What Does the Senatorial Race in Massachusetts Say About the GOP?

Is the Senatorial race in Massachusetts a microcosm of the bigger struggle within the Republican Party? John Kerry faces a strong conservative challenger in Republican Jeff Beatty. This should be cause for great excitement. It should be a source of hope in an election season where conservatives must witness the troubling spectacle of the three Presidential candidates jockeying for the opportunity to long jump over the leftist line to the farthest degree.

Jeff is eminently qualified, not only to take on John Kerry, but to provide critical expertise for all Americans in troubled times.  He is a former Delta Force officer, former special agent of the FBI, a former CIA officer and an expert in National Security and counter terrorism.  His time in the private sector as a business owner adds additional perspective to his decision making. 

Why is it then, that the MA Republican Party has seemingly encouraged Jim Oganowski to enter the Republican primary race 7 months AFTER Beatty and against the desires of many of Jim’s own supporters?

The MA Republican Party is squandering the financial resources and good will of a party already in disarray with this questionable approach of subdividing the Republican constituency. We are entitled to know.why.

Apparently, the horror of having Ted Kennedy and John Kerry as senators is not — in Massachusetts’ Republican leaders’ minds — punishment enough for conservatives. Races for state offices could leave a MA conservative reaching for anti-depressants. There are only five Republican challengers running in the 10 congressional district races, a number that make actually shrink if any of these challengers fail to get the necessary signatures to place themselves on the ballot. Further, a vulnerable Niki Tsongas, who won her Congressional seat narrowly last fall over Republican Jim Ogonowski, will go unchallenged.

The primary process is important. It helps to shape and sharpen a candidates’ positions and it provides valuable opportunities to the victor to hone the message and thicken the skin for the larger, more difficult race. But in Massachusetts, the Democrats have managed to set the primary far off in September, which means that any Republican who is challenged will spend most of the year — and too much of his money — fighting an internal battle when he should be campaigning against the Democrats’ candidate.

Massachusetts Republican leaders seem eager to spring the Democrats’ trap on themselves. And, just as troubling, in the Beatty-Ogonowski senate contest, is the growing practice of the RNC to “eat their own.”

Why is Ogonowski not making a second run against Tsongas, in a race and against a challenger that he has already tested? His supporters in the district have asked him to do just that. Why is the State GOP allowing two strong candidates to run against each other and deplete the meager resources that challengers face against incumbents? In a year in which much doom and gloom has been predicted by pundits for the GOP in Washington, it seems an unconscionable waste of financial resources and good will, both increasingly sparse commodities among grassroot Republicans.

Fundraising and endorsements in this race are telling. Ogonowski has received endorsements from former MA Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey as well as former Gov. and Ambassador to Canada, Paul Cellucci, state party godfathers who are choosing sides in a primary. Ogonowski’s funders and backers smell of the Romney campaign stirring the pot, not exactly a group that has a finger on the pulse of winning strategies these days. Mitt Romney is backing a $1000 a plate fundraiser for Ogonowski on May 20th in Boston.

Donors to Ogonowski also seem to be coming from the top down with $300K raised from approximately 2500 donors as of Q-1. Is it telling that Beatty’s grassroots approach has raised over $1 million with over 30,000 donors? Shouldn’t that suggest to the MA GOP that perhaps, they are squandering the opportunity to capture two seats in Washington this fall instead of only focusing on Kerry?

It should be no surprise that the rank and file are angry with the MA GOP and feel that Ogonowski’ s challenge to Beatty is a mistake, including many from the 5th district that have campaigned for Ogonowski in the past. Kevin Hays of Shirley Ma., who campaigned vigorously for Jim last year said, “There is no comparison between Jim and Jeff Beatty. We all begged Jim to run again for Congress and stay away from the Senate race. We are outraged with the GOP hierarchy for promoting such a weak candidate to hurt Jeff Beatty.”
As to the two candidates and their positions, it speaks further of the disconnect between party officials and grassroot conservatives. It appears that the powers that be have thrown their support behind Ogonowski, even though the RNC pretends to stay out of primary races. That is a fallacy that Rhode Island’s Steve Laffey knows all too much about.

This strategy has already shown to be detrimental to the party. In 2006, Laffey ran against unapologetic RINO Lincoln Chafee. Despite Chafee’s obvious and public loathing for the RNC (he endorsed Barak Obama this February…enough said), the RNC put “saving the seat” above electing an actual Republican. Indeed the national GOP poured $1.2 million into the primary contest, all for Chafee. Results? Chafee won by a margin of 54 to 46.

General election results? Chafee lost to Sheldon Whitehouse. Great investment, RNC.

John Stone is running in GA-12 for a seat formerly held by the beloved conservative Charlie Norwood R-12 until his death. The seat is currently held by John Barrow (D-12) and is possibly the most winnable pickup for the GOP in the country. One would think that the GOP would be pounding down Stone’s door and offering him a smidgeon of those funds they threw with such abandon at Chafee. No such luck. It appears that the RNC, while willing to sell its soul for a candidate who hates them, can’t seem to lend a hand to one who has openly and articulately expresses conservative views, views they are supposed to support.

What is the RNC coming to when they consistently chose RINOs over conservatives in the egomaniacal bid for power? How can they fire up the grassroots base when they continue to make such questionable decisions?

As for Oganowski, he said in a recent interview, “Unfortunately our President has lost credibility on the world stage. I think we need to reach out to former President Bush, former President Clinton and former President Carter each who have had proven leadership in the mid east and have them come together to form a coalition of the neighboring states to bring stability to that entire region because you can’t have stability over there unless they all want to participate.”

Even as this goes to press, the MA GOP continues to face troubling questions.  Jeff’s grassroots campaign easily gathered the required signatures to be placed on the ballot.  Whether Ogonawski will garner the needed amount remains to be seen, even at this late date.  Rumblings coming from the Secretary of State suggest that, not only do the numbers fall short, there are questions about the validity of some of the signatures.

The person that the Massachusetts Republican leaders support in the primary race suggests that we lean on former President Carter for leadership. And this would be a change from John Kerry how?


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