Why Charlie Baker Should Threaten to Pull a U-Turn

It's one way to solve his dilemma with the Massachusetts Republican Party.

Frank Phillips reports in the Globe a piece of what’s been obviously coming: yet another takeover attempt by the discontented faction of the Massachusetts Republican Party. The twist this time, of course, is that the party has a Governor-elect for the first time since 2002, and Charlie Baker doesn’t want to brook any nonsense from the state GOP.

You can understand his dilemma. The party he belongs to is his Achilles heel, and any brash behavior by a party chair, national committee member, or minority leader in the house or senate, will be used against him as evidence that he’s part of the Crazy Party. So, he wants to make sure that the people in those positions are allies of his, and are prepared to temper not only their ideologies but also their tactics. Minority leader Brad Jones is better for Charlie than minority leader Shauna O’Connell, is what I’m saying.

On the other hand, if he plays a heavy hand in controlling the state party’s decisions and direction, he becomes that much more directly tied to its actions. So, he’d better win those battles cleanly.

Which is why I have this suggestion for Baker: threaten to pull a U-ey.

Go get yourself a voter registration card. Fill it out to change your party to designation to “U” for unenrolled. Carry that card with you and show it to the committee members and GOP legislators who are tempted to join the rebellion. Take a pen in hand and ask them to give you the one excuse you need to leave the party and guarantee yourself re-election in 2018.

If you make the threat though, Charlie, be prepared to follow through. Some of those diehards would opt to be big fish in a shrinking pond. Many will even convince themselves that the party would thrive by jettisoning its electorally successful moderate Governor.

And sure, you might offend some of those people who spent a gazillion dollars on you via the Republican Governors Association. But that was all completely independent, uncoordinated activity, so you can’t possibly feel obligated to them for anything. Right? Isn’t that how it works?

Anyway, that’s my advice. Threaten a U-turn. You have, almost literally, nothing to lose.