By: Brian Genest – April, 2020
It’s been a heck of a good year for the MassGOP and Chairman Jim Lyons. Our Republican Party has a Republican leader at the helm – a conservative who makes the now out-of-power establishment even weaker-kneed than usual. To make matters even better, Lyons has such strong support on the state committee that even his detractors have been stunningly silent these days.
From the night Lyons won the chairmanship last year with a majority vote of the state committee, he’s had the party establishment gasping for breath and grasping for words. Brent Anderson, the longtime party treasurer who challenged Lyons for the top job, was the first one to put his own foot in his big mouth. Anderson told the media beforehand that he had lined up enough votes to win, but that was fuzzy math. Lyons got 47 of the 80 votes, the establishment got defeated and overly-confident Anderson got publicly humiliated. After the loss, Anderson was missing from state committee meetings last year and he didn’t run for re-election this year.
Speaking of making an exit, no one made a faster one than Lyon’s predecessor, Kirsten Hughes.
With Anderson’s loss, Hughes and the guys from Gov. Charlie Baker’s campaign, who were running the MassGOP for years, lost control of the party, not to mention the cash being raised by the MassGOP and its affiliate, Mass Victory. On their way out the door, the defeated establishment took control of the MassGOP’s fundraising database. Lyons had to have party lawyers get involved to regain rightful access and shut out the Baker campaign’s bandits.
In the two years before her departure, Hughes and the MassGOP spent big money from party donors on a variety of questionable expenditures. Very questionable. Hughes oversaw a ton of cash flying out the door: There was more than $100,000 spent at fancy restaurants, including more than $30,000 at top steak houses, $164,000 in parking fees and $18,000 in Uber rides, among other things. At the same time, while the establishment lived it up, down-ticket Republican candidates mostly went without!
When Lyons shined a spotlight on the past spending practices, Hughes clammed up in true-hack fashion and refused to be interviewed by party lawyers or cooperate with an administrative review and financial audit of the MassGOP. Hughes wouldn’t participate in the investigation of the possible fraudulent and illegal use of MassGOP assets or the review of financial controls and transactions conducted by the party’s forensic accounting firm. In other words, Hughes was the perfect candidate for the $137,000 “job” she subsequently landed as a “special sheriff” in Norfolk County.
But Lyons came out a big winner as a result of the state committee races that were held on the Presidential Primary ballot in March. Despite public promises to fight for control of the 80-seat committee, Baker’s camp only managed to challenge about half the seats. And despite spending big money on political mailers and advertising funded by a Baker-backed PAC, the establishment lost ground and Lyons picked up about 10 more supporters on the state committee.
One of those supporters is Kathy Lynch, the new state committeewoman for the First Middlesex district of Lowell, Westford, Tyngsborough, Groton, Pepperrell and Groton. Lynch, chairman of the Westford Republican Town Committee, crushed establishment candidate Mary Burns of Lowell, a political dinosaur and Baker-appointed UMass Trustee who criticized Lyons and loves to post Facebook selfies with Bill Weld, Marty Meehan and Lori Trahan.
During the conference call meeting of the state committee this month, Lynch was part of the unanimous vote to affirm Lyons as chairman. Not one of his detractors objected, which would have resulted in a roll-call vote. Not one even cleared their throat, although I’m certain I heard a few eye rolls. Regardless, the way to be seen is to stand up, the way to be heard is to speak up and the way to be appreciated is to shut up, so let’s call it another win for Lyons, the MassGOP and our down-ticket candidates.
— Brian Genest is chairman of the Dracut Republican Town Committee and a member of the Massachusetts Republican State Committee representing the Second Essex & Middlesex district of Andover, Dracut, Lawrence and Tewksbury. ◊