Baker claims victory in state committee races

Governor Charlie Baker.


Governor Charlie Baker.

Governor Charlie Baker is claiming victory in a tough fight with Tea Party-leaning conservatives for control of the Massachusetts Republican Party, a battle that threatens to create deep divisions between him and the GOP’s right-leaning bloc.

A source within Baker’s political team who is familiar with the results from Tuesday’s balloting for the Republican State Committee said 51 of 74 candidates endorsed by the governor won or retained seats on the 80-member governing body of the state party.

As the results trickled in Wednesday, conservative leaders seemed resigned to the fact that Baker had successfully put the full force of his political popularity and fund-raising skills behind his campaign to gain tighter control of what has been a committee evenly divided between moderates and conservatives.

If his numbers are correct, those results would be a huge political victory for Baker, who put his political prestige on the line when he waded into an ugly intra-party fight.

“The governor is pleased with last night’s results and grateful to everyone who ran, for their sacrifice and commitment to strengthening the party,’’ Baker’s chief political adviser, Jim Conroy, said Wednesday. “He looks forward to working with the new committee to help elect Republicans up and down the ticket.”

Chanel Prunier, the state’s Republican national committeewoman, noted that while the results indicate the state committee remains divided, “the most important task now is to put the contests behind us and look to the 2016 elections against the Democrats.”

Still, Baker’s gains appear to have come with a price. Some of the conservative activists had gone out on a political limb to back Baker in 2014, providing him with significant inroads into the grass-roots activist wing of the party.

But just a year after Baker took office, many of those same people found themselves targeted by him in the races for state committee.

One candidate who won his race despite Baker’s support for his opponent, expressed frustration with the governor’s team and warned of the backlash the governor may face.

“They started an unnecessary war within their own party, and I fear that that anger will never subside,” said Steven Aylward, who went against some of his colleagues to support Baker’s 2014 candidacy.

“And while they were waging that battle, we were losing two more special elections to the Democrats — the real enemy,’’ he said, noting the GOP losses in contested races for vacant House seats in Fitchburg and Peabody in Tuesday’s elections.

“I think what we have seen here is that while the Baker people might have deep pockets, they have no coattails for the party,” said Aylward.

The last Republican governor to face a revolt from the hard right was Francis W. Sargent, a liberal Republican who fought back a conservative primary challenge in 1974, only to lose the general election to Democrat Michael S. Dukakis.

Baker’s move to bolster his control of the party is key to his continued use of its staff and resources — as well its aggressive fund-raising — for his own political operations. His political advisers, aware that the governor’s moderate image has helped to give him huge standings in the polls, also want to prevent the state GOP from being tagged as a hard-right conservative party.

To finance his campaign on behalf of his candidates for the state committee, Baker raised more than $300,000, the Globe reported last week.

But the identities of those donors and the size of their contributions are impossible for the public to track, because Baker has refused to make that information public — and has no legal obligation to do so, according to state campaign finance regulators, because the money supported candidates who were not running for public office.

His aides say a public disclosure of his donations — which the Globe has reported are as high as $10,000 apiece — would have put them at a disadvantage with the conservatives who also did not disclose their own fund-raising numbers.

At a press gathering last week, Baker continually resisted requests that he make the donations public, repeating several times that “We follow all the rules.”


Source: Early returns show wins for 26 Baker-backed state committee picks

Boston Herald
Matt Stout Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Credit: Angela Rowlings

Gov. Charlie Baker attends the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers Annual Luncheon at the State House, Tuesday, January 26, 2016. Staff photo by Angela Rowlings.

At least half of the  Republican state committee candidates backed by Gov. Charlie Baker won their seats last night, according to a source familiar with early returns in the unusual battle that had pitched the popular governor against the conservative wing of his own party.

As of this morning, Baker’s endorsed candidates had won 26 of 52 head-to-head races and lost 17, with nine still considered too close to call, according to the source.

In a push to remold the Republican state committee, Baker endorsed 74 candidates in the intra-party contests that played out on Super Tuesday. Of those, 52 were in a contested fight for a spot on the 80-member committee, which, among other responsibilities, votes on the party’s platform and helps recruit and back candidates for public office.

There were two other contested races in which Baker did not endorse a pick; neither had final results this morning.
The developments followed weeks of an aggressive endorsement campaign by Baker, including yesterday when he sent out a pair of e-mails — plus another from Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito — urging supporters to hit the polls for his slate of candidates.

