We didn’t make it to Howie Carr’s fundraiser for the state GOP on Sunday. Our invitation must have blown off the porch.

Instead, we went to Crane’s Beach, buffed up our tan, and had a nice picnic. Guaranteed, we made out better than the poor souls who were expected to show at “Howie’s Cape Cod Hideaway” (address provided only to people who RSVP).

No offense to the folks who did make it. The “special guest” –  new party chair Amy Carnevale – and host committee were a who’s who of the sane wing of the party, as opposed to the Jim Lyons wing. But it was still the manifest from the Titanic.

If they raised enough to cover expenses (and per Howie’s self-styled reputation for frugality, that couldn’t have been very much), it was a minor upset. The dough isn’t exactly flowing in local Republican circles these days.

Auto parts magnate Rick Green is reportedly tiring of flushing his money away, unless it’s for national causes. And surely the folks who dropped $3,300 a head at Ron DeSantis’s time down the Cape last month are regretting it now that he’s circling the bowl; jeez, you could buy up to four whole-belly clam plates with that kind of bank.

While the present is wretched for local Republicans, the future looks even worse. Once upon a time on Beacon Hill, Republicans would have gone ballistic at the thought of the bloated $56.2 billion budget that passed on July 31, and their resistance would have enjoyed significant Democratic support. But there was barely a peep from the building’s pitiful GOP contingent in the House (save for backbenchers Nick Boldyga and Marc Lombardo, who voted no), and the thing passed unanimously in the Senate.

Look for pix of Republican “leaders” Bruce Tarr and  Brad Jones on milk cartons coming soon to a convenience store near you.

If the top elected Massachusetts Republicans are perfectly content to go along with the massive expansion of state spending (as, truth be told, they’ve been for years, right Charlie Baker?), then what exactly are they prepared to oppose? Certainly not Trumpism, which in its Lyons-esque manifestation destroyed what little power the party had left.

“We need accountability for our legislative leaders,” Carnevale said in a recent interview. “I do hear from Republican legislators that they really want to focus on issues of concern in Massachusetts, and having the drama associated with the former president is not helpful to those Republicans.”

But accountability is a two-way street. Carnevale can’t reject Trump as completely as she might like without endangering her shaky hold on the party. If she and other local Republicans don’t, no one to the left of Howie will give them the time of day. Meanwhile, the party brand is so toxic, they still can’t find a wealthy narcissist dumb enough to squander a couple million challenging Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

No money. No message. No unity. No candidates.

Here’s a better name for “Howie’s Cape Cod Hideaway”: the witness protection program.

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Jon Keller has been reporting and commenting on local politics since 1978. A graduate of Brandeis University, he worked in radio as a producer and talk-show host before moving into print journalism at The Tab newspapers and the Boston Phoenix. Freelance credits include the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Boston Magazine, the New Republic and the Washington Post. Since 1991 his "Keller At Large" commentaries and interviews have been a fixture on Boston TV, first on WLVI-TV and, since 2005, on WBZ-TV. He is a 12-time Emmy Award winner for political reporting and commentary. He began his Massterlist column in March 2020.