Peter Blute, the former Massachusetts congressman who left public service after a scandalous booze cruise, has returned to politics as deputy chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party.
He said it was time to come back after a radio career in which he spent seven years at WRKO-AM and five more at WCRN-AM.
“I had done that and enjoyed that and had a lot of listeners, but I thought it was time to get back into the political realm,’’ Blute said yesterday during a phone interview with the Globe. “I am a committed Republican and want to see Republicans succeed - including Scott Brown.’’
Blute was appointed to his unpaid post by Robert Maginn, who was picked as the state GOP’s new chairman Nov. 30. He will help with candidate recruitment, party messaging, and media appearances.
“I was thinking of running for chairman myself, but we talked and decided to join forces,’’ Blute said of Maginn.
The new chairman had the backing of Senator Scott Brown and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Brown faces a contentious reelection campaign next year, while Romney is vying for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
The Romney and Brown campaigns are expected to heighten the national profile of state GOP leaders.
Maginn said in a statement: “Peter Blute has been a trailblazer for Republicans in Massachusetts, and he has a large talk-radio following. I look forward to working with him to restore a healthy two-party system, which is the surest way to guarantee new job creation in our state.’’
Blute, a Worcester native, first served as a state representative from 1986 until 1993. In November 1992, he and fellow Republican Peter Torkildsen were elected to the US House of Representatives the same day Democrat Bill Clinton was elected president.
Torkildsen and Blute each served two terms, the lone Republicans in an otherwise Democratic delegation. Both were swept out of office as Clinton swamped Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole for reelection in 1996.
In 1997, Blute started as executive director of the Massachusetts Port Authority, a tenure cut short in 1999, when he took a workday boat cruise on Boston Harbor with a female passenger — actress Gidget Churchill — who flashed her breasts at a Boston Herald photographer who had been alerted to the voyage.
The next day’s headline blared: “Booze Cruise.’’
Subsequent reporting suggested Blute had been set up with the media by opponents, despite his questionable judgment in taking the cruise.
“If you read the investigative stories . . . there was an organized effort against me because I didn’t hire a particular security firm’’ at Massport, Blute told the Globe yesterday. “Most people understand it was under dubious circumstances at best.’’
Blute, 55, lives in Shrewsbury with his wife, Robbie, and two teenage sons. He is an adjunct professor in Government at Anna Maria College in Paxton.
The new deputy said he is excited to be working with Maginn, a Belmont software executive.
Maginn said he wants to target young people with social media and also hopes to add balance to the state’s representation in Washington, in which Brown currently serves as the only Republican member.
Democrat Elizabeth Warren is gearing up to challenge him next year.
“I want to see Scott Brown reelected,’’ said Blute. “It’s good for us to have a voice in the other caucus.’’
He pointed to work he and Torkildsen did in Congress to secure funding for the cleanup of Boston Harbor.
“That wouldn’t have happened if we were totally shut out [of the delegation], because at the time the Republicans were in charge of the chairmanships,’’ he said. “We need more balance here. Our equilibrium is off.’’
As to whether he personally is interested in public office again, Blute did not rule it out.
“I’ve kind of done that,’’ he said. “I’m not thinking of that right now. What I’m thinking of is a little more balance.’’Glen Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.