Monday, December 23, 2013

Gabriel Gomez said WHAT?

Ah, the Christmas season is upon us. While our Democratic brethren probably feel our party affiliation makes us hard-hearted Grinches, we beg to differ.

We are ALL about peace, harmony and family. Can you feel the love?

Wait, what? Gabriel Gomez said what? He called conservative blogger Rob Eno a WHAT? And then he went on Herald Radio today and said he meant to say it?

Oh, Massachusetts Republicans... What are we doing to ourselves? We have an election to win next year. Airing our dirty laundry and internal fighting in the press is not the way to achieve victory. The word "Klan" should not be coming up in conversations about our party. Period.

Look, there are very few times we would ever say the GOP should be like the Democrats. But here's one instance where the Dems kick our butts. When they have internal disagreements, you don't find out about it in the press. We are positive they have their share of intra-party skirmishes, but they are much, much better at keeping them behind closed doors. Instead, they focus their external efforts and messaging on rallying voters to their side.

When gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker decided to run with former state Rep. Karyn Polito at the beginning of the month, the day-two story in the Boston Globe was about conservatives in the party considering pulling support for the team. We'll leave the politics of that story alone. What's wrong with this situation is that the storyline about the Republicans is not what we'd do for the state if we were to lead, the story is that Republicans can't get it together.

This is not to say that there is no room for disagreement in the party; internal debate is important for the health of the party. But, it should be just that – internal debate. Rent a meeting room like we do for state committee meetings, and instead of polite clapping and speeches and whispered conversations in the back of the room, let's just get it out in the open, decide what we're going to run on, and go campaign.

Let's face it. There are a multitude of beliefs among members of our party. We're not going to say who is right and wrong, because none of them are "right" or "wrong." People believe what they believe, whether it's because of religious reasons, personal experiences, or just because. Candidates claiming they've "evolved" on issues doesn't help the cause. Aren't they effectively saying those who still believe what they used to believe are "unevolved?" They aren't cavemen, they just don't agree with you.

On the Democratic side, Barack Obama was allowed to lead the party even though he didn't support gay marriage. When he had his "evolution" -- his words, not ours -- his party accepted that, too.

Let's stop with the litmus tests. Let's stop trying to figure out who the "real" Republicans are. There are tons of things we all can agree on -- things like smaller, more efficient government. For now, while we're trying to win in 2014, can we just focus on those things we can all get behind and accept that for now, we're not going to find consensus on every single issue?

Why would any independent voter consider coming over to our side when they see how we treat our own family?

Guys, we are not going to win like this. Voters don't want to hear about our internal fighting, they want to know why they should entrust the Corner Office to someone with an R after their name. If we don't start articulating that right this minute, we can kiss another four years goodbye.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Are Massachusetts politicians on the naughty list?

As the Boston Globe reports today, Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates are not high on anyone's gift-giving list this holiday season. Donations are drying up, and even candidates who went gang-busters on fundraising the last time around are not pulling it off again this year.

Is it possible that, in general, politicians have found themselves on the naughty list?

Unless you're a lobbyist or corporate bigwig, donating to political candidates is something most people do sparingly, if at all. It takes a lot to convince the average person to peel off cash for a political candidate. Just ask the candidates, who have to spend hours and hours "dialing for dollars." With today's news that the Massachusetts unemployment rate is now higher than the national average for the first time since 2007, there's a good chance the person who takes their call doesn't have a paycheck, let alone cash to make a donation.

People work hard for their money, and after they've spent it on necessities like mortgages or rent, health insurance, groceries and child care, there isn't much left. Convincing them to give the leftovers--if there are any--to a candidate is no easy sell. 

You've got to be able to convince potential donors that they are going to get some kind of return on their investment. Candidates need to give voters something to buy into, some reason why their hard-earned money will eventually improve the quality of their day-to-day lives. Politicians call it a "donation," but in reality, donors give because they see it as an investment in the future for themselves and their families. 

In a year when Congress' approval rating has sunk to historic lows, Obamacare has been a complete trainwreck and the federal government actually shut down, is it possible that people can't bring themselves to donate another dollar to facilitating bad behavior? 

