Opinion

mark pothier | decoder

Democrat Seth Moulton criticizes Republican Charlie Baker, and it’s news

TRANSLATION: US Representative Seth Moulton’s rebuttal of Governor Charlie Baker’s post-Paris comment that he’s “not interested in accepting refugees from Syria” was, on the surface, a clash over a charged issue. But the Democratic congressman’s tweet on Monday — followed by sparring between the two — also may have signaled that the Republican governor’s political honeymoon is finally ending, at least as far as Moulton is concerned.

Baker has, as they say, “enjoyed” sky-high approval ratings during his first year in office. Hardly a negative word was uttered about him at the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s convention in September. Even the governor’s most public misstep — telling WGBH radio’s Jim Braude in June that flying the Confederate flag was “sort of tradition” in South Carolina — didn’t leave a mark, thanks to a same-day apology.

For Moulton, taking on the popular governor sets the freshman representative apart from his more experienced Democratic colleagues in the state’s congressional delegation. Most of them talked this week about balancing compassion for refugees with the need for a thorough vetting process. None criticized Baker, and Stephen Lynch actually sided with him.

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Realistically, Baker will likely be left unscathed by the clash — many people, including the majority of governors, also are wary of allowing Syrian refugees into their states. Still, it looks like the gloves are (slowly) coming off.

— MARK POTHIER