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SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – It was by far one of the more excited crowds I’ve seen in years, as little Brody’s Diner on Hartford Turnpike in Shrewsbury hosted an announcement that is sure to reverberate through the Commonwealth. This morning, Shrewsbury’s own hometown leader Karyn Polito announced that she and Charlie Baker will be running on the ticket together in the upcoming Gubernatorial election. For many, this was a long overdue event that they’d actually hoped for three years earlier, when Karyn first introduced Mr. Baker to many here in Central Massachusetts at an event she hosted at Worcester Country Club. In the end, Baker selected Richard Tisei as his running mate, in a move that surprised many, largely due to the fact that both were from the North Shore area, and some wondered what Tisei was going to be able to deliver that Baker didn’t already have. For this run, the Baker campaign has made the same right choice that many feel vaulted Deval Patrick to victory, which was selecting a prominent leader that could deliver the central part of the state.
The two have been friends for many years, and both consider themselves disciples of former Governor, the late Paul Cellucci, who was actually the first to recruit Karyn for statewide office. The ticket itself seems like a great fit politically, as both candidates highlight their particular goals of fair taxation, smaller government, stronger schools and health care systems. In many ways, tickets like this transcend the normal political party lines, which is usually what it takes to get elected to statewide office here in Massachusetts. While some reporters in the audience seemed to want to identify either or both candidates with the “Tea Party,” for better or worse, neither was taking the bait, and instead spoke of being “fiscally” conservative, but also passionate about a host of social issues that might fall outside the realm of what others might define as the far right. In the end, that will be the key to the ticket, should it be successful. One reporter, for example, asked Mr. Baker if he was bringing Ms. Polito on board to appease the far right members of the base, and yet personally I think that’s about as far from either his intent, or a realistic objective, as possible. In the end, it is not, in my opinion, the conservative base that the ticket needs to be concerned with. After all, when presented with options, who else are they going to vote for? Rather the secret here lies in appealing to the centrists in Massachusetts, and in recognizing that the larger base of voters are people who are “fiscally conservative” and “socially liberal.” Initially, that was the approach that vaulted Scott Brown to victory in the senate race, namely getting a lifelong Democrat to walk into a polling booth excited about his candidacy and how it would improve social issues, while at the same time making sure the Republican voters saw him as the fiscally conservative choice. In the Baker-Polito ticket, they may have found that perfect recipe at last.
To those of us here in Shrewsbury, Karyn has long been more than just our Selectman, and of course our State Representative, running unopposed for 10 full years. She has been a friend…whether personally, in being there for many of us and our families when we needed her most, or professionally, advocating for Shrewsbury on Beacon Hill on a host of issues. For the Commonwealth as a whole, she has been a passionate advocate for children, as the driving force behind Megan’s Law, and a strong supporter of the Jimmy Fund, pioneering the now ubiquitous Red Sox license place which raised huge amounts of funds to support the Jimmy Fund in it’s work to combat childhood cancers.
Three years ago, she made a run for State Treasurer, and as was pointed out several times during this mornings breakfast meeting, actually received more votes than Mr. Baker did, with wide-spread support from one end of the state to the other. Of course that was then and this is now, and no doubt both Candidates learned many things from their past experiences, which will enable them to hone their message in the upcoming months as they roll out their vision for the Commonwealth of the future. One thing for sure, this will probably be one of the smartest ticket ever to run in a state level election. Karyn graduated as valedictorian of her high school class, going on to Boston College and then Law School, before returning to head up her three generation family business here in Shrewsbury. Charlie Baker attended Harvard, and then business school at Northwestern, ultimately becoming CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Whether or not one agrees with them on each and every issue, you have to admit that they probably have the combined IQ to think the problem through from start to finish.
For more information on the campaign, you can visit their website at www.karynpolitoforlg.com