At this point, everyone in the state Republican Party would probably agree that it would have been best to be good sports at the Republican Convention in March and round up tea party gubernatorial candidate Mark Fisher’s delegate count to 15 percent and let him on the September primary ballot. There is no turning back the clock, however, and the current ugly dispute makes the party and Mr. Fisher look bad, and leaves certain nominee Charles Baker hoping he can keep any mud from this spat from splattering him.
A disagreement about how blank ballots should be counted left the party claiming Mr. Fisher fell short of the 15 percent threshold while the Fisher camp argued he squeaked across the bar. Mr. Fisher sued the party, and unnerved by his accusations that the party establishment stole the election from the outsider, GOP leaders this week said they would do what they should have been done in March and put him on the ballot -- if he drops the lawsuit. Too late, says the angry Mr. Fisher, who not only wants to be on the ballot but wants the suit to go forth on June 16 so he can expose what he insists were vote manipulations to keep him off the ballot.
Complicating matters is the Republican State Committee’s claim that Mr. Fisher demanded $1 million in exchange for dropping the lawsuit and going away. Mr. Fisher counters that it was the RSC that approached him with a financial offer in exchange for dropping the lawsuit, an offer he rejected. MassGOP chair Kirsten Hughes chastised Mr. Hughes Wednesday for publicizing the dispute by, among other things, "speaking to newspapers." The state Republican Party’s leadership, which created this mess, is angry that voters are getting to read about it.
The solution is plainly for Mr. Fisher to be placed on the ballot while the candidate drops his lawsuit, with no money exchanging hands, but the bitterness engendered by this lengthy brawl may prevent that from happening. Mr. Baker, who would easily defeat Mr. Fisher in a primary, is wisely maintaining radio silence.
The lesson for state Democrats who host their convention next month? If a candidate for governor or any other office gets anywhere near 15 percent of the delegates, put them on the September ballot.