Mass GOP Sees Opportunity In Divided Democrats
This past weekend’s Massachusetts Democratic Convention told a very different story than the Republican counterpart in March. In all but two statewide races, multiple Democratic candidates will be on September’s primary ballot.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party endorsed Treasurer Steve Grossman for governor. He received 35 percent of nearly 4,400 delegate votes. Attorney General Martha Coakley has consistently led Democrats in general election polling, but was only able to secure 23 percent of the delegates. Former federal healthcare administrator Don Berwick nearly beat her with 22 percent.
“This has become a real three-way race,” Berwick said. “I’m the candidate that’s offer the most progressive agenda and I think I have a new platform now.”
Coakley says she accomplished what she wanted to at the convention, understanding she still leads in the polls.
“I think they’re totaling different processes, different focuses,” Coakley said. “There have been 4,000 to 6,000 people who have been focused on this race through caucuses. It’s a very different dynamic. We’ve known that all along and that’s why we said we’re happy to come here today [Saturday]. We want to get people energized. I know that everybody here today is going to be behind whoever the Democratic nominee for governor is and we’re moving onto the primary.”
Kirsten Hughes chairs the Massachusetts Republican Party, which has endorsed Charlie Baker for governor. Baker lost to outgoing Governor Deval Patrick by six percentage points in 2010. Tea Party candidate Mark Fisher will be on the primary ballot, which Hughes says provides Baker an opportunity to hone his message. She says the weekend’s convention showed division among Democrats and a lack of excitement for Coakley, who lost a special Senate election to Republican Scott Brown in 2010, despite strong name recognition.
“The Democratic activists that know her the best [and] that have been with her these past 10-15 years, they don’t believe in her,” Hughes said. “I think that’s what you’re going to start to see even more of in polling against Charlie Baker.”
Speaking with reporters after accepting the Democratic endorsement, Grossman said he believes it will come down to him and Coakley.
“When the second place finisher frankly is rejected by 75 percent of the convention delegates…that’s also noteworthy,” said Grossman.
Democrats placed three candidates on the primary ballot for lieutenant governor and treasurer, while two will vie for the party’s nomination for attorney general. Without a party endorsement, Steve Kerrigan, Mike Lake and Leland Cheung are running for lieutenant governor. Karyn Polito is Baker’s running mate. Deb Goldberg, Barry Finegold and Tom Conroy are the Democrats vying for treasurer also without a Democratic endorsement against the GOP’s Mike Heffernan.
Democrats endorsed Warren Tolman for attorney general, although he nearly split the delegate vote with Maura Healey. John Miller has the Republican endorsement. Democrats have nominated Auditor Suzanne Bump and Secretary of State Bill Galvin for reelection. Republican Patricia Saint Aubin is looking to edge out Bump, while Dave D’Arcangelo looks to unseat Galvin. Hughes says the divided field poses a real chance for Republicans. The party is fielding a full slate of candidates for all the statewide offices for the first time in roughly two decades, according to Hughes.
“Democratic activists cannot come to decisions about which candidate they want to hang their hat on,” Hughes said. “I think that gives Republicans an opportunity to be the voice of moderate and fiscal responsibility.”
Democratic Senator Ed Markey is being challenged by Republican Brian Herr. The Hopkinton selectmen admits it will be tough race. Hughes says that’s the case for all the Congressional seats; Republicans are only challenging two of nine.
“This is Massachusetts,” Hughes said. “Any time we go against the entrenched Democratic establishment it isn’t an easy fight, but it’s one worth taking on.”
Hughes pointed out the party has grown from having five offices statewide on Election Day in 2010 to 16, five months before November’s elections.