I Attended the MA GOP State Party Chair Candidate Forum and Lived to Tell the Tale

Imagine you’re back in high school.

You’ve joined the newly-sanctioned table tennis team, and, for some reason, you feel strongly that you need to be the Secretary. Your school requires elections for all leadership positions, so you do some research on the history of the indoor sport and give a speech about good ol’ David Foster in front of all the kids who just want to play ping pong.

But wait—there’s more. Five other high schoolers want to be the Table Tennis Secretary. The others gang up to smear you because they know, deep down, you’re more of a foosball gal. You can imagine the back-and-forth.

Unless some classmate or another is particularly passionate about the table-tennis team, he has no idea what’s been happening in the school gym Tuesday afternoons. And amid all the bickering, not one pong is pinged.

The MA GOP State Committee race for Party Chair is basically the same thing.

I’m fully aware that if you are the average Bay Stater, you have no idea what the state committee of either party–Democrat or Republican—is or does.

The Massachusetts State Committee doesn’t consist of government officials. Its members are elected by ballot during the primaries, and they recruit, fundraise for, and spread messaging for candidates. It sounds all great and grassroots-y, unless you’re a Republican candidate the committee decides they don’t like.

The crazies and the connected can easily convince the committee to reallocate funding and box aspiring candidates out of committee resources—or even from support at the state party convention, which is required to get on the primary ballot.

If you’re thinking to yourself right about now, “Yawn,” you’re right, but it’s also a whole lot of power in the hands of a “private entity.” The committee is required to abide by certain Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations and laws, so there’s no way to, say, conjure up a new committee with bylaws concocted out of thin air.

For months—make that, years—the MassGOP members have been bickering: suing each other, smearing each other, spreading lies (or maybe truths) about each other. He’s a RINO, one faction sneers. She’s a traitor, the other side retorts. Wash, rinse, repeat, ad infinitum.

The membership has become so dysfunctional that they’ve forgotten their purpose is to make your decisions for you. So no decisions are being made.

On Tuesday night in Marlborough, the committee will elect its Chair. Now, about three too many people are running for the position, and most registered MA voters don’t even know the position exists or what it does. Even so, the Facebook peanut galleries are red-hot with activity, positing about how “RINO”—“Republican In Name Only”—their enemies are and how “anti-establishment” their favored candidate for Chair is.

Funny, I see the state committee as the pinnacle of the establishment. The Yertles of the turtles.

The only way to undo the swampiness of the state committee would be to abolish the state committee. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. The two-party system is deeply entrenched, and someone will be the MassGOP Chair.

As a new resident of the Bay State and member of the 8.25%—that is, the percentage of registered Republicans—I wanted to see for myself what all the hullabaloo was about. So I attended the State Party Chair Candidate Zoom Forum this week.

Although the forum would’ve made for a lame drinking game, I would be remiss if I did not include the “Howie Carr” count: two. Well, two-and-a-half. “Who cares what he says about us!” was the general context. I’ll refrain from explaining the irony here.

What made the night even lamer was the lack of this highly buzzed-about Jim Lyons character, the incumbent 68-year-old Chair, who called in sick.

I witnessed 90 minutes of Calvin Coolidge invocations and some statements along the lines of “I remember watching Reagan’s Iran-Contra Address on the television!” Barely anything was said about reaching out to my generation, the one skewing elections toward socialist policy.

I heard very little about targeting the culture issues plaguing the Bay State, low-hanging fruit for attracting moderates. Some statements touched on mail-in ballots or providing information to no-info voters, but a lot of the conversation hovered around undoing the dysfunction.

Then—without even being present—Lyons secured a straw poll victory with 33% of the votes. People must really be tied to this guy.

The rest of the votes were spread among the other four candidates. If the consensus is to get the incumbent out—conclusive from the two-thirds of the people who voted against him—then there are currently “too many cooks in the kitchen,” as the saying goes.

Back to my ping pong analogy for one moment. If you can’t figure out who will be the best Table Tennis Secretary, forget about winning any tournaments—you won’t even be able to send a team. You can’t even practice after school.

From what I can tell, the state committee hasn’t done much else this entire month, if not longer, than talk about the election Tuesday night. Most voters have no idea this election is occurring, and time and money is being wasted on ridiculous high-school drama.

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