Massachusetts Republicans are staying the course with Chairman Jim Lyons as they look to not only stop the “downhill slide” of a party increasingly in the minority in a heavily blue state but work to grow their ranks.
Members of the Massachusetts Republican State Committee handed Lyons another two years as chairman on Sunday in a slim 39-36 vote over challenger Shawn Dooley, a state representative from Norfolk.
Lyons, a conservative who’s closely aligned the party’s messaging to that of President Trump, told the Herald he sees his win as an endorsement of that brand of politics.
“This is a commitment from this party and recognition that people want to build the party and I intend to harness that,” Lyons said.
Lyons plans to be “laser-focused on down-ticket races” in his second term in order to build the party’s presence statewide.
“We need Republicans in school committee seats, select board seats, city council seats, mayor seats,” the former state legislator said. “We need to do that to build the Legislature and have to make a commitment to that long-term.”
State Committeeman Todd Taylor said that strategy will be “critical” to growing party numbers after the GOP lost five seats on Beacon Hill in 2020 and Republican voter enrollment remained under 10% of the state’s total.
“In the next 10 years, our goal is to be challenging for majority in the Legislature,” Taylor said.
Committeewoman Amanda Orlando, another Lyons supporter, said she’s confident the party can grab more support from unenrolled voters through the chairman’s messaging.
“He’s set a new course for the party, which is important,” she said.
Dooley, who’d pitched a “hard reset” for the party to help “capture that middle ground as opposed to going far hard-right” after the GOP’s losses and fundraising woes, told the Herald he was “disappointed” by the vote.
“We’re virtually bankrupt and (Lyons has) virtually destroyed any relationship whatsoever with the Baker administration,” Dooley said. “I just don’t see the path that our party is on being able to be a viable path.”
But Dooley said he’s willing to work with Lyons, adding, “Hopefully I’m wrong and hopefully (Lyons) turns things around.”
No sooner were the ballots tallied from the drive-in vote at the Littleton distribution center of 1A Auto — the company co-founded by 2018 GOP congressional candidate Rick Green — than the calls began to unite a fractured party that some members say has further splintered amid the rift between the Lyons and Gov. Charlie Baker wings. It’s a divide that deepened in late November when Lyons asked five state and federal agencies to investigate the state party’s financial operations under his predecessors, including Baker allies.
Vice Chairman Tom Mountain said it’s time “to set aside petty differences and remember our very reason for being — to elect Republicans.”
Frank Ardinger, the state committeeman who nominated Dooley, said it’s “critically important” for Republicans to work together with the governor’s race and more looming races.
“Lyons stressed that in his acceptance speech,” Ardinger said. “The party has got to get together because if we don’t show improvement in 2022, I think the Massachusetts Republican Party is on a downhill slide.”
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