(Yes, I know. I'm front-paging our resident Liberal Troll. But I think his article is an interesting read, and worth discussing. Please don't hate me... - promoted by Paul R. Ferro)
Scott Brown's recent announcement that he was thinking about running for Governor got me thinking about a possible Charlie Baker / Scott Brown primary fight and its possible implications--such as providing an opening for the emerging rightwing coalition of social conservatives and libertarians to divide and conquer the moderate, establishment wing of the party.
But, before I could put my thoughts down, the Herald ran a speculative story about a dream-team ticket of Brown/Baker (or Baker/Brown, depending on your preference). That scenario seems far more remote than my speculation. I just can't see either one of them playing second fiddle to the other. Sure Brown would offer Baker the unofficial post of "Deputy Governor" to go along with the powerless office of Lt. Governor, but Baker pretty much had that role in the '90s--been there, done that. Baker is an accomplished guy and I can't see him playing second fiddle to someone that has a fraction of the policy bona fides he has. Nor can I see the impressive ego Brown posses sharing the spot light with anyone, let alone someone who would outshine him in the State House. Conversely, even without his ego, it is understandable that a former US Senator would NEVER run for Lt. Governor. So a Brown/Baker ticket just seems to improbable.
Sure the wise-men and women of the state GOP may persuade Brown to run for the Senate in 2014 (assuming conventional wisdom wins out in the upcoming special election). But running for an open Governor's seat is a lot easier than running against an incumbent US Senator. And why would Charlie Baker "pass" on the one political office he truly ever wanted?
So that leads us to an epic Brown-Baker primary, which I don't think will be bloody and could prove to be positive for the MA GOP. Neither of these two have negative personalities and I think would genuinely seek the high road (although Brown is a bit thin skinned and over reacts to minor slights). Of course, all bets are off when it comes to GOP activists and how they behave with each other, as ongoing skirmishes at RMG illustrate.
If a Brown-Baker primary emerges, it will give the conservative wing of the party a great deal of room to maneuver. Given the moderate social positions both have, each will have to court a Lt. Governor candidate from the right to mollify them. It is great news for the scores of solidly conservative state reps, most notably women like Shauna O'Connell and Sheila Harrington (and leaves Dan Winslow scratching his head wondering why he's running for reelection to the House.)
But more likely, it creates a real opportunity for a third candidate, to the right of Brown-Baker, to enter the race. Even someone as Simple as me understands Brown and Baker will split the moderate GOP vote and give grassroots activists a chance to finally score a major victory against the establishment. Obvious speculation as to who that would be include O'Connell, along with businessmen/libertarian's Rick Green and Brad Wyatt. Even more exciting would be a ticket that brought two strong conservatives together to galvanize the right. Of course such a scenario of a Brown/Baker/Fill-in-the-blank-rightwing-candidate does increase the likelihood of a bloody primary.
This maybe one of those rare times when I and many here at RMG are rooting for the same thing: An insurgent right-wing ticket that defeats two moderate pillars of the MA GOP. Of course for different reasons.