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Logo of the Massachusetts Republican Party

The Massachusetts Republican Party is the Massachusetts branch of the United States Republican Party. Governance of the party takes the form of a State Committee which, in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 52, consists of one man and one woman from each of the 40 Senate Districts of the Commonwealth, who are elected at the quadrennial election of Electors for President of the U.S. (commonly called the "Presidential Primary"). Committee officers are elected by the State Committee. The party's current Chairperson is Jennifer Nassour. Its current Vice-Chair is Jeanne Kangas.

Contents

Early history (1856-1950)

The Republican Party in Massachusetts was the dominant party in the state for nearly seventy years from (1858 through the 1920s). Republican candidates routinely won the state governorship as well as most other state and Federal offices. The Republican dominance of Massachusetts slowly died in 1920s and 1930s as predominantly Democratic immigrant groups changed the traditionally Republican WASP Massachusetts into the Catholic Democratic majority state that it remains today. Additionally helping the Democratic take-over of Massachusetts was the high unionization of workers in the state, coupled with the onset of the Great Depression and the rise of the New Deal Democrats. By the 1950s, most of the urban-suburban areas of Massachusetts were largely Democratic, leaving just a couple pockets of strongly Republican rural areas in Barnstable, Nantucket, Dukes, Bristol, Berkshire, and Franklin Counties.

The Late 20th Century (1950-1990)

Senator Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. (1937-1944, 1947-1953)

In the 1950s, the influential Kennedy Family worked its way into the leadership of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, and helped guide the Democrats into multiple consecutive victories, much at the expense of the Republican Party. In 1952, JFK defeated Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. for the US Senate, ending the Republican Cabot-Lodge dynasty that had dominated Massachusetts politics since the Revolutionary War. JFK soon after would again lead the Democratic Party, becoming the successful 1960 Democratic candidate for President, and in doing so delivering Massachusetts solidly to the Democrats on the Federal level until 1980, when Ronald Reagan won Massachusetts, a feat he repeated in 1984. The fiscally conservative, and largely Rockefeller Republicans of Massachusetts would slowly lose power in the next 24 years, losing their last US Senate seat to Paul Tsongas in 1978, and five US House of Representatives seats in the same period. On the state level, Democrats would take super-majorities in both houses of the State Legislature, and would dominate the Governorship for twenty-two years out of the thirty-four year period from 1957 to 1990.

Modern Era (1980-Today)

In 1980, the Republican Ronald Reagan for the first time since 1956, would win the Presidential Election in Massachusetts, ushering in what appeared to be a new hope for Republicans in the state. In 1990, due to the unpopularity of then Gov. Michael Dukakis at the end of his last term in office due to the end of the Massachusetts Miracle, Republicans were able under the leadership of William Weld to capture the governor's office for the first time since 1973, and erase Democratic super-majorities in the state legislature. However, the Republican renaissance in Massachusetts largely folded in 1996 when the popularity of then President Bill Clinton derailed Republican efforts, costing them a chance at the US Senate seat of John Kerry, most of their gains in the State Legislature, and both of their newly gained seats in the US House of Representatives. However, despite losses in all other significant races in the state, the Massachusetts Republican Party was able to maintain control over the Governor's office. In fact, between 1990 and 2006 the corner office had been consistently held by a number of Republicans, most recently including former 2008 Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. In 2004, the party tried its chances to make gains in the State Legislature under the lead and popularity of Mitt Romney, however, instead the party ended up losing seats. The party was largely criticized for being unorganized, and favoring candidates monetarily that were closer to the moderate leadership of the party. The party is also criticized for the continued hemorrhaging of party registration among voters in the state. 2006 data shows that now only 12.50% of registered voters in Massachusetts consider themselves "Republicans".[1] Polls of active voters by SurveyUSA suggest that 34% of active voters consider themselves Democrats, 16% Republican, and 50% unenrolled.

On January 19, 2010, the Party had a rare moment of victory when Republican nominee Scott Brown defeated Democratic nominee Martha Coakley during a special election to fill the Senate seated left vacant by the death of Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, becoming the first Republican senator to be elected in Massachusetts since 1972.

