The Massachusetts GOP Can’t Get Out of Its Own Way

Why the state's Republican Party is a lot like pro wrestling.

The Massachusetts Republican Party is a lot like professional wrestling. It provides an entertaining display, with crazy characters and wild story lines, which people can tune in and enjoy while pretending that it has anything to do with the reality of, in the one case, determining the best wrestler; and in the other, electing people to office.

The latest stunt comes out via Frank Phillips in the Globe. The state party’s attorney claims that gubernatorial challenger Mark Fisher, suing for primary ballot access after barely missing the 15 percent threshold at the March convention, rejected an offer to put him on the ballot and asked instead for a cool million dollars to drop the lawsuit, stay off the ballot, and go away quietly.

On the one hand, this version of events makes Fisher into the bad guy in the ongoing dispute, rather than the party leaders. On the other hand, it’s not exactly reassuring that Charlie Baker and the state GOP haven’t been able to contain and neutralize a completely irrelevant figure like Fisher.

Instead, they have now potentially given him a platform to do some real damage. I’ll just say this: the party’s allegations—sent directly from the party’s attorney to state committee members, according to Phillips—had better be a pretty accurate and reasonably unvarnished version of what really happened. Fisher is reportedly planning a press conference for Thursday to respond; if he is able to turn the tables, perhaps with emails or letters that appear to contradict the party’s tale, it could super-charge accusations that the party has been deviously trying to take down Fisher by any means necessary.

Meanwhile, the party’s statewide candidates—aside from the Baker-Polito ticket—are looking frankly embarrassing since getting their convention roll-outs in March. Phillips reports that attorney general candidate John Miller is struggling to reach the signature requirement to qualify for the ballot. Auditor candidate Patricia St. Aubin raised all of $14,735 in April, which is a fortune compared with Secretary of State candidate David D’Arcangelo’s $3,343.

By the way, party chair Kirsten Hughes promised at some point that the party would field challengers in all nine congressional districts. I believe they’re up to three.

Then there’s the US Senate race, against Ed Markey. Only two candidates took interest in running for the GOP. One, Frank Addivinola, didn’t speak at the convention (where, you might recall, the party was charging candidates thousands of dollars for the privilege of addressing the delegates) and was ruled ineligible for the official party endorsement, which was thus given without objection to Hopkinton selectman Brian Herr.

Well, the official party-endorsed candidate for US Senate is also in danger of failing to make the ballot, according to Phillips. But Addivinola tells me he has turned in sufficient signatures and is waiting for certification. So, that would be a real kick in the party’s ass if Addivinola is on the ballot but not Herr.

But it wouldn’t be the first time. In fact, it happened the very last time a Democrat was running for re-election to the US Senate in Massachusetts. The state party chose Jim Ogonowski to take on John Kerry in 2008, but when Ogonowski came up short of signatures, Jeff Beatty walked away with the honor.

It’s a shame that the party is recycling storylines like this, but professional wrestling does it too, so why not?