One for the win column
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, November 6, 2014


“... the thrill of victory ... and the agony of defeat ... the human drama” of political competition ... (borrowing from ABC’s Wide World of Sports)

Must begin with what I care about most: America may yet be saved for my grandchildren! Americans in general finally admitted the Obama mistake and moved to reclaim our future. Republicans took over the U.S. Senate, solidified the House and won Republican governors — including ours!

I have waited a few decades for Charlie Baker to become the governor of Massachusetts, and here he is! I have also waited a long time to see Martha Coakley depart the political landscape — and was not surprised to see her lack of grace in doing so, as she didn’t even address her supporters election night. Too bad that Baker/Polito supporters at their event didn’t get to hear Charlie announce their victory.

Tisei supporters at the 6th Congressional District event were sad that Richard lost, but we got to see a very gracious concession speech. Chip and I spent the evening with old friends and new; we can all be proud of our excellent candidate. This was just one of those unusual political dramas, with an attractive newcomer entering the scene by dramatically unseating a Democratic incumbent.

Question 1 passed; there will be no automatic gas tax hikes every year. Rep. Leah Cole deservedly won. Tom Lyons came close.

Unfortunately, very few of the incumbent Democrats who voted for the automatic gas tax hikes were defeated, though there were some good Republican candidates. I’ve never understood this oddity, as taxpayers have won other ballot questions while being unable to unseat the legislators who created the problem the initiative petition process had to fix.

In the rest of the country, Republicans control many state legislatures. But why dwell on other states? Those of us who still live here have chosen to put up with Massachusetts state politics; I’m sure I’m not the only one grateful today for not having moved to New Hampshire to “live free (then) die.” Places, like people, often change. In the old Granite State, Scott Brown would have won easily. Next year, Massachusetts will have a more “live free” governor than New Hampshire.

This is personally significant for me. I was 37 years old when Citizens for Limited Taxation led the 1980 ballot battle for Proposition 2½: Our ally was the Massachusetts High Technology Council. In order to help us keep this new statute, MHTC hired a communications guy — Charlie Baker, just out of college. It wasn’t long before some of us began looking forward to his eventual gubernatorial campaign.

Now I’m 71 years old. When I add up my career wins and losses, this one rounds out the good news for me. And, someday, I can relax into retirement, knowing that Charlie will continue to protect Proposition 2½. Will feel safer if he gets the ability to sustain a veto in the next election, though.

New Hampshire did elect Frank Guinta as a Republican congressman; Massachusetts still has none — though at least our liberal Democrats will have less influence than ever. It would have been wise to send at least one Republican to Washington. However, I wasn’t surprised by Seth Moulton’s win, figured this would happen when I saw his announcement in The Salem News last winter.

Though I remained enthusiastic in support of Tisei, I think Moulton could have won on his resumé alone. I did want to have a congressman I could respect, am disappointed that he had to resort to wild accusations about Tisei being radical right, anti-women and anti-veteran.

Never mind, I doubt that he’ll be my congressman for long. This is one ambitious young man; I predict he’ll run for U.S. Senate at the first opportunity, and eventually, like John Kerry, run for president.

I’ve always been torn about the “gracious concession speech.” It was nice of Tisei to tell us that he and Seth had become friends during the campaign (never mind the false accusations) and wish him well. Charlie was amazingly kind to Coakley as she refused to concede, gently chastising his supporters that “every vote must be counted.”

I’m not that nice. All politics is personal (or is that “local?” Never mind.), and I blame her for the fact that my friend Gerald Amirault is still forced to be on probation, ankle bracelet, fees and all, for a crime that never happened. Glad she lost and that we all got to see her true colors on her way out.

Years ago, in 1990, we taxpayers lost a ballot question to repeal a bunch of Dukakis tax hikes, including his “temporary” income tax rate increase. This one surprised me; I was certain we would win. When it was time to concede defeat, I was heading for the stage, planning to look directly into the TV cameras and say “What, voters, are you nuts?” when I was waylaid by Domenic Bozzotto of the Hotel Workers Union, a tax-cut ally at the time. He told me firmly that I would first accept the loss and then declare victory in that we had helped elect Bill Weld and Paul Celluci, and I did as told. But I’ve always regretted my good behavior — especially since we are still paying some of that “temporary” income tax hike, 25 years later.

Can still argue for being completely honest about a ballot question loss; it’s different when one’s own self was the loser, then graciousness is needed. Of course, I’ve never put myself in this position, never ran for office (not counting Danvers Town Meeting member in the early ’70s). So, let me close here today by expressing my admiration for those citizens who put themselves out there, into a very dusty, sometimes even muddy, arena, seeking our votes.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle-Tribune newspapers.

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