“I’ve heard it a lot: the new direction that we’ve brought to Beacon Hill in the last year is a breath of fresh air, and has shown voters what real Republican leadership looks like here in Massachusetts,” one of Baker’s e-mails read. “Today is a critical day for our ability to keep delivering on that change.”

The campaign — for which Baker also actively raised money from unnamed donors — rankled the party’s conservative wing, which ran its own candidates versus Baker’s picks in many of the races.

Baker also drew criticism from some conservatives for backing as many as 17 candidates who also are state employees.

A spokesman for the MassGOP didn’t immediately return a message today.


General Electric Announcement



January 13, 2016

Terry MacCormack

MassGOP Statement On General Electric Announcement

BOSTON — Today, the Baker Administration announced that General Electric plans to move its world headquarters to Boston, a move that will bring hundreds of high-paying jobs and exciting new economic development opportunities to Massachusetts. MassGOP Chairman Kirsten Hughes released the following statement praising the Baker Administration for these developments:

“Governor Baker and his administration have started to build a pro-growth, competitive environment for Massachusetts, and General Electric’s decision to move its world headquarters to Boston is a result of that work. Tax-and-spend Democrats in the Legislature should recognize that the environment of high taxes and heavy regulations created by Connecticut’s Democratic governor is a road to job loss. The Commonwealth is lucky to have a Republican governor who values this kind of innovative business investment that will lead to long-term economic growth.”

General Electric announced today that it plans to move its world headquarters to Massachusetts. “It’s a major victory for Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Martin J. Walsh, whose aides worked closely together for several months to lure GE to a city that has seen many of its biggest companies swallowed up by out-of-town buyers, and a state that has labored hard to shed the ‘Taxachusetts’ label pinned on it during the 1970s. (Jon Chesto, “GE confirms it’s heading to Boston,” Boston Globe, 1/13/16)
General Electric sought to leave Connecticut after repeated tax hikes.“General Electric, one of the world’s largest companies, has dropped a bombshell on its home state of Connecticut: It’s looking to relocate to another state. As part of an attempt to plug a deficit, Connecticut lawmakers decided in June that its corporate citizens weren’t doing their part. So they proposed levying $700 million in new business taxes on them. GE responded by saying it would consider leaving Connecticut.” (Harriet Jones, “General Electric Looks To Leave Connecticut,” WBUR, 10/1/2015)
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“A Nuts and Bolts Mr. Fix-It”

Gov. Baker Praised For Major Reforms, Common-Sense Approach

BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker has “ended up being exactly as Candidate Baker advertised: a nuts-and-bolts Mr. Fix It,” according to a column in today’s Boston Globeby Meredith Warren. Warren’s column praised Governor Baker for achieving fiscally responsible priorities  – like the temporary suspension of the Pacheco Law for the MBTA – despite a Democrat-controlled Legislature that has historically resisted reform.

Year one with Mr. Fix It

By Meredith Warren

IF YOU’RE THE type who got a thrill from Governor Mitt Romney’s rivalry with top Democratic leaders, or who delighted in Governor Deval Patrick’s dramatic rhetoric, then Massachusetts politics in 2015 has been an utter disappointment.

Turns out Governor Charlie Baker ended up being exactly as Candidate Baker advertised: a nuts-and-bolts Mr. Fix It, who doesn’t indulge in partisan fighting and political theatrics.

It seems a majority of Massachusetts voters actually prefer boring to blustery. In a recent poll that gauged support for governors across the United States, Baker earned a 74 percent approval rating from Massachusetts residents, a level of support no other governor could reach.

[Baker, DeLeo, and Rosenbeg] have teamed up several times on initiatives that normally would have been the subject of partisan back-and-forth. Who would have guessed that Baker would convince Democrats to temporarily suspend the Pacheco Law (a law favorable to unions) and set up a control board at the MBTA, much less expand the earned income tax credit, all in his first year?

Baker also does his homework. Instead of offering knee-jerk reactions and quick fixes, he prefers to investigate and consult data to make long-term decisions.

When snow crippled the MBTA last winter, Baker set up a commission to find out what went wrong and make recommendations for how to move forward. He brought together social workers and administrators at the Department of Children and Families to develop a comprehensive plan to correct major failures at the agency.

A more recent case in point: When pressed to allow Syrian refugees into Massachusetts, Baker insisted on pausing to ask questions and gain assurances of safety. Others tried to turn the situation into a political fight, but Baker’s pause to find out details before making a decision fit precisely with his basic approach to governing.

