A Tale of Two Conventions
September 07, 2012
by Peter Ubertaccio Director, Joseph Martin Institute for Law & Society
In the tale of two party conventions, Massachusetts Republicans will find their decades-long challenge.
Not a single elected official from Massachusetts addressed the Republican National Convention. While Massachusetts' most famous Republican, Mitt Romney, became the first from the the Bay State to accept the nomination of his party since 1924, the absence of any elected or would-be elected official from the state on the program was noticeable.
It's not incredibly surprising given the dearth of Republicans in Massachusetts but the GOP contingent in Tampa made news for the noted absences. Scott Brown showed up on the last day and Richard Tisei, challenging a weakened congressman John Tierney, was no where to be seen.
Bill Weld was present but as a delegate from New York.
The only Massachusetts speakers on the dais were certified Friends of Mitt like Kerry Healy and Jane Edmonds.
Local GOP guru Ron Kaufmann seconded Romney's nomination. Republican elected officials were part of the delegation but otherwise had no prominence on the official schedule. Massachusetts had some of the best seats in the house but was not given the traditional courtesy of a place in the roll call of the states to put their former Governor over the top in the delegate count.
Well, for one, Mitt Romney is not a party man. He's not a creature of the Republican Party in the state nor did he develop close relationships with the politicos that dominate life here.
Secondly, the brand of the national GOP is simply not popular with Massachusetts voters and all involved are keenly aware. Weld was the last Republican from the state to attempt to moderate some elements of the platform at the party's 1996 San Diego Convention. He was swiftly removed from the speakers' list that year.
But look to Charlotte and the difference is striking. It's Obama's convention but Massachusetts plays a high profile and integral role. Governor Deval Patrick prime time speech electrified the crowd and Patrick seemed in his element on the first night of the Convention.
Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren was given the prized primetime slot just before former President Bill Clinton, whose popularity in the state rivaled any of our homegrown Democrats.
The Democrat's 2004 standard bearer, Senator John Kerry, will speak to the convention on Thursday, the night the President accepts his renomination.
In addition to the lineup of speakers, a good portion of the Democratic congressional delegation, statewide officeholders, and local officials are in attendance. A moving tribute to the late Senator Ted Kennedy ushered in the Convention. And while some may disagree with elements of the Democratic platform, none feel the need to run away from it or their national party.
Of course the sentiment is not universal. Republican congressional candidate Sean Bielat, one of the Republicans looking to challenge Joseph P. Kennedy for the seat of the retiring Barney Frank, showed up in Tampa. Democratic Senate President Therese Murray, currently in a tight race to keep her seat, is skipping Charlotte. And despite the possible damage the national Republican brand can inflict on the Massachusetts GOP, Senator Brown is leading Warren in recent polls, demonstrating his cross-over appeal to Democrats and independents. But that provided all the more reason for him to avoid hitching his truck to the national GOP in Tampa.
A speaker's list does not a party make. But the continued dominance of the GOP in the west and south remains a significant challenge to the party in Massachusetts and New England.
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