How Mark Fisher Went from Tea Party Crusader to Dr. Evil

The Mass GOP accused the candidate of demanding $1 million to go away.

Mark Fisher

Associated Press

When the state Republican Party accused gubernatorial candidate Mark Fisher of asking for $1 million to drop his bid to get on the primary ballot, the nerdy segment of Twitter that was undistracted by sports had a field day. And with good reason. It didn’t just evoke the negotiating tactics of Dr. Evil—if things went down the way the Massachusetts GOP says they did, the story will make a really good example of a really bad idea.

Fisher is suing the state Republican Party after the March nominating convention, in which party leaders said the Tea Party candidate fell just short of the 15 percent threshold he’d need to challenge Charlie Baker for the Republican nomination. Fisher said the party bosses broke rules by counting several blank ballots in order to keep him below the 15 percent line and hand the nomination to Baker. The whole snafu was not great news for Baker, who wanted to exit the convention as the strong nominee of a united party but instead faced not just a primary challenge but a challenge over whether he would face a primary challenge. A united Republican party looked a long way off.  Plus, given the Tea Party’s take-back-the-government attitude, the accusation that their man was being forced out by the smoke-filled room of party bosses threatened to make him look awfully sympathetic. Then the Boston Globe published a story in which the GOP’s lawyer, Louis M. Ciavarra said Fisher’s lawyer, Thomas M. Harvey, had asked for $1 million to drop the lawsuit and essentially hand Baker an uncontested nomination. Fisher’s lawyer has responded that yes, he had asked for $1 million as a starting point in negotiations because the candidate has “put out a lot into this” and should be compensated. The GOP seems to have outmaneuvered Fisher by going public with this, for it shifts Fisher from a crusader against the forces of party cronyism to an extortionist. That means that just by demanding money to go away, he’s lowering the price the Republican Party needs to pay to get rid of him. (His lawyer says it now stands at $650,000 but that’s negotiable, the Globe reports.) Fisher promises a press conference for this Thursday to address his plans for the race, and with the strange-scale of this story set to high, it promises to be interesting. But for now, its looking like a classically bad idea in what was always a real long-shot for the Republican nomination to be the next governor.