February 06, 2015

Apparently, some Massachusetts Republicans are a bit disgruntled over many of Governor Baker’s staffing choices so far.  How could these Republicans not have seen this coming? Apparently, they thought Baker’s dog whistle on welfare reform was a coded message assuring them that everything else he said on the campaign trail was a ruse. 

Governor Baker is appointing lots of Democrats to his administration for the same reason he bent over backward in his campaign to avoid taking conservative policy positions; because he wanted to be elected Governor in a liberal state based on his credentials as a successful leader and manager who would bring greater efficiency and effectiveness to the administration of liberal government policies and programs. 

By appointing lots of Democrats, Baker is living up to his promises on the campaign trail.  He’s the chief executive officer of a liberal state government. In order to succeed in making it a more efficient and effective liberal state government, he needs good managers willing and able to focus on improving the management of state agencies and programs, not on changing the policy direction of those agencies and programs.  Changing the management culture is an ambitious aim that would be near impossible if the governor also tried to chart a substantively different policy path at the same time.

Both his substantive goals as governor and his re-election in 2018 require Baker to do just what he is presently doing with his executive branch staffing decisions.  I suspect that behind closed doors Governor Baker would assure his GOP doubters that his approach is in the long term political and policy interests of his party. By winning Democratic cooperation and trust in his effort to reform state government administration in his first term, he will be able to point to his four years of bipartisan progress in making government leaner and more effective in his bid for a second term.  

If the Republicans complaining about his appointments were interested in the health of their state party they would give Governor Baker quite a bit of slack here in the early going.  He is the first GOP Governor in quite a while who seems sincerely willing to make productive long term investments in state party building; investments much more likely to pay off if he becomes a successful two term governor.

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