Is it possible voters are tired of nasty campaigns that spiral into negativity and away from positive visions for the future, and the incessant TV ads and robocalls that come with all that? Perhaps they feel candidates should be able to campaign for an office on the six figures they already have in their war chests. 

We don't think voters are pessimistic. Not by a long shot. We think Massachusetts residents are actually optimistic. They know it can be better, and they are looking for a candidate who matches their hope for the future and who they can trust to lead the state in that direction.

The next Massachusetts governor will be the candidate who can lay out a grander vision for Massachusetts with concrete plans for how to make it happen. Donations are a manifestation of people's inspiration around a candidate.

So far, voters aren't seeing it. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Worthy Opposition

Confession #1: We two Republicans called in to the Juliette Kayyem Tele-Town Hall last night.

(Hey, they weren't checking party registration at the "door." So, we figured we should hear what she had to say. Market research, I guess you could call it.)

Confession #2: We were impressed.

Before we get to the specifics, we want to set the record straight. We are firmly Republican. We vote Republican, and our views fall pretty solidly in the GOP column. And, with all due respect, we definitely won't be caucusing with the Democrats in 2014.

But we also aren't beyond admitting when a candidate -- of any stripe -- is doing something cool.

So, we're not at all ashamed to say that, as far as we're concerned, if Kayyem's performance on her Tele-Town Hall last night is an indication of how she'll run, Martha Coakley and Steve Grossman had better get their game faces on.

Kayyem started the call with what seems to be her stump speech, a story about how her grandmother would carry her immigration papers in a Ziploc baggie wherever she went. It's a nice story (although I'm admittedly a sucker for grandmother stories) and it appears it wasn't written just for the campaign trail. She mentions the Ziploc baggie in this Boston Globe column from 2006.

After her intro, the Tele-Town Hall host (sounded like a campaign staffer) said Juliette would take questions and said they would be conducting a poll asking whether callers would be caucusing for Kayyem (a "press one" or "press two" deal). Maybe we're just wide-eyed Tele-Town Hall newbies, but this struck us a pretty good way for candidates to get some intel on how they're doing and interact with likely votes in a pretty controlled manner (we're guessing that the questions were screened pretty well before they got to Kayyem).

She fielded questions on the environment, standardized testing, and how she differed from the other Democratic candidates she's running against. It came across as unscripted, and whether it was or it wasn't, they pulled it off pretty well.

Here's the thing: Kayyem is usually labeled as a progressive, and we were expecting to hear a lot of that on the call last night, complete with the typical Republican-bashing you hear from people like recently-elected Congresswoman Katherine Clark. But it didn't happen.

In fact, she said the word "Republican" only two or three times, even though she was on a call geared at Democratic primary voters. She didn't pander. When asked by a retired teacher about the problems with MCAS testing and standardized testing in general, Kayyem said she thought some form of standardized testing is necessary.

Kayyem found a way to embrace the Democratic platform, while highlighting her strengths on issues typically embraced by the Republican Party, such as public safety. She spoke about her experience as Massachusetts homeland security chief under Deval Patrick, and specifically her role overseeing the Massachusetts National Guard. For Massachusetts voters used to seeing their governor giving press conferences from The Bunker in Framingham, Kayyem is smart is to get people envisioning her in her winter parka advising drivers to stay off the road.

Kayyem's background allows her to speak credibly on public safety issues, and the fact that she feels comfortable addressing them could be helpful in a state where security weighs heavily on our minds these days. In a recent speech at the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association lunch, she supported a commission to review the Boston Marathon bombing intelligence and response and said Democrats give “short shrift” to growing the state’s defense industry (typically Republican territory.)

Her apparent ability to walk the line on issues without sounding unbearably partisan or like she doesn't have any true positions at all makes her dangerous to her political opponents in a state where unenrolled voters make up the bulk of the registered population.

When you throw in the fact that she is female, is proving to be a proficient fundraiser, knows how to work social media, and has never run before makes us think she could be a real threat to the perceived Democratic primary frontrunners, despite what the most recent polls say. She's new and different, and that counts for something. Just ask Deval 2006. 

And if she makes it through the primary, she will be a very solid and worthy opponent for us Republicans.