Must RGA try so hard in Massachusetts gov race? 

The Republican Governor’s Association exists in order to elect Republicans. So there’s no question about which side the RGA and its chairman, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, are on in the three way race between Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, D, liberal Republican Charlie Baker, and Tim Cahill, the state treasurer who is a Democrat-turned-Independent.

The state of the race right now is that Cahill, arguably the most conservative candidate, is beginning to eclipse Baker in some polls. Patrick holds a slim lead over both, but ultimately either Cahill or Baker will likely reach a tipping point and defeat Patrick, who is considered one of the worst governors in America today.

Naturally, the RGA is going to back Baker, the Republican, even though he is a liberal with an even more liberal running mate (the sponsor of the state’s “Transgender Bathroom” bill). That’s to be expected. But the question a lot of Republicans and conservatives have to be asking is: Does Barbour really have to try so hard on this one?

As of this moment, the RGA has spent about $1 million attacking Cahill. This has prompted Cahill political director Jordan Gehrke to write a blog post titled “Guess Haley Barbour doesn’t want to be President after all.” Cahill’s campaign also released this scathing web video that throws every anti-Southern stereotype you can imagine at Barbour:

The result so far has been a war of words between Cahill’s consultant and the RGA, which Ben Smith discusses here at Politico.

I receive RGA’s press releases regularly, so I went back and divided them up by topic. I think you get some idea of what’s going on just by looking at the top ten over a two-month period:

Miscellaneous issue and fundraising announcements: 9 press releases

Massachusetts governor’s race: 8

California governor’s race: 5

Ohio governor’s race: 4

Nevada governor’s race: 4

Colorado governor’s race: 3

Florida governor’s race: 3

Vermont governor’s race: 2

Minnesota/Iowa/Illinois/Arkansas/Maryland governor’s races: 1 each

By this measure, the Massachusetts race appears to be the top priority. RGA rightly smells Patrick’s blood in the water, and they are probably operating on the assumption that they need to snuff out Cahill’s candidacy early on, before he picks up steam.

But you also have to think that the contests in Minnesota, Colorado, Ohio, Illinois, and California are much more important in terms of (1) winning a seat at (or possibly dominating) the all-important gerrymandering table in 2011 and (2) keeping potential future Democratic presidential material (think Hickenlooper in Colorado) out of governors’ mansions nationwide.

In Massachusetts, on the other hand,  Democrats control nine-tenths of the state House and seven-eighths of the state Senate. All of those other governor’s races are somewhat competitive and probably deserve more attention than Massachusetts.

About The Author

David Freddoso

David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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