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State employee accuses Baker team of strong-arm tactics

Boss Tweed, Boss Baker — whoever thought the twain would meet?

But here we have Governor Charlie Baker and his political crew facing accusations of Tammany Hall tactics, twisting arms, using the powers of his office to corral patronage hires to line up behind him in an increasingly nasty intra-party power-struggle.

In an email obtained by the Globe, Lisa Barstow, a Baker administration hire who is also a state committeewoman and veteran conservative activist, expressing anguish over what she described as pressure from Baker’s political team to back a candidate for an open seat on the Republican State Committee.

“The HARD ANVIL of the corner office came down on me last week with vengeance and NO MERCY ... and WITH FORCE ... made me endorse Peter Lorenz,’’ Barstow, who was recently appointed to be director of community relations at the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, wrote in a Feb. 3 email circulating among her friends in GOP circles. “This is a sickening state for me.”

Lorenz, of Brookline, is a candidate for the state committee in the First Middlesex and Norfolk Senate district. The conservatives, meanwhile, are backing Tom Mountain of Newton, in the three-way fight for an open seat.


Baker aides, however, were unequivocal in their denial of any such pressure exerted. They said no one from his staff contacted Barstow and twisted her arm.

“It’s absolutely not true,’’ said Jim Conroy, a chief political adviser to Baker. “It is exactly opposite to the way we operated.”

Still, something was upsetting Barstow.

“I won’t even begin to tell you the HELL I have been put through and the expectations put on me with and about Lorenz,’’ she wrote. “The hell I am paying now by endorsing is NOTHING to compare with what I would get as punishment for NOT doing so. ... The torture to say no to endorsing Lorenz surely would put me in the hospital from stress. ... I know my body and the chronic stomach illnesses I’ve already been dealing with for years.”


Baker’s venture into this nasty battle with the conservative wing of his party is sure adding a new dimension to his profile. He is showing he has more tools in his box than just, as he says, “blocking and tackling’’ state government.

Frank Phillips can be reached at phillips@globe.com.