GOP Hopes For New Coalition On Beacon Hill

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Massachusetts Republicans failed to win any statewide office or congressional seat this election, but they did manage to double their numbers in the state's House of Representatives. The Republicans took 16 more seats, upping their total to 32.

It's clear from meeting Republicans Nick Boldyga, Matt Beaton and Rich Bastien that they share a common desire to change Beacon Hill.

Rep. Rich Bastien at his now-closed campaign office in Gardner (Fred Thys/WBUR)
Rep. Rich Bastien at his now-closed campaign office in Gardner (Fred Thys/WBUR)

Bastien wrestles a utility trailer through the front door of his campaign office on Gardner's sloping main street. His 7-year-old son, Sean, holds the door.

"Daddy, why do we need the trailer?" Sean asks.

"We needed the trailer to put the sign in, remember? We had a sign up at the park the other day, in the back of the trailer?"

The other day, Bastien was picking Sean up at school and found him talking to his teachers.

"What did you tell them?" Bastien asks his son.

"I told them that you want to raise tax..." Sean starts to say.

"No..." Bastien says, correcting his son.

"I mean lower taxes — lower taxes, create jobs and be in the local district," Sean answers.

Bastien says he and his new colleagues from central Massachusetts plan to meet to help struggling businesses in their part of the state.

"I sense among the newly elected state representatives a real desire to get in and work now," Bastien says. "We want to hit the ground running in January."

Rep. Matt Beaton at the house he's building in Shrewsbury (Fred Thys/WBUR)
Rep. Matt Beaton at the house he's building in Shrewsbury (Fred Thys/WBUR)

Bastien and his fellow new Republicans hope they can form a coalition to stop taxes from rising.

"There are some conservative Democrats," Bastien says. "I know I have spoken to a few of them personally. They had to vote party-line before. If we control 20 percent and we can get maybe 10 to 15 percent of the fiscally conservative Democrats that also see that taxes are too high, I think that we can hold the fort on higher taxes."

Matt Beaton is another newly elected Republican from central Massachusetts. He's a contractor who specializes in building energy-efficient homes. We go to his favorite room in the house he is building for his growing family in Shrewsbury. The pine room feels like a cabin.

"I love fly fishing particularly," Beaton says. "There's something about being in a stream in the middle of the woods and the water running through your legs."

An antique fly fishing rod he bought at the Brimfield fair hangs on the wall. Like Bastien, Beaton also wants to hold the line on taxes.


"We just have an open checkbook out there," Beaton says, "and we're just firing around money that's very hard-earned by a lot of hard-working taxpayers, and I just want to make sure that those dollars are being spent in the most wisely, most efficient manner possible."

We meet our final freshman Republican out in western Massachusetts, in Southwick. Nicholas Boldyga stands on the shore of Lake Congamond, where he lives. Many of the businesses along the shore have closed for the season. A few yellow maple leaves hang on the trees.

Rep. Nicholas Boldyga, by Lake Congamond in Southwick (Fred Thys/WBUR)
Rep. Nicholas Boldyga, by Lake Congamond in Southwick (Fred Thys/WBUR)

Boldyga represents four towns: Agawam, Granville, Russell and Southwick. For four years after college, Boldyga served as a police officer. He says he wants to go to Boston to preserve essential services such as police and schools while cutting everywhere else.

"So when people are losing their jobs at home, they can't pay their mortgage, they can't pay their rent, they're having difficulty sending their kids to college, and then they see local town governments or state governments with out-of-control spending and it's their tax dollars and they're struggling at home, they don't understand the mindset of their legislators," Boldyga says.

Boldyga and the other new Republican representatives we met hope to bring a new mindset to Beacon Hill: one that keeps money going to cities and towns, but pushes austerity in everything else.


This program aired on November 10, 2010.

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Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.



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