When millionaire auto parts dealer Rick Green took the podium at last Tuesday’s election night gathering of the broken-down junker that the modern-day Massachusetts Republican Party has become, he inadvertently wrote its epitaph.
Green was white-hot over the Associated Press’ call, minutes after the polls closed, that Maura Healey had won the race for governor, a conclusion that begged the question – what took them so long? But it was too quick for Green, who insisted, “We have reason to believe that this will go down as a worse call than [the 100% correct Fox News/AP call naming Joe Biden as the winner in] Arizona in 2020.”
That pitiful homage to Trump-world’s election-denial, fake-media fantasies was a bit wordy to fit on a headstone, but it’s perfect for the memorial card at the GOP wake.
Under the toxic management of Green and party Chairman Jim “I’m losing as fast as I can” Lyons, the party has been on life support for awhile. But notwithstanding an environment of economic anxiety – reinforced by tens of millions of dollars worth of ads blaming Democrats for it pumped into the Massachusetts airwaves courtesy of New Hampshire campaigns – the GOP flatlined.
Geoff Diehl, who set his meager hopes ablaze at the outset by trading his endorsement of election denialism (this election’s cardinal sin) for a nod from superannuated gasbag Donald J. Trump, got just over 847,000 votes in the governor’s race, down from the 979,000 he won in his equally hopeless 2018 run against U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. For perspective, consider the 1 million-plus drawn by Scott Brown in 2010 and Charlie Baker in 2014, and the 880,000 who voted last week for Anthony Amore for auditor. (This column drew Diehl’s ire over the summer by comparing him to a shrub, which in hindsight was unfair – to shrubbery.)
Unwisely, Baker and Amore were persona non grata in the victoriam non grata world of Lyons and company. During a round of pre-election interviews given by Brown in an effort to rally the invisible troops, he treated questions about the party’s leadership as if they were a Clark Bar bobbing in his pool on a hot day.
On their way to losing at least three more House seats and failing to make any gains in the Senate, the Republican death-wish even claimed one of Lyons’ most high-profile opponents, Rep. Shawn Dooley of Norfolk, who nearly ousted him as party chairman last year. Dooley lost big to incumbent Sen. Becca Rausch, despite plenty of money, his endorsement by Baker and her distinction as the only Democratic senator facing a challenge to go unendorsed by Healey.
This self-demolition derby might be comical if it wasn’t so sad. Democrats will argue that their caucus is ideologically diverse enough to mitigate the pitfalls of one-party rule. But a case can be made that a viable Republican opposition has never been more needed to speak for the million-plus who voted against the graduated income tax and driver’s licenses for the undocumented, and at least slow down the teacher-union takeover of state government.
Instead, pending the last-gasp party leadership election in January, the Massachusetts GOP is in the hands of monument masons like Green, chiseling away at a once-viable party’s tombstone.
But there’s a silver lining: surely, as they trick out the coffin, they can get a discount on a nice MyPillow.
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