The First Suffolk District’s Republican state committee seats have been vacant for two years. Former Chair Jim Lyons didn’t want them filled for some reason. Maybe he was afraid of who might have won. At any rate, he had planned to leave those two seats, as well as five others on the 80-seat committee, vacant until March 2024.
Timothy J. Smyth, a fourth-generation resident of South Boston, began the process to fill the seats during his time as a college undergraduate. Smyth teamed up with Jeanna Tamas hoping Lyons would call a special caucus to fill the seats, but the two seats remained vacant until Lyons was ejected from office last January.
Two months into the new MassGOP led by Amy Carnevale, a special caucus for the First Suffolk will take place this weekend.
In the two years since Lyons stonewalled the process, Smyth has graduated from Boston College with a bachelor’s degree in political science and Chinese.
Smyth noted Tamas’ crucial organization efforts in First Suffolk during the Lyons-induced limbo. “She helped me reform the ward committees every time the former Chairman illegally dissolved them.”
But Tamas has since moved out of the district, so she is now ineligible to run for state committee there. Smyth, with the help of Republican grassroots activists, found Dr. Elizabeth Hinds-Ferrick, who was eager to get involved.
Hinds-Ferrick is an immigrant who earned a bachelor’s in mental health counseling from Suffolk University, a master’s in public policy from Tufts, and a doctorate in law and policy from Northeastern.
Right off the bat, Hinds-Ferrick recruited several new Republicans: her friends and family.
When Tamas and Smyth originally got involved, Smyth recalled that former chairman Lyons wasn’t immediately hostile.
“When I met him, he was quite friendly, but a red flag I noticed immediately was when I started adding committee members to my ward, and he would ask, ‘What kind of Republican are they? Make sure they’re not Baker fans.’”
“Although I disagreed with Baker on a lot of issues, if someone had an ‘R’ next to their name, I didn’t see a reason not to include them in the ward committee. [Lyons] focused just on the negative—not on becoming a functioning party in the state.”
“He was out-of-touch,” Hinds-Ferrick echoed. “There is a lot of diversity of opinion, and that is what we need.”
Smyth recalled something state auditor candidate Anthony Amore said during his appearance on WGBH’s Keller @ Large. Amore described the growing hostility Lyons and his minions directed at the people he derided as RINOs (Republicans In Name Only).
Ironically, many of those “RINO’s,” including new chairman Carnevale, had been supporters of Donald Trump from the beginning in 2016, while Lyons and his top money-man, Rick Green, had instead backed also-rans Ted Cruz and John Kasich, respectively.
In Massachusetts, where less than nine percent of the electorate are registered Republican and that small percentage is experiencing nasty infighting, it brings no benefit to a candidate to run with an “R” next to his or her name.
“I’m a conservative Republican,” Smyth said. “I realize I’m in Massachusetts, so I had to be pragmatic and…accept [Charlie Baker] as the governor. The former chairman posed such a strict litmus test—which I passed—until he found out that I did not want to remove the governor from the executive board of our party.”
The Lyons posse engaged in Facebook smear campaigns against Smyth, suggesting he was groomed and bribed by fans of the former governor.
Smyth noted Lyons’ ongoing pattern of interpersonal issues, leading to the total defeat last November of what remained of the Bay State GOP. “He has active litigation against fellow Republicans, he spent 2022 attacking Anthony Amore—who was one of the only candidates who had a serious statewide campaign—and he has stalled on these caucus votes for state committee for two years. There are now seven vacancies.”
“I don’t think a shoot-out in a lifeboat is a smart way to grow the party,” Smyth said.
Smyth then pointed to Lyons’ wretched stewardship of the state party’s finances.
“It was already a messy situation, and then you look at the fundraising. We’re over $600,000 in debt. It was failure across the board.”
Lyons was finally ousted as state party chair by Amy Carnevale in January. Carnevale called for the overdue First Suffolk caucus as soon as her tenure began.
