abortion front.

I would also point out that Elizabeth Warren ginned up the support of women by emphasizing equal pay and other economic issues, as well as women’s preventive care. Not much on abortion (other than, to my recollection, declaring a pro-choice litmus test on Supreme Court justice votes).

That’s the history Dems should be looking to repeat.

  • armoredsaint

    Thanks David that was Ken Pittman’s interview in which Coakley said “maybe if you’re religious, you shouldn’t work in an emergency room.” to which he replied, OK I will tell that to the emergency staffs at Beth Israel, St. Luke’s, St. Anne’s and NE Baptist hospitals.

  • FrancisMcManus

    The Dem base is pissed about McCullen decision because buffer zone law protected vulnerable women from fanatical anti-choicers and SCOTUS struck it down. Patrick and other leaders will fix it but the Roberts court is not respected as just or prudent. The dem base is also pissed that SCOTUS would confer an unprecedented right on closely held for-profit corporation to privilege the owners to decide if women in their employ get the same health coverage as the women in the rest of the Unites States. It’s all the more galling that the premise was false–4 types of birth control are abortifacients–and that days later, the court announced their decision included *all* forms of contraception. Hobby Lobby is a symbol of the ignorance of the male judiciary to privilege conservative policy goals– Blunt Amendment– and enshrine new rights for corporations, which is yet another flash point.

    Charlie Baker brought that on himself.

  • Rob

    David, causation does not imply correlation. Where’s the evidence to back up your assertions re Coakley and O’Brien? You didn’t link to anything. I remember both races. I definitely don’t think that issue hurt Coakley, it was a minor blip iirc. She lost, imo, due to a combination of her own bad campaigning but mostly the weird exact moment in time of Obamacare, Tea Party, winter special election, etc. But this issue here was a minor thing at best. As for O’Brien, you have a stronger claim here as post-debate O’Brien’s favorables fell and Romney’s went up and Mitt pulled into a lead. But that may have been as much about voters not liking O’Brien overall after her performance and finding that Romney wasn’t the robot they expected, rather than specifically Catholic voters turning on O’Brien. Last point, if anything, recent Massachusetts political races show that the Dems win when the base comes out strong. All that said about Coakley, she still wins if the base comes out that January day. Look at Markey, look at Suzanne Bump, and others.

  • taxman10m

    I was with you until Baker started backpedaling.

    Now I don’t think this was planned by the campaign or that it will unfold like Romney vs O’Brien.

    • Kara

      Back pedaling , or clarifying? Bc doesn’t he say in this article , that he misspoke? As we all do on occasion. Also his comment regarding the HL case wasn’t aloof and dismissive of women’s rights as u and David B. suggest. He didn’t say , Ah I don’t care about women & contraception access. It doesn’t matter ! the way u are trying to spin it. Bc he actually said, ‘it doesn’t matter’, meaning
      that the decision doesn’t matter, bc it won’t affect massachusetts women …I quote from your link: “Baker said the decision would not impact Massachusetts because a state mandate on contraception coverage was still intact.” So there! He doesn’t disregard the situation, he puts it in perspective . Bc he’s right: the state mandate will provide women w birth control options. Just as an aside, I think it’s really interesting, that these are the two main boston magazine headlines, side by side at the top of the page: the first one is about Charlie baker ‘goading’ the dems. And the second,
      about the Salem witch hunt.

  • Matt Szafranski

    I think that David is on to something about going too far on abortion generally, but it depends on where. I don’t see that here…yet

    Elizabeth Warren DID bring up the Blunt Amendment constantly and, in my estimate, to great affect. That was being driven solely as a birth control thing. Hobby Lobby is about birth control and not, as Anthony Kennedy likely saw it and thus joined Alito’s opinion, about abortion. The Buffer Zone is about abortion, but I think it is quite different from the parental notification issue.

    To that end, I think they are on terra firma making a Hobby Lobby an issue, although Baker’s comments are not the best vehicle to do that. I also think it is easy to talk about the Buffer Zone beyond just abortion and therefore avoid the problem to which David alludes.

  • Kara

    Charlie baker is Pro Choice. There, at least I’ll start off my comment, with a headline that is factual. Please enlighten me, David, as to why u would use a charged headline like, ‘Charlie baker goads dems’…then waaaaay down the article, write ‘ I certainly have no evidence that Charlie was deliberately goading…’ Etc. I find that extremely problematic. As a journalist, don’t you? Bc you sound pretty certain to me, writing a headline like that! So exactly what is your intention here? Are u just trying to manipulate people with your unconvincing, wishy washy misinterpretations? Bc frankly, I don’t see Baker’s comments to be anywhere near what your incendiary headline claims them to be. Actually, it is your headline that goads Charlie baker! And taunts. And thoroughly misleads the public. Trust me, I am very upset about the hobby lobby decision, on so many levels. It makes me sick to think about, actually. But I am truly appalled at both you and Boston magazine for publishing such blatantly biased drivel. Just what we need, more divisive partisanship! Thanks for trying to stir up acrimony between the parties , based on your unconvincing, phantom assessments. Btw, Charlie baker…in addition to being pro choice…is also an advocate for gay marriage & rights. His brother is a gay married man, FYI. Baker is also concerned about the environment. He also supports tough gun control laws. Why don’t u focus on those things next time? Or maybe it’s because, the dems would be none too outraged by them. And that’s not the look you’re striving for now, is it? Charlie Baker for Governor!!

    • Tony

      “Charlie Baker is Pro Choice.” and Martha is Pro Choice so the Pro Live fanatics do not have a dog in this fight?
      The rest of the Charlie Baker’s beliefs, that you list, are identical to Martha’s so what is the what is the discriminant factor in voting for the next governor. Deval proved that a buffoon could not derail the ship of state, so why waste your time and money in 2014 wait until 2016 when Cherokee Liz makes a run for the White House.
      BTW My Obama care will not pay for my condoms so I did not have a dog in the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision.

      • Kara

        The distinguishing factor is that deval is a buffoon as u say, he wants to give away the store…coakley & grossman are more of the same. Baker shares their social values in terms if the qualities I described…pro choice, supporter of minimum wage hike, etc. The huge difference is, Charlie would be a fiscally responsible leader, concerned with the taxpayer and massachusetts’ fiscal line. That is the main point. Also w regard to hobby Lobby decision, it affects everyone …in terms of preventing your partner from becoming pregnant . Assume you wouldn’t be too keen, paying child support for unplanned pregnancy ? And also, in terms of a public health issue. It only benefits society to minimize the number of unwanted pregnancies …Btw I am not a Liz warren fan by any means but when u refer to her disparagingly Iike that, it only undermines your argument.

        • Tony

          If you check the 2012 election data, Senator Warren wrapped herself up in the Native American blanket and proudly declared that she was a Cherokee. I would think that the phrase “Cherokee Liz” is an apropo nickname for Senator Warren.
          If you read the decision, the Hobby Lobby insurance plan pays for 16 out 20 contraception methods for women and none for men. So as male I will be responsible and pay for my contraceptives and not whine trying to get a free lunch.

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