MOST OF THE STATE’S state’s congressional representatives, who in the past have had generally nice things to say about Gov. Charlie Baker, attacked him on Wednesday, linking him to President Trump and his policies through his support for the GOP’s US Senate candidate in Massachusetts.
Baker says he didn’t vote for Trump and has often parted ways with him on health care, immigration, and even parts of his tax plan. But he has done so in a fairly low-key way, usually through letters and statements instead of angry denunciations at press conferences.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez and all but two members of the congressional delegation standing for reelection indicated on Wednesday that the time for such subtlety is past. They seized on Baker’s endorsement of the entire state GOP ticket, including Geoff Diehl in his race against Sen. Elizabeth Warren, as a sign that the governor supports the Trump agenda in Washington.
“I have a problem with supporting a Republican tax scam. I have a problem with supporting a government in Washington that works only for the wealthy and well connected. This truly is a moment of conscience for all of us,” Warren told reporters.
Asked if Baker was supportive of those Republican policies, Warren said: “He’s saying he wants to send people to Washington who will help advance the agenda of Donald Trump. That’s exactly what’s happening here. No one is trying to hide the ball here. This is a question of who represents the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts down in Washington. Is it those who are going to advance the agenda of Donald Trump or is it those who think we need a different agenda in Washington.”
Terry MacCormack, a spokesman for the Baker campaign, suggested the governor is no fan of Trump. “Gov. Baker did not vote for President Trump; has consistently disagreed with and advocated against federal policies misaligned with the best interests of the Commonwealth on issues like healthcare, immigration, and climate change; and remains focused on running his own campaign by communicating directly with Massachusetts’ voters about his administration’s bipartisan record of results,” MacCormack said in a statement.
The Baker campaign did not address why the governor endorsed Diehl, who chaired Trump’s 2016 Massachusetts campaign and has promised to be a strong partner of the president in Washington. Baker and Diehl both attended a unity breakfast in Plymouth County over the weekend.
US Rep. Richard Neal, who has often spoke highly of Baker, said after the press conference that Gonzalez would make an excellent governor. Asked if Gonzalez would be a better governor than Baker, Neal repeated: “I think he would make an excellent governor.” He added: “I’m a Democrat, I’ve always embraced the Democratic nominee.”
Ayanna Presley, who defeated US Rep. Michael Capuano in last week’s Democratic primary, said she doesn’t put much stock in polls that show Baker way ahead of Gonzalez. “There is a shift occurring. The ground is shifting beneath our feet,” she said from personal experience. “The hate coming out of this White House, and our complicitness in the corner office here to that hate, it cannot be defeated by a vote. It can only be defeated by a movement.”
Gus Bickford, the head of the state Democratic Party, said a coordinated campaign by Massachusetts Democrats seeking federal and state offices will be key to building the type of turnout needed to defeat Republicans. He said the coordinated campaign currently has a 45-person staff and $1.7 million in the bank, $1 million of it provided by Warren. “We have never seen this before,” Bickford said.
Gonzalez said the congressional delegation is leading the fight against Trump and his policies in Washington, but a Democratic governor is needed to fight for those same issues in Massachusetts. He said the state needs a governor who will fight against Trump policies affecting women; students; immigrants; unions; gun control advocates; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and queer people.
“Not just reluctantly, but wholeheartedly, I will be that governor,” Gonzalez said. “While I will operate from the head, I will lead from the heart.”
Gonzalez, who has proposed a large number of expensive policies dealing with education, transportation, and single-payer health care, said he will be more forthcoming in the days ahead about how he will pay for all of his initiatives. He indicated he would push for higher taxes on the wealthy. “I will not be asking lower-income people, middle-income people to pay more,” he said.
He said Baker supports the status quo. “If voters are happy and satisfied with the status quo, then they should vote for Charlie Baker,” he said.
Even though Democrats control both branches of the Legislature and most of the state’s constitutional offices, Quentin Palfrey, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, said taking back the governor’s office is crucial. “If we can take back the corner office, and we absolutely can, Massachusetts can do things that other states can only dream of,” he said.
US Reps. Jim McGovern, Katherine Clark, and Joseph Kennedy III also attended the press conference Wednesday at the Democrats’ coordinated campaign office in Dorchester. US Reps. Seth Moulton and Stephen Lynch, who are both seeking reelection, did not attend.