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September 21, 2015 / needhamgrassroots

Where’s the Party? Notes from MassDems Convention 2015

sleepy donkey

Needham Democratic Delegates drove out to Springfield this past weekend to hear from high-ranking members of the party and to talk about issues important to the Party’s agenda.


 

From Commonwealth Mag –

Baker gets a pass from Dems 

If the state’s Republican governor — he of the sky-high poll numbers, the cabinet littered with Democrats, and a bromantic attachment to Boston’s union-bred mayor — was going to get bloodied up even just a bit for his party label, it should have happened on Saturday in Springfield.

That’s where the state Democratic Party held its sleepy off-year annual convention. It’s a place where throwaway lines about evil-doing Republicans should flow as freely as the beer at convention parties that may be the bigger draw for some delegates.

So is Charlie Baker feeling a little woozy and dazed from all the partisan pummeling?

Hardly. The governor must be thinking: If the noises from Springfield be the music of the fearsome opposition, play on!

The Democrats made sure to get their bash-a-Republican ticket punched. But they did so, Josh Miller reported in Sunday’s Globe, by laying into Donald Trump (Elizabeth Warren) or by branding the whole GOP presidential field a collection of “crackpots” (Howard Dean). But Miller says there was “scarcely a peep of public criticism aimed at a Republican closer to home: Governor Charlie Baker.

At this point, Baker is riding high in terms of popular support and the Democrats have no obvious standard-bearer positioning to take him on three years from now. All of that makes it hard to mount a frontal assault.

An Associated Press story on the morning of the convention referred to it, from the the Dems’ perspective, as “the problem of Charlie Baker.”

Baker was subjected to more of an obligatory jab or two than passion-filled roundhouse punches. It fell to the state party chairman, Tom McGee, to denounce some cuts Baker made to education and economic development. And state AFL-CIO president, Steve Tolman, criticized a Baker move to streamline state regulations.

But the party faithful were otherwise holding back. That seemed particularly true of Newton Mayor Setti Warren, touted by some as a potential future gubernatorial candidate. Warren resisted offering an assessment of Baker’s first year, but then said his gauge is “how our interface is with the administration,” and he rated that as good.

Mayors need to get things done, and they often need help and cooperation from the state to do so. That makes Setti Warren’s job, like that of Marty Walsh, often more one of pragmatism than partisan politics.

On Friday, the Globe’s David Scharfenberg wrote that Baker has been able to maintain his popularity by focusing on the workings of state government and largely steering clear of hot-button ideological issues. “Can he remain the Fixer-in-Chief for the rest of his time in office,” asked Scharfenberg, or will Baker eventually need to deploy his popularity to advance “a big, daring, proactive agenda?”

At Saturday’s convention, writes Miller, Secretary of State Bill Galvin said he’s seen “no bold vision” so far from Baker. “Cautious doesn’t always succeed in the long term,” he said.

Perhaps. But it’s working well so far.

–MICHAEL JONAS
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