Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is in a tough spot. He is a socially liberal Republican governor of a bright blue state who got elected by successfully framing the 2012 race as a choice between a proven manager who could much more efficiently and effectively steer the ship of state than his opponent, a career partisan politician. It’s a familiar recipe that really hinges on the “socially liberal” part. Baker was able to neutralize the political issues that get peoples’ juices flowing in politics by agreeing with his Democratic opponent. Whenever Attorney General Martha Coakley tried to gin up some good wedge issues, she was forced to use personal, rather than policy, issues. Voters don’t exactly get pissed or pumped by fiscal policy debates. Unfortunately for Coakley, all her efforts to attack Baker’s character went about as well as her invocation of “sweetheart-gate,” which fell flat.
Charlie was able to have his cake and eat it too in 2012, but in 2018 it’s going to be MUCH easier for his Democratic opponent to tie Charlie to his party’s now utterly disgraced national party brand. It’s a good thing Baker is raising lots of cash with which to overwhelm his 2018 challenger.Right?
It turns out that a big chunk of Charlie’s fundraising comes from an arrangement he has with the RNC. Though the arrangement is a bit shady, it’s a well-established and bipartisan kind of shady that isn’t going to have any real cache as a campaign issue. However, even though the ethically dubious campaign finance gymnastics of this MassGOP-RNC fundraising partnership is a dog that won’t hunt, it may still become a potent weapon against Baker next year. The ongoing Washington GOP train wreck includes the party’s on again endorsement and financial support of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. The headline in Frank Phillip’s Globe piece yesterday tells the tale… “Baker continues fund-raising with RNC, despite its support of Moore. If Baker’s fundraising advantage depends on this Mass GOP – RNC partnership, then Bay State Democrats may have just what they need to tie Trump and his merry band of racists and sexual predators around Charlie’s neck.
Democratic Corner Office aspirant Setti Warren’s latest fundraising email went right after this low hanging fruit:
“The Boston Globe just reported that Charlie Baker will continue to raise money for the Republican National Committee--money that the RNC will spend in part to help elect an accused child molester to the U.S. Senate.
Of Baker, the Globe wrote, “it’s clear he is not distancing himself from the money that is helping the accused sexual predator in the Alabama special election on Tuesday.”
If Charlie Baker disagrees with the way the RNC is spending their money, he should stop raising money for the Republican Party. Never has the phrase “put your money where your mouth is” been more apt.”
If this spin has staying power, then Governor Baker may have to make a tough choice. Can he get away with simply condemning Moore and promising to support qualified GOP candidates? If Moore manages to win next Tuesday, Charlie Baker’s fundraising advantage in 2018 will get a lot smaller, one way or the other.
My advice to the Guv is to throw a “Flake.” Overnight the biggest personal check the law allows to Doug Jones ASAP. If Jones pulls it out, Baker will be able to say that he has, in fact, “put his money where his mouth is” and will continue to oppose unfit candidates regardless of their party label.