< .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bleating hearts

To hear Republicans and conservative pundits tell it, Gabriel Gomez was the victim of the Democratic "machine" in his 10-point loss to Sen.-elect Ed Markey.

The fine whine ignores the reality that Massachusetts Democrats are an organized political party and Massachusetts Republicans would have a hard time organizing a one-car funeral. Which may be its fate.

Gomez's loss to a lackluster Markey in a low turnout election is not the worst GOP setback in state history. That would probably belong to Richard Tisei, a far better candidate than the newcomer businessman, who fell to a severely damaged John Tierney.

The fact of the matter is Massachusetts Republicans have as precious few ideas as their national counterparts. A pledge to change Washington was the heart of Gomez's final push. It marked the 1,911th campaign (conservative estimate) by a candidate to make the city the centerpiece of an anti-incumbency campaign.

But that hasn't stopped the laments in print and on the air that Gomez was a victim of the big bad Democratic machine.

Party leaders did what their name implies -- led. The goal of elections is to identify your voters and get them out to the polls. It's actually something the GOP did successfully for 16 years through a series of governors named Weld, Cellucci, Swift and Romney.

Also overlooked is the "machine" failed in its ultimate goal of this campaign -- clearing the field for Markey. Who knows how the Malden Democrat would have fared without a campaign against Stephen Lynch, who defied the "machine" and put himself before voters.

The bleating hearts ignore the systemic problem with the Massachusetts GOP. It has historically ignored the grassroots in favor of the top of the ticket. That has produced fewer and fewer seasoned candidates able to play at the highest levels.

Gomez, whose first foray for the Senate job was to ask Deval Patrick for the temporary one was not ready for prime time. He won a three-way primary against two as unknown Republicans after Scott Brown opted not to run for the fourth time in three years.

His lack of experience (and substance) was clearly visible as he tried to substitute his bomber jacket for Brown's barn coat and offer a limited-time free trial to see if he could handle the job. His complaint that he was up against full Democratic national apparatus conveniently ignores that the national GOP did not think he was worth the investment.

It goes without saying that national Republican help would have been the kiss of death -- imagine the commercials about Mitch McConnell and John Boehner that the Democrats would have served up.

The state GOP was of no help, having just survived an ideological contest for chair that Brown's "moderate" faction barely won.

So no, if you are a Massachusetts Republican, the fault dear Brutus is not in our stars but in yourselves.  No organization, no bench.

It's not something likely to be resolved next year when the Corner Office opens and Markey has to take off the training wheels and run an effective and visible statewide campaign.  Gomez joins Brown and Charlie Baker, who can make Markey seem charismatic, as party standard bearers in a race where the Democratic stable seems almost as empty.

But the "machine" will likely find a way to do what it needs to do.

NB -- Thanks for some of the comments wondering where I've been. No illness or personal woes, just a need to step away.

Labels: , , , , ,