So, for those of us who enjoy political intrigue, we’re going to have to get our fix watching “House of Cards’’ on Netflix. For now, at least, there’s not a lot of high-intensity drama playing out in the halls of Beacon Hill.

But, then again, Netflix doesn’t have a real state to run. Charlie Baker does.

(Click here to read the full column)


FACT SHEET: Dukakis’s Faulty Claim That Patrick Left MA “In Pretty Darn Good Shape”



December 7, 2015


BOSTON — Over the weekend, former Gov. Michael Dukakis sought to downplay the significant problems of Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration and claimed that Patrick left Massachusetts “in pretty darn good shape.” Dukakis’s efforts to mask the deep problems leftover from the Patrick administration are simply not enough: the facts just do not back up his claim.
Patrick’s Disastrous Fiscal Management Left Massachusetts Worse Off
FACT: Patrick left the state budget with a $765 million deficit for fiscal year 2015 that had to be fixed by Governor Baker immediately upon taking office. (Josh Miller, “Baker cites $765 million budget shortfall,” Boston Globe, 1/20/15)

FACT: Patrick also left the state with a $1.8 billion structural deficit, which also had to be fixed by the Baker Administration. (Michael Jonas, “Baker’s budget balance: Governor shows a deft hand for give and take, CommonWealth, 7/17/15)

FACT: Patrick’s poor fiscal management caused Standard and Poor’s to downgrade the Commonwealth’s fiscal outlook last month. S&P specifically cited Patrick’s “previous [rainy day] drawdowns that occurred in [fiscal years] 2013 and 2015,” in their report. (Bruce Mohl, “S&P lowers Mass. outlook to negative,” CommonWealth, 11/23/15)

Patrick’s Disastrous Handling Of The Health Connector Failed The People Of Massachusetts
FACT: Patrick’s disastrous handling of the Health Connector’s changes under ObamaCare forced thousands of families onto MassHealth last year. (Felice Freyer, “About 400,000 in Mass. must seek new health plan,” Boston Globe, 8/15/14)

FACT: Recent reports allege that Patrick’s administration “appear[s] to have lied” to the federal government about the Health Connector’s failures. (Shira Schoenberg, “Pioneer Institute report says Massachusetts Health Connector officials ‘appear to have lied’ to federal government,” Springfield Republican, 5/10/15)

FACT: Patrick tried to blame the media for the Connector’s problems. (Matt Stout, “Deval Patrick blames media for sensationalizing buggy Obamacare site,” Boston Herald, 5/12/15)

The Patrick Administration Spent Taxpayer Money Unwisely, While Gutting Support To Cities And Towns
FACT: The Patrick Administration’s poor handling of the Green Line extension led to ballooning costs revealed this year. “DePaola also pointed to the contracting process being used for the Green Line extension, which the T has not previously used.” (Nicole Dungca, “Green Line extension could cost another $1 billion,” Boston Globe, 8/24/15)

FACT: Patrick’s Administration secretly diverted millions to off-the-books accounts to fund his overseas junkets. (Joe Battenfeld, “Hidden junket funds: How Deval Patrick secretly diverted millions to off-budget accounts,” Boston Herald, 6/10/15)

FACT: Patrick’s out-of-control spending was funded by gutting support for cities and towns, which had to be restored by Governor Baker. 

“Before stepping down, Patrick imposed more than $40 million in cuts that didn’t require legislative approval, including $18.7 million from regional transportation for school busing and $1.2 million from public-run charter school reimbursements. Patrick also asked the Legislature to cut money for cities and towns by more than $25 million in addition to $10 million from the Department of Transportation and $21.8 million from other agencies..”

“But Baker and others have signaled that local aid for cities and towns won’t likely be a target. To the contrary, one of Baker’s first moves as governor was to free up $100 million for local road and bridge projects…” (Christian Wade, “Baker, lawmakers say local aid is safe in face of budget crisis,” CHNI, 1/13/15)

FACT: Patrick’s out-of-control spending was funded by hiking taxes on small business. “When all is said and done, businesses collectively pay at least $150 million more annually in taxes, according to Widmer.” (Shirley Leung, “Governor Deval Patrick’s hits and misses,” Boston Globe, 12/17/15)


Governor Charlie Baker Is The Most Popular Governor In America


November 20, 2015


BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker is the most popular governor in the United States, according to a new nationwide poll. Morning Consult conducted a nationwide survey of voters in all 50 states to assess their attitudes toward their governors. Governor Baker posted a 74% favorability rating, the highest of any governor in the country.
How Do Voters Feel About Your Governor?
Voters take a dim view of just about everything that happens in Washington, D.C., and few believe the country is headed in the right direction. But those same voters have a much better opinion of officials who govern their own states.

