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.