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Senate and House leaders are revamping the party’s legislative agenda. Party officials talk of a new focus on grassroots to begin nurturing a farm team of future Republican candidates.
Tim O’Brien, Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey’s campaign manager and a former executive director of the Massachusetts Republican Party, believes a chief problem is the country’s anti-Republican mood.
As the bluest state in t“The fact that we’ve had a Republican governor for 16 years has been both a blessing and almost a curse,” Tisei said. While good for media coverage, he said, Republican governors drew attention away from the state party and its legislative caucus. he nation, Massachusetts is a tough political climate for Republicans. Their House caucus has been in a 10-year decline, shrinking to 19 of a total 160 representatives. The Senate’s Republican population fell to five of 40 seats. The Republican’s 16-year hold on the executive office ends Jan. 4, when Deval Patrick becomes the first Democrat in the governor’s chair since Michael Dukakis left office in 1990.
“The Republican Party of Massachusetts had a remarkable run getting governors elected,” said Kamarck, who once worked under the Clinton administration. “But what they failed to do was build a political party. So they now, interestingly enough, have nothing left.”
“The fact that we’ve had a Republican governor for 16 years has been both a blessing and almost a curse,” Tisei said. While good for media coverage, he said, Republican governors drew attention away from the state party and its legislative caucus. Tisei and his House colleague, Rep. Brad Jones (R-North Reading), are working to fill that 16-year void by refocusing the spotlight on the Legislature.
In separate interviews, they talked of advancing a legislative agenda that provides options - not just opposition - to the Democrats.
Tisei sees a new legislative agenda that returns to New England Republican roots: smaller government, lower taxes and a de-emphasis on legislating on moral issues – such as abortion, stem cell research and gay rights.
“Get the government off of our backs, out of our pocketbooks and away from our bedrooms.”
“Historically, one-party government leads to mistakes, excess and poor governing,” Jones said.
Beyond the upcoming legislative battles, Republicans are now exploring ways of winning back elective offices. “We could take a lesson from the Democrats in terms of the way they create a farm team,” said Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Hanson). “Theirs is more of a grassroots organization.”
“I think that the most organic and natural way to create a good politician is to start at the local level,” said Dodge.
A best-case scenario over the next four years, Kamarck said, would be if the party chair – to be elected this January – raised enough money, recruited candidates for local races and built town committees.