The numbers of registered Republicans has dropped to 11 percent, but a group of GOP faithful met at Conley’s Pub Tuesday night to rebuild the party from the ground up.
The gathering marked the kickoff of Watertown’s Steve Aylward’s campaign for State Committeeman from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District. The Republican State Committee has a man and a woman from each state senate district, and it sets the strategy for getting GOP candidates elected to offices from the town boards to statewide offices.
For many at Conley’s the last straw was the 2010 election, when the Massachusetts Republicans spent most of the money to help Charlie Baker’s campaign for governor, while largely ignoring the legislative races and other statewide races.
“The (Republican Committee) consistently abandons us to support one person, like Mitt Romney, Scott Brown and Charlie Baker,” said Aylward, who is the Chairman of the Watertown Republican Town Committee. “I don’t begrudge them, but we need to grow as a party.”
The Mass. GOP spent about $3 million on Baker, recalls Alex Veras, a candidate for State Committeeman from Haverhill, while spending $98,000 on all the other races in the state in 2010.
“We spent $3 million to help Baker, who in no poll ever led (the governor’s race),” Veras said. “Baker had no infrastructure, no local level support. He thought he would pull a Scott Brown.”
Rob Aufiero of Melrose, who is running for State Committeeman, said he believes Mary Z. Connaughton or Karen Polito could have won their 2010 races for Auditor and Treasure, respectively, had the state Republicans thrown more support behind them.
Jon DiMascio, a member of the Watertown Republican Town Committee, said the Mass. GOP needs to be more like a pro baseball organization with a farm system to build young prospects.
“It’s less of an ideological thing. It is about having grass roots for the party,” DiMascio said. “We need to get people elected to other offices, not just the glamour ones (like governor).”
Aylward is one of 43 newcomers running for state committeeman or committeewoman, this year. He is facing incumbent and fellow Watertown resident Robert Semonian.
The gathering drew candidates from as near as Waltham, Belmont, Cambridge and Newton, and as far as Bristol County, and the North Shore.
Also in attendance were Gerry Dembrwoski, who is running against Ed Markey for the Fourth Congressional District (which includes Watertown) and Bill Hudak, a Republican running in the Sixth Congressional District against incumbent Democrat John Tierney.
Maintaining GOP Values
Hudak said Republicans in the Bay State must stop trying to be like the Democrats and stick to the conservative values of the GOP.
“The (state) Republican party has abandoned a lot of the values of the Republican Party, conservative Republicans,” Hudak said. “I am very proud to stand up and say I am pro-life, pro family. We should teach children the values of hard work, honesty and integrity.”
Watertown remains more Democratic that Republican, which makes it hard to elect a GOP candidate State Representative, or even as a Town Councilor, said Russ Arico, a Watertown Republican. He hopes a grass-roots push statewide will help get more Republicans elected to the State House.
“The State House is all Democrats,” Arico said. “Like anything else, with one party rule things become slanted in one direction.”
The State Committeeman election will be held March 6, during the Massachusetts Presidential Primary.
Along with his race for State Committeeman, Aylward will be running the Scott Brown for Senate group in Watertown.