In Massachusetts, the Democratic fields for governor and lieutenant governor are pretty packed, but that’s not the case on the Republican side.
In line with a trend that started in the early 1990s and worked successfully until the election of Democratic Governor Deval Patrick in 2006, two Republicans vying for the top two state offices are teaming up ahead of November’s election to replace Patrick, who is not seeking a third term.
Karyn Polito is a GOP candidate for lieutenant governor. Republican Charlie Baker is again running for governor after losing in 2010. Polito says joining forces with Baker draws upon the electoral success of former governors William Weld and Paul Cellucci throughout the 1990s.
“They truly were a team that respected one another and acted in concert to advance a common agenda,” Polito said. “That’s the type of team that Charlie Baker and I represent.”
The Democratic gubernatorial candidates include Martha Coakley, Steve Grossman, Juliette Kayyem, Don Berwick and Joe Avellone. Baker is being challenged by Tea Party candidate Mark Fisher. The Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor include Steve Kerrigan, Mike Lake, Jonathan Edwards, James Arena-DeRosa and Leland Cheung. Polito, who served 10 years in the Massachusetts House, is the lone Republican candidate for lieutenant governor so far.
“I think people in the general public benefit from having a team of two individuals very dedicated, committed and competent to lead the state forward,” Polito said. “They know going into Election Day that team is ready on day one to take action.”
Ben Taylor, assistant professor of political science at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, says teaming up makes sense for Republicans, as 36 percent of Massachusetts voters are registered Democrats and the majority of the 53 percent unenrolled lean to the left.
“If you have a number of Republican candidates running for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, the constitutional officers of the commonwealth, you can deplete your bench of the number of people who can run for those offices who have the name recognition and the capacity to fundraise,” said Taylor.
Jim Bronson heads the Berkshire GOP. He says both Baker and Polito bring much-needed name recognition and thinks they will carry the torch for Republicans come November. Bronson cites Fisher’s more conservative views as a roadblock.
“That type of conservatism doesn’t always play as popular in Massachusetts,” Bronson said.”To be a successful Republican in Massachusetts you have to be kind of a Scott Brown Republican. That’s not a bad word. That just means that you can’t be a Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz, who got elected very well in Texas and will continue to get elected in Texas, would not get elected in Massachusetts.”
Though each candidate is elected in his or her own right, Taylor says the Baker-Polito campaign allows Republicans to double up their time, effort and money with a common message.
“For Charlie Baker, he’s got to have this moderate stance as the person at the top of the ticket to have a chance in a statewide race,” Taylor said. “But because he’s a Republican, because he’s got the “R” beside his name, there’s no conceivable way he wins without getting conservative Republicans. He’s got to get them out to vote and they have to vote for him. So Polito makes that possible because she’s has those conservative credentials.”