As Americans look toward new political beginnings in 2017, some with trepidation others with exuberance, this much is clear: Massachusetts Republicans are in serious need of new leadership.
Specifically, by ignoring enthusiasm from within its own ranks for the candidacy of Donald Trump, the Massachusetts Republican Party missed the boat and, as a result, performed miserably — especially when compared with other states — on Election Day. Instead, the party clings to its old leaders, who were propelled to the fore after Scott Brown’s victory over Martha Coakley for the US Senate. That victory has long passed, and conjures all the appeal to rank-and-file Massachusetts Republican voters as flat Champagne on New Year’s Day, and the accompanying hangover.
As a delegate to the Republican National Convention, I personally witnessed the state party leadership’s contempt for the Trump supporters in the delegation. Our suggestions for working with the assembled Massachusetts media went unheeded. Our desire to be heard by our state chair was met with cold indifference. State party chairwoman Kirsten Hughes, like many of the elites, missed Trump’s appeal and a chance to grow the party. Speaking to The Boston Globe about Trump delegates in a front-page story about the Republican convention, Hughes opined, “This is the first time I’ve laid eyes on them, so I don’t know what motivates them.”
Trump’s voters were not voting for small government. (Though they will get it.) Trump’s voters were voting for a candidate who vowed accountability to the voters on numerous issues like sovereignty, ethics, VA reform, trade, security, and illegal immigration. Many Massachusetts Republicans would like that same accountability in state government. Many Massachusetts Independent and Democratic voters would appreciate the accountability that comes with a healthy two-party state.
On Nov. 9, jubilance for President-elect Trump was tempered by knowing that our state party is governed by cuckolds to Democratic dominance. Many Massachusetts Republicans experienced extreme disappointment when they saw the November gains made by virtually every other state Republican Party. That’s because our state party refuses to do the hard work that makes winning possible. State Republicans mounted many successful legislative election bids in Illinois, Connecticut, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Maine.
Connecticut is arguably a bluer state than Massachusetts. The Connecticut Mirror reported that Republicans “made stunning gains in state legislative races” in November by tying Democrats in the Senate and growing their numbers in the House. Connecticut Democrats now hold their smallest House majority in three decades. Meanwhile, Massachusetts Republican representation has stagnated, with 34 House members and six senators. The party has failed to recruit legislative candidates and build up local Republican town committees.
In late January, the party will meet to choose a new chair. The political health of the state dictates that a new leader be elected to helm the state Republican Party. John Adams, the author of our state constitution, warned, “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” Hughes’s tenure has been a slow-motion suicide of the state Republican Party. Massachusetts, and public policy debate in Massachusetts, is poorer because of her.
Louis L. Murray was an elected delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention.