Amy Carnevale never envisioned running for MA GOP State Committee Chair. But now, after the most dismal election performance in the history of the state Republican party, Carnevale will challenge failed state committee chairman Jim Lyons in January.
“I couldn’t stand by and watch our party continue to deteriorate,” explained Carnevale. “It’s gotten to a point where, if there is no action to try and operate cohesively and with a positive message, we’re not going to have a party, frankly.”
Every statewide Republican candidate who ran this year lost by double digits. While the Lyons-endorsed candidates who have become career losers, as well as their enablers among Lyons’ lifers on the state committee, may be cool with losing everything every time, Amy Carnevale and her compatriots see another option beyond Jim Lyons’ doctrine of Total Defeat.
Carnevale promises to completely rebuild the dysfunctional, destitute Bay State GOP.
Besides serving as an elected member of the state committee for more than a decade, Carnevale worked in the George H. W. Bush White House and for the U.S. House of Representatives. She headed the formation of the Massachusetts Republican party platform by the committee for the past eight years. She worked on projects tackling drug control and responding to intellectual disability.
Most importantly, she’s not afraid to call out Lyons for four years of calamitous statewide failure.
“It’s been very clear for the past four years: any candidate who wants support from the party has to go directly through [Jim Lyons].”
Nothing confirmed this more obviously than the candidacy of Anthony Amore. Lyons refused to acknowledge Amore’s campaign for state auditor, omitting his name from the party website. Amore was forced to run his campaign on his own—which, in the end, earned him more votes than gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl. Maybe it wasn’t so bad for Amore to avoid the chairman after all.
“We’ve had a chair of a party who’s actually weighed down Republican candidates,” continued Carnevale, describing Lyons as “a distraction to Republicans running for office and a hindrance to raising money.”
Lyons shows no sympathy to those who hold views contrary to his. “I believe that’s the complete antithesis of how our party should operate,” Carnevale said. Instead, she sees potential in the party through empowering each candidate and appealing to voters of all political stripes. The refusal of the Lyons cult to reach out to that 91 percent of the electorate who are not registered Republicans has not worked, to put it mildly.
During Lyons’ tenure, the percentage of enrolled Republicans in the Bay State has dropped from 10.1 percent to 8.9 percent. Bringing those numbers back up is a priority for Carnevale, and she sees this challenge as an opportunity to empower Republican Town Committees (RTCs), among other grassroots organizations.
“In order for us to get elected, we need to reach out to those unenrolled voters [who] have not felt they have a home in the Republican Party.”
The new Healey administration will be lurching further left than many voters yet understand, Carnevale stated. On the most local level, the Republican Party must embrace issues important to the more than 60 percent of the electorate that is now “unenrolled” – that is, independent.
Carnevale is confident in her ability to support candidates through proper fundraising—even as public-sector union dollars flood the Democrat Party—as well as through nonfinancial resources like systematic access to data and campaign guidance.
She also seeks to end Lyons’ micromanagement (or mismanagement) of the state party. She wants to return to the pre-Lyons’ days of local get-out-the-vote operations.
“This is the first gubernatorial election in many years where we have not had Mass Victory Field Offices.”
In the past, Carnevale explained, these city and town headquarters have served as places of practicality, where candidates could store signs and literature. But if candidates don’t have signs, they don’t need storage for them. The field offices also served as center of camaraderie and coordination—places to confer with campaign staff and determine strategy. But if the party can’t afford to hire staff, there’s no need for a place to meet!
After restoring a basic functional state-committee organization, effective voter education is the next step for Carnevale. Under Lyons’ leadership, that has not occurred.
“The failure of Question 1 was a terrible moment for our party.”
This year’s ballot proposition, a graduated income tax falsely sold as the “Millionaires’ Tax,” had been presented to the public five times in past elections, always failing by wide margins. Granted, the public has been dumbed down, but Lyons totally failed to effectively educate voters on the issue, rendering the cause hopeless.
“We’ve brought our state back from the reputation of being ‘Taxachusetts,’” Carnevale lamented. “We worked really hard to do that. The loss of Question 1 was a low point and will affect the economy of our state for many years moving forward.”
A focus on the fiscal issues, what’s affecting everyday Americans, would be nice. But, Carnevale admitted, the State Committee is too tangled up in the weeds of interparty drama.
“In [Lyons’] mind, there’s this so-called massive conspiracy trying to undermine his ability to succeed, and it’s anything but!”
Carnevale has seen plenty of intimidation tactics throughout her time on the state committee, the most recent being a petty lawsuit over the party bylaws and budget spanning several months, including during prime campaign season.
Carnevale recently received a deposition request from Lyons to answer questions regarding his disputes with party Treasurer Patrick Crowley.
“The deposition request is a fishing expedition. It’s a form of harassment and intimidation for committee members who are afraid of what he might say or do to them. I’m somebody that isn’t going to back down.”
Carnevale realizes the GOP cannibalization must end. Carnevale’s party reset will be grudge-free and will refocus on defeating the Democrats – not her fellow Republicans. She’s spoken to several Lyons supporters—a camp which she herself used to be part of—and gained the sense they will be open to work with a new leader.
“I’d go in with a fresh approach: an opportunity to work with me for the benefit of our party.”
Her tenure would also focus another yet arena where Lyons has totally dropped the ball: mail-in ballots.
Carnevale is not a fan of mail-in ballots. However, the half-hearted lawsuit the GOP filed against them was yet another catastrophic fumble by Lyons, who was a rabid supporter of Ted Cruz in 2016. With no power whatsoever any longer on Beacon Hill, the party must learn to take advantage of the new reality, no matter how odious it seems. Mail-in ballots are now state law, for better or for worse.
Carnevale outlines ways to help campaign teams navigate this unfortunate new normal that appeals to, in some woke precincts, up to 40 percent of voters.
“There’s a lot more that we can be doing to assist our candidates with mail-in ballots: contacting the clerks for their lists on a regular basis, helping candidates understand how to communicate quickly with mail-in voters, and saving money by not communicating with those who have already voted.”
The teachers’ unions did all those things in maximizing their turnout for Question 1. Lyons, on the other hand, was obsessed with suing fellow Republicans, hiring private detectives to investigate committee members he didn’t like, and filing frivolous FOIA requests against GOP office holders like the outgoing governor’s staff.
After four years of Jim Lyons, the Republican party in Massachusetts is on life support. Voters cannot afford to have a repeat of this year’s election, and candidates cannot remain at the mercy of Jim Lyons’ brutally inept, petty, broke regime.
Amy Carnevale has the rapport, the plan, and the energy to rebuild what’s left of the Republican party in Massachusetts.