Current Elected Officials

U.S. Senators: Scott Brown

Massachusetts Statewide Officers:

  • None

State Legislative Leaders:

Control of the State Legislature

  • Seats Held in the State House of Representatives: 16 (10%)
  • Seats Held in the State Senate: 5 (12.5%)

Members of the United States Congress:

  • None

2006 Election

In 2006, Massachusetts held elections for the US Senate, US House, Statewide Offices, minor County Offices, and the State Legislature. The party actively contested Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy in the 2006 United States Senate election. However, Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy sought re-election, making the takeover of the seat very difficult. Two Republicans sought the nomination from the party. The first was former Wakefield selectman Kevin Scott, who enjoyed support from the more moderate wing of the party. However, on September 19, 2006, he was defeated in the primary by 2004 congressional candidate Kenneth Chase of Belmont, who became the party's endorsed and nominated candidate. The campaign between Kennedy and Chase was largely quiet, and the two only engaged in a controlled 30-minute debate. In the General election Senator Kennedy defeated Chase by a 69%-31% margin.

The US House elections in Massachusetts for 2006 were largely uncontested. In fact, 5 of the 10 incumbents did not face a candidate at all. The Republicans only put up three candidates for the US House. In the 6th District, airline pilot and political newcomer Rick Barton challenged incumbent Democrat John F. Tierney. This race was generally considered safe for the Democrat; however, between 1993 and 1997 a Republican (former Representative Peter Torkildsen) held the seat. Tierney defeated Barton by a 70%-30% margin. In the 9th District, Republicans were surprised when tarnished 2000 US Senate nominee and 2002 Secretary of State nominee Jack E. Robinson got on the ballot to face incumbent Democrat Stephen Lynch in what is one of Massachusetts' safest Democratic districts. Lynch ended up defeating Robinson 78%-22%. The final race featured Republican Jeff Beatty, who ran in the 10th District, arguably the most Republican district in the State, against incumbent Democrat Bill Delahunt; this race too, however, was considered safely Democratic and rightfully so, as Delahunt cruised to a 65%-29% victory with Left-Wing Independent Peter White taking 6%.

The Republicans did have a more competitive race however in the defense of the open Governorship. In the 2006 Governor's Race Republican Lt. Gov Kerry Healey ran to replace out-going Republican Governor Mitt Romney. She faced an uphill battle because of the disapproval of Governor Romney's administration, and faced the winner of the Democratic Primary, Deval Patrick. However, complicating matters this time around was the candidacy of former-Republican Christy Mihos, who ended up taking 7% of the vote, which most political analysts believe would have gone to Healey without him. However, Healey ran a tough campaign against Patrick, claiming he was both weak on crime, and sympathetic to murderers. The ad campaign she ran to accompany this rhetoric was initially successful, however it ultimately backfired, and distracted voters away from some of Healey's other policy positions. In the end Healey, and the Republicans lost the Governorship by a 56% to 35% margin, with 7% to Moderate Independent Christy Mihos, and 2% to Green-Rainbow Party candidate Grace Ross.

The Republicans only managed to contest the open Attorney General position in 2006 amongst all the other statewide offices. Larry Frisoli attempted to pull off a huge upset for the Republicans in defeating popular Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley but ultimately failed in a low-key campaign 73%-27%.

As for the county and legislative races, the Republicans ran so few candidates that the Democrats were already assured control of the State House and the State Senate, and the Republicans continued their slide, losing two seats in the House and one seat in the Senate. The few county elections almost all involved Democrats running unopposed, though former State Senate Minority Leader Brian P. Lees did manage to pick up the Clerk of Courts position in Hampden County.

As a whole however, 2006 marked, like it did for Republicans across the country, a year in decline.

Current Staff

Chairwoman - Jennifer Nassour
Executive Director - Nick Connors
Communications Director - Tarah Donoghue
Political Director - Vacant
Finance Director - Will Walker

See also

External links

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