A comprehensive survey of more than 75,000 voters in all 50 states, conducted over several months by Morning Consult, shows 34 of the nation’s governors have approval ratings of 50 percent or higher, and 16 governors have approval ratings over 60 percent. Governors in only ten states have higher disapproval ratings than approval ratings, the survey found.

Leading the pack is Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican who won election in 2014. Nearly three quarters, 74 percent, of Massachusetts voters say they approve of the job Baker is doing, while just 14 percent say they disapprove.

Morning Consult surveys conducted between May and November asked 76,569 registered voters in all 50 states whether they approve or disapprove of their governor’s job performance. Voters were asked their opinion of their state’s governor; each state’s sample was weighted based on gender, age, and race, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.

The sample sizes vary by state, from 6,696 registered California voters to 198 voters registered in Wyoming; margins of error vary by sample size. The median sample size was 1,172 respondents.

Explore the data here:

(Read the full article)



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T Union Reverses Course, Promises To Obstruct MBTA Fixes

BOSTON — The union that once pledged on radio spots that it is “here to help. We want to help” in the aftermath of last winter’s crippling storms, is now promising to obstruct efforts to fix the MBTA. The reversal of position from pledging “to help” to pledging to ensure the effort “isn’t going to be easy” comes after the Democratic-controlled legislature passed Governor Charlie Baker’s plan to increase efficiencies at the MBTA and pave the way for more public-private partnerships at the agency.

“For the union to break its promise and now openly obstruct fixing the T after crippling storms left people stranded in the dead of winter is disappointing,” said MassGOP spokesman Terry MacCormack.  “The Governor’s team is adding buses to the busiest of routes so people can get to work. Given the holiday the union plans to celebrate this weekend, they should be joining, not opposing efforts to fix the T.”

During the debate over MBTA reform this summer, the Carmen’s Union ran a major media campaign to improve its image with the public. “It’s been a surprise on the radio airwaves: A series of cheery ads from the Boston Carmen’s Union, Local 589, proclaiming, ‘We’re here to help. We want to help.'” (Scot Lehigh, “Is the Boston Carmen’s Union really here to help?” Boston Globe, 6/12/15)

Now, the union pledges to obstruct reform at every turn. “’We want to tell the governor and the MBTA that this isn’t going to be easy,’ [Boston Carmen’s Union President James O’Brien said].” (Nicole Dungca, “T workers to rally in Boston amid Obama visit,” Boston Globe, 9/4/15)

Globe Editorial Dismisses Unions’ “Phony Charge Against Governor Baker”


Guv Is “Doing What He Said He Would…Baker Deserves Credit”

BOSTON — The Boston Globe‘s editorial board is defending Governor Baker’s common-sense and innovative reforms for the MBTA against entrenched special interest attacks. The Globe editorial from this weekend dismissed over-the-top criticisms from Carmen’s Union President James O’Brien as “phony,” pointing out that the Governor’s plan to leverage private-sector efficiency for some MBTA services amounts to “doing what he said he would.” The paper lauds the plan, asserting, “Baker deserves credit” for serious efforts to reform the agency.

A phony charge against Governor Baker

The Editorial Board

During the recent debate about freeing the MBTA from the Pacheco law, which makes it hard to contract out any services currently performed by state workers, Baker administration officials were asked what they would do if they won such a reprieve. One oft-repeated example was turning little-used late-night bus routes over to private vendors, who would employ smaller buses than the T uses.

Having won a three-year break from Pacheco, the Baker administration is now exploring the possibility of contracting out that service, as well as other low-ridership and express bus routes. That exploration has brought a loud protest from Boston Carmen’s Union President James O’Brien, who calls it “a betrayal.”

“The governor has said ‘No privatization, no cuts in service, no layoffs,’ and here he is, privatizing,” he told the Globe last week. O’Brien bases his comments in part on Baker’s testimony at a legislative hearing, during which the governor said: “We want to fix the T. I do not want to privatize the T. I do not want to slash services. I do not want to lay off hundreds of employees.”

But this hardly constitutes a privatization of the T. And though it may reduce T overtime, it’s not a move intended to result in layoffs at the agency or cuts in service. Rather, the administration says T drivers and buses freed up by contracting out those routes would be reassigned to improve service on higher-demand bus routes.