Amidst a change in professional situation, running mate, and—most significantly—state party leadership, Smyth’s intentions are still the same: “to increase the number of registered Republicans here in Boston and in Massachusetts at large.”
The main responsibilities of the state committee are mobilizing voter registration efforts, recruiting candidates and then fundraising for them. Smyth and Hinds-Ferrick said their priority will be to increase registration, especially in a district where Republicans are close to endangered-species status.
Smyth explained, “One of the first questions a candidate asks before he enters his campaign is ‘How many registered Republicans are in this district?’ The number in Boston is even less than 8 percent. If it’s that low, why is he or she even going to bother running?”
Inspiring future recruits in a party so deep in the red—the wrong kind of red—is bound to be a challenge. Still, Hinds-Ferrick displayed a level-headed approach.
“We’re not at the table yet to know the exact nuts and bolts. I’m sure that once we all come together, we’ll be able to strategize ways to get good members to run and even reach out to Independent voters.”
The generations-old Boston tradition of voting Democrat doesn’t deter Smyth or Hinds-Ferrick from promoting Republican values: accountability, law and order, and preserving the innocence of children.
“You aren’t your grandfather. You aren’t your father. You are your own person,” said Smyth. “People across the world could only pray about living in such a situation.”
Dr. Elizabeth Hinds-Ferrick, originally from Guyana, was one of those people.
“I remember being a young person just sitting under the stars and wishing I could come to America,” she recalled. “It was a miracle to come, and I’m a naturalized citizen who will fight for America and its constitution.”
The duo is already actively increasing GOP voter registration in the First Suffolk district. They spent last Saturday talking to constituents at the site of the upcoming caucus, the Rainbow Adult Day Health Center.
“When we mentioned we were from the Republican Party, the whole room shouted in praise,” Smyth noted. “That’s something you don’t often see.”
In the context of the high Vietnamese population in Dorchester, Smyth and Hinds-Ferrick discussed the dramatic cultural shift in the Democratic Party, namely in its calls for widespread, subsidized abortion and normalizing exposure to obscenity in elementary-school classrooms.
“During our time at the Rainbow Center,” Smyth explained, “we met with voters who have grandchildren in the school system. They fled Vietnam’s communism for the education and opportunities America provides, and that is not something they wanted their children or grandchildren to be taught in school.”
“They’re bringing radical gender ideology into kindergarten,” Smyth explained. “At New Bedford Public Library there was a children’s book about performing sexual acts with nearly pornographic scenes depicted.”
Smyth was referring to the town’s inclusion of Seeing Gender in the children’s literature section. The book includes chapters such as “‘Sex Work’ is Not a Bad Term.”
In Massachusetts, this kind of thing is not an isolated occurrence. In Acton, parents recently sparred with a school library offering This Book is Gay to young students, a detailed work describing how to perform R-rated acts.
“It’s pornography,” Hinds-Ferrick stated bluntly.
“To us,” Smyth continued, “it’s common sense. The Democratic Party of the 1960s, when the Irish Catholics were at their pinnacle here in Boston, is not the Democratic Party we see today.”
“And if [exposure to children] is something you disagree with, there aren’t many Democrats today that you’d feel comfortable voting for.”
Hinds-Ferrick and Smyth also agreed the Republican Party takes urban voters for granted, spinelessly allowing the Democrats to hold them as their core constituents.
“The party needs to show that it cares for the inner-city folks and the issues that affect Boston and its residents,” said Hinds-Ferrick.
Smyth agreed. “Our message here is that we are an alternative to this one-party system that has run this city for a century.”
After reaching out to several members of the caucus, the duo feels confident they have the support needed to win the First Suffolk district’s long-vacant (thanks to Lyons) state committee seats.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Hinds-Ferrick admitted, “but Tim and I are ready for the battle. We are in this for the long-haul.”
The vote will take place this Saturday, March 25, at the Rainbow Adult Day Health Center on Freeport Street in Dorchester.