They're fresh off their biggest electoral victory in years. But when Massachusetts Republicans got together this week for their regular state committee meeting, they dwelt on the losses of last month's election, voting to scold former governor William F. Weld for endorsing a Democrat.
The members of the Massachusetts Republican State Committee voted 35 to 18 to condemn endorsements of Democrats by Republicans and name-checked their former standard-bearer for his violation. Weld endorsed Democrat Michael Day in the contest for a vacant House seat representing Stoneham and Winchester, narrowly edging out Republican Caroline Colarusso.
The Republicans also called out former party chairman Brian Cresta for his across-the-aisle endorsement of state Representative Theodore Speliotis, a Democrat who edged out Republican Tom Lyons.
The move comes at a time when Weld is resuming a leading role in Massachusetts. Charlie Baker, the Republican who just won the race for governor, was Weld's political protege. He has named several fellow former Weld-era officials to his own cabinet. And the Globe reported on Thursday that Weld recently registered as a lobbyist for ML Strategies, the government relations arm of the giant Boston law firm Mintz Levin.
But to disgruntled conservatives, the former governor has betrayed them. The resolution expresses "deep disappointment in the poor judgment exercised by any Republican official who supported any candidate other than the Republican candidates during the past election cycle."
"We are a political party — not a garden party," said state committeeman Steve Aylward, whose resolution called the endorsements contributing factors in the Republican losses. Republicans may have reclaimed the governor's office but remain dramatically outnumbered on Beacon Hill, and some blame their own for breaking ranks, he noted.
"We picked up only six seats in a year that could have been a really good Republican year," said Aylward. "We should have picked up eight."
The resolution, however, was so watered down during debate and amendments Wednesday that some of its original proponents ended up voting against it.
"It didn't go far enough to censure these prominent Republicans," said one such member, Rob Cappucci, who said the measure had lost its bite.
Originally, they noted, they'd hoped for a full censure. Earlier this week, the Watertown Republican Committee had issued a statement urging the state GOP to strip Weld of the prestigious "Lincoln-Reagan Award" he recently won for outstanding service to the Commonwealth and to deny him future speaking engagements at Republican functions. (Weld had a featured role at last spring's convention.) He also should "never be given any support by the MA-GOP in any future election," the Watertown Republicans wrote.
"This guy is a traitor," said one disgruntled Republican, John DiMascio, who faulted the party establishment for showcasing Weld, despite his support for Democrats. "You don't turn around and take someone who endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 and further make him a celebrity in the state."
DiMascio, chairman of the Watertown Republican Town Committee, is not a member of the state committee and did not vote Wednesday night.
A party spokeswoman, Emmalee Kalmbach, would not comment on the matter or make chairwoman Kirsten Hughes available for comment. Tim Buckley, a Baker spokesman, also would not comment on Baker's behalf. Weld could not immediately be reached for comment.