MassGOP Is Heading to Early Convention This Weekend

There's very little at stake.

On Saturday, the Massachusetts Republican Party holds its nominating convention at Boston University’s Agganis Arena. The only real practical matter at stake is whether conservative gubernatorial candidate Mark Fisher can pick up 15 percent of the delegate vote to earn the right to be ignored by presumptive nominee Charlie Baker for the next five months or so. (As found out, political insiders don’t expect to see too many Republican gains in Massachusetts this year.)

More importantly, Baker and the party leaders would like to get a couple of decent clips of Baker’s speech, and perhaps of his running-mate Karyn Polito, on the local news, without a side story about rabid conservatives stirring up trouble over his apostate views. Four years ago, that’s what happened with Baker’s seeming capitulation to delegates on transgender-rights legislation.

The convention seems designed to avoid that sort of outcome, whether by intention or chance. It is taking place very early in the campaign cycle—before statewide candidates even have to turn in nominating signatures—and right in Boston, decisions that should discourage far-flung Tea Partiers from bothering to show up. Competition for statewide offices is mostly non-existent, further reducing the incentive to make the drive and book a hotel room. As a result, attendees should skew more to the pearl-clutching tea-drinkers of Chestnut Hill, with fewer of the sign-wielding Dittoheads from the rural stretches and South Shore.

Saturday will also be the coming-out party for the rest of the MassGOP statewide ticket, who are currently notable only for their anonymity. I suspect that even state Republicans would have trouble picking them out of a lineup at this point. Their candidate for Attorney General is John Miller; Mike Heffernan is their Treasurer candidate; they have David D’Arcangelo for Secretary of the Commonwealth; and Patricia Saint Aubin is running for Auditor.