Reflecting on fractures within the party he leads, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday that he is "not surprised" that historically loyal donors are having second thoughts about giving to the GOP.
At a press conference on future of work trends, Baker was asked about fissures in the party. The Republican State Committee under party chairman Jim Lyons has focused on supporting Donald Trump and pushing many of the same issues as the former president, while moderates like Baker and many Republican lawmakers remain locked in on bipartisanship and trying to work with the Democrats who control most elected offices in Massachusetts.
Baker said many elected Republicans in Massachusetts, including former officeholders, "don't believe many of the recent decisions and statements that have been made by the leadership at the state party are consistent with where we believe most Republicans are generally."
"I mean, the State Committee at the end of the day, needs to make decisions about the state party apparatus," Baker said. "That's their role. That's their responsibility. But I'm not surprised that a number of folks who have been loyal, generous donors and supporters to the party, have raised serious concerns about some of the things that have been coming out of the State Committee and I hope they address them."
The Boston Herald on Monday and the Boston Globe on Tuesday reported that 16 people who said they collectively gave more than $900,000 to support the party's mission will stop giving to the party unless it makes major changes. Lyons told the Herald the letter was "unfortunate and misguided," said he would sit down with anyone who signed it, and said most of the donors who signed on had not donated to the MassGOP since before he took the helm in 2019.
In a fundraising email on Monday, Lyons described critical race theory as "blatant racism" and said that "for far too long, Massachusetts Republicans have been afraid to wade into so-called 'cultural issues.' "
Last week, Lyons announced a push to place on the 2022 ballot an initiative petition that would require voters to present identification in order to prove their identity at the ballot box. The party has also been rounding up volunteers to help place on next year's ballot a question that would repeal the 2020 law, passed in December over Baker's veto, that codified the right to an abortion in state law, made the procedure more accessible by expanding access for women after 24 weeks of pregnancy, and lowered the age of consent for an abortion to 16.
Republican State Committee member Geoff Diehl, a Trump supporter who has aligned himself with Lyons and preached a "message of common-sense conservatism" while serving as MassGOP finance chair, launched a run for governor this month. Party officials have also knocked GOP legislators and said that about 20 members of the state committee work for the Baker administration and are "not necessarily voting for the good of the Republican party."