Our Opinion: State GOP's Tuesday wasn't super
Super Tuesday was evidently a super one for state Republican Party conservatives, as President Donald Trump handily won the party's delegates and a battle for the state committee has been narrowly won by the Trump forces over those of Republican Governor Charlie Baker. It can also be concluded, however, that the day was, as described by one committee member, as a bad one for the GOP in Massachusetts.
President Trump won 87.7 percent of the vote in the Republican primary to 9.3 percent from former Massachusetts Governor William Weld. Mr. Weld told The Eagle's editorial board that he hoped to "pop" one of three states — Massachusetts, Vermont and Utah — but the 10 percent he got in Vermont was the highest of the three and Mr. Weld's long-shot candidacy is now for all intents and purposes finished.
President Trump, however, is unlikely to carry the state and its 11 electoral votes in November. In 2016. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won 60 percent of the vote to Mr. Trump's 33 percent. Given the president's unpopularity in state polls it seems likely that Joe Biden, who won the Democratic Party primary even though he was barely a presence here in the weeks leading up to the vote, or rival Berkshire Sanders, who took second, will win Massachusetts by similar percentages in 2016.
And while the pro-Trump forces of Republican Party chairman Jim Lyons appear to have won the majority of committee members in the party election on Tuesday, the battle with the moderate forces of Gov. Baker was a divisive one marked by direct mails and robocalls smearing the other side. The party chose to allow such comments to be made anonymously, which only contributed to the vitriol. The party election, committee member Amy Carnevale, the party's nominee for secretary of state in 2018, told the Commonwealth Magazine Codcast, was "a low point for the Republican Party in Massachusetts."
However, the lowest point for the party may have come when Secretary of State William Galvin recently released the party enrollment figures in the state since President Trump was elected in 2016. The great majority of the new voters in the state are unenrolled, but Democrats did pick up 1,265 voters. The Republican Party, however, lost 5,709 members. This would reflect Mr. Trump's unpopularity in the state with many moderate Republicans supporting the policies of Gov. Baker, whose approval rating in the state is, unlike Mr. Trump's, consistently high.
With the Republican Party losing members and split between two warring factions it is no surprise that the party is all but irrelevant in the state outside of the governor's office. Republicans are never elected to the constitutional offices below governor and lieutenant governor. In Western Massachusetts, 1st District Democrat Rep. Richard Neal will have a primary opponent this fall but it is unlikely he will have a Republican opponent. The five members of the Berkshire legislative delegation, all Democrats in a Legislature dominated by Democrats, will most likely run unopposed this fall.
The right wing of the state Republican Party is welcome to celebrate its victory in party elections and Mr. Trump's strong showing in the state primary. But it is a hollow celebration coming as their party splits in two and appears to slip into greater irrelevance in Massachusetts.
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