Sandy Tennant, once considered the colorful bad boy of the state GOP, is back at the table — at least to help a longtime friend raise money for her campaign to oust US Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Tennant, whom Governor Charlie Baker once removed as a fund raiser because of his raffish reputation, is hosting a fund raising event for Beth Lindstrom at his Swampscott home Wednesday night.
Tennant said his support for Lindstrom stems from their years-long working relationship in party politics. He said his support is based both on their friendship and his belief that she is the candidate in the race with the best shot in beating Warren.
In 2009, as Baker ramped up his first-but-failed gubernatorial candidacy, his campaign faced questions about Tennant’s role in raising money for him. Baker’s campaign pushed back at first, saying they had no intention of removing him. A week later — after the Globe reported on it — Baker had second thoughts, and Tennant was cut loose.
Lindstrom, who worked with Tennant when he was executive director of the state Republican Party in the early 1990s, has no intention of doing that, her aide said, despite the rustle among some of the Tennant critics who saw the invitation to the fund raiser.
“Beth and Sandy are old friends, and she appreciates his support,’’ said Lindstrom’s spokesperson, Gail Gitcho.
Tennant’s role in the infamous 1999 “Booze Cruise” scandal cemented his reputation as the chief rascal of that decade’s GOP. He and Peter Blute, then the Massachusetts Port Authority executive director and a former congressman, arranged, at public expense, a summer harbor cruise that resulted in news photos of a woman exposing herself and of a motley Tennant and Blute walking along the gang plank.
In an interview this week, Tennant — who said he’s mellowed with age — questioned the motivations of his critics.
“When is it to some people’s political advantage to talk about a boat cruise versus helping Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci to be elected governor and lieutenant governor and for the Republicans to get a veto-proof Senate?’’ he said, referring to the 1990 elections.
But like it or not, the “Booze Cruise” incident is a central piece to his political profile. The scandal, one of the juiciest in modern state politics, rocked the Cellucci administration.
After all these years, details on how the Boston Herald photographer was alerted about the boat trip remain unclear.
But some, including Blute, are convinced there was a conspiracy at the top levels of Republican-controlled state government to remove him from office. “A coup d’etat,’’ is the way he explains it.
If it were, it worked perfectly. Blute’s resignation came the day after the cruise, and Tennant several days later entered rehab.