A small confession: When I heard some guy named Mark Fisher was going to try to take on Charlie Baker, my first thought was, “Marisa DeFranco.” You may remember the 2012 Democratic Senate primary, when we thought we had cleared the field for Elizabeth Warren. Then up popped DeFranco, who refused to get the message and, with every media outlet singing her praises, actually started to believe she had some traction. No way. Convention day arrived and — boom! — the poor woman never saw it coming.
We took a huge hit for it, though, with Republicans and others hammering us for strong-arming the race and being undemocratic. And so as I watched you beginning to mount a campaign, I started to think a little turn-about might be a good thing. A quick jab from you to their holier-han-thou ribs, if you will.
But Mark, truly, you’ve exceeded my wildest expectations. Jab in the ribs? How about a full-on thrashing?
We knew, naturally, that when the Republicans held their convention in March they wouldn’t let you on the ballot. Still, we here at MassDems were pulling for you. Imagine if he got on, we thought. Rather than attacking us for the next six months, Charlie would be defending his flanks. And we need him to be distracted. After all, we have our own ridiculous primary. Sure, it’ll be easy enough for us to apply our DeFranco playbook to Joe Avellone, Don Berwick, and Juliette Kayyem, but Steve Grossman has enough juice that he’ll probably get on the ballot. Seriously, Mark, why can’t these people just fall in line and take their turns?
But I digress.
So you lost, a fraction short of the magic 15 percent. Oh well, we thought, nice try.
But instead of rolling over, you sued! You claimed the Republican Party had secretly conspired to keep you off the ballot (and let me assure you, as one who’s done it on the other side of the aisle: they had). You began to subpoena documents! You got the party so freaked out about this that they caved, agreeing to let you on the ballot anyway — which you then refused! Instead — and this was brilliant — you told them you wanted a million dollars for your efforts! You even Richard Nixon-ed Charlie Baker, asking ominously, “What did Charlie Baker know and when did he know it?”
This is great stuff, Mark. Internal squabbles, backroom dealings, the stink of corruption, and Baker looking like he’s lost control. I mean, if Charlie can’t ride herd over a bunch of elephants, how can he expect to manage a zoo like Massachusetts?
In any event, thanks to last week’s ruling by a Superior Court judge, it now appears you’re on the ballot and you’re still able to go after the Republicans for money and those secret papers. While you’re at it, here are a few suggestions for other things you might want to push in Charlie’s face.
First of all, hammer him on the Big Dig. I know, all he did was help figure out the financing for what was, in truth, a Democratic project. But people only seem to get mad at the guy who hands them the bill — and that was Baker. Second, when Charlie ran last time around, he tried to go right-wing on us, growling angrily about spending, welfare, and immigrants. Now he’s just playing Mr. Nice Guy. Push him on this, Mark! Show voters his true-red stripes. And finally, keep talking about this Tea Party thing. Remind everyone that this is what today’s Republican Party is all about. Don’t let Baker get away with this big-tent, middle-of-the-road nonsense.
Thanks to you, Mark, I think it’s a lock for us this November. And please know how much we appreciate your efforts. Perhaps your manufacturing business might need a loan or some state contracts? Just drop us a line. Or maybe you’ve got a few shiftless family members looking for gainful employment? We can help. Not Probation, of course (ha!), but there are still lots of state agencies where the number one job qualification is that we just give the word.
Meanwhile, here’s hoping you make Charlie’s summer the hottest he’s ever had!
With much gratitude,
Your friends at MassDems
Tom Keane can be reached at email@example.com.