Asked about his criticism, O’Brien said his understanding was that Baker wanted the Pacheco law suspended so he could more easily fix the transit agency’s infrastructure. Reminded that administration officials actually did talk about contracting out late-night bus service, the union chief noted that there hadn’t been any talk of privatizing express or low-ridership routes. Not specifically, perhaps, but those routes fall into the same kind of category as the lightly used late-night routes; altogether, those three categories account for less than 2.5 percent of the T’s weekly bus rides. O’Brien added that he doesn’t trust the administration’s assertion that the aim behind any such move isn’t to lay off workers but rather to redeploy them to improve core T services.

Whatever his motivation, however, he’s wrong to portray this as some sort of bait-and-switch by the governor, who is simply doing what he said he would. For that, Baker deserves credit — and not an unfair attempt portray him as a double-dealer.

Checking in with MassFiscal

Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance
We support Governor Charlie Baker’s vetoes to the 2015-2016 budget. Each veto was a difficult call. In most cases, the cuts were made to small pet projects, important to a particular legislator.

Ultimately, lawmakers voted to override all of the nearly 100 changes Governor Charlie Baker made.

Because of the volume of override votes compared to the few votes on other issues thus far, we’ve decided to treat them differently than usual on our scorecard. Were we to score each one on an individual basis, the overrides alone would essentially dictate a legislator’s score for the entire year. That doesn’t seem fair, so we’ve aggregated the override votes into a single position.

Mass Fiscal supports voting no on all veto overrides. To determine whether a legislator should receive ayes or no vote on the scorecard, we split up the data in the following way:

  • First, we calculated the number of no votes each legislator took on the overrides
  • All legislators who voted no 0% of the time automatically received a yes vote on the scorecard
  • Next, we took the list of legislators who voted no some of the time
  • From that list we calculated the median number of no votes taken
  • Legislators with a number of no votes above the median received a no vote on the scorecard
  • Legislators with a number of no votes below the median received a yes vote on the scorecard
If you would like to see how your member of the legislature voted on all the veto override votes, please click here. To see our legislative scorecard, on this vote in the House, please click here. For the Senate,please click here.
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Campaign Contributions Adding Up

The Lowell Sun

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo collected more than $415,000 in campaign donations during the first half of the year — more than during any previous six-month period for the powerful Democrat.

The total is close to the $465,000 DeLeo raised during all of 2014, an election year.

The contributions poured in during the first half of 2015 despite the fact that DeLeo won’t face re-election again until next year.

DeLeo’s fundraising prowess dwarfed that of Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, a fellow Democrat who pulled in $264,000 during the same period.

It was easily the strongest fundraising period for Rosenberg, who stepped into the powerful post this year.

DeLeo and Rosenberg are being helped by a new Massachusetts law that allows supporters of state candidates to donate up to $1,000 a year — double the previous $500 annual cap.

DeLeo, for example, received about 70 individual donations of $1,000, according to an Associated Press review of the campaign report.

Those include donations from business executives, attorneys, health care professionals, real estate developers and lobbyists. Among those who gave the maximum is John Fish, president of Suffolk Construction and former chairman of Boston 2024, the group trying to bring the Olympics to Boston.

All told, DeLeo received about 1,550 individual donations between Jan. 1 and June 30.

As speaker, DeLeo is one of the top three most powerful political figures on Beacon Hill — appointing members of legislative committees and having a large say in what bills win approval and which never come up for a vote.

In January, House lawmakers voted to eliminate term limits for House speakers — a change pushed by DeLeo. Under the old rule, DeLeo would have had to step down in 2017.

Rosenberg is in his first year as head of the Senate. Like DeLeo, he’s also benefited from the increase in the maximum donation limit. About 45 supporters made individual donations of $1,000 to Rosenberg in the first half of the year.

They also include attorneys, CEOs, construction executives and others.

The $264,000 Rosenberg raised in the first six months of this year is considerably more than the $194,500 he raised in all of 2014, when he was the senate majority leader and the president-in-waiting, having already rounded up enough votes to succeed former Senate President Therese Murray.

Baker has out-fundraised both Democratic legislative leaders, raking in about $940,000 since January.

That’s nearly three times the $352,000 raised by former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick during the same period in his first year, according to a review of campaign finance records by the AP.

Baker has even eclipsed the $663,000 fellow Republican Gov. Mitt Romney raised through the end of June during his first year in office.

Both Patrick and Romney were limited to annual contribution limits of $500.

According to the AP’s review, close to half of Baker’s haul for the first half of the year came from 410 donors maxing out with $1,000 individual contributions.

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