You have to have some sympathy for the state’s politically conservative newspaper, the Boston Herald. Keeping up the spirits of its readership is tough. Today’s Front page story (which is actually an op-ed) is illustrative. It reports that Massachusetts Dems are fearful of Scott Brown as a potential candidate for John Kerry’s seat, but are even “more” afraid of Brown as as gubernatorial candidate in 2014.
The reality is that the state’s Dems have nothing to fear from Brown as a US Senate candidate, and the Democrats on Beacon Hill would probably be just fine with Scott Brown in the corner office. Republican governors, despite the Herald’s dramatic claim to the contrary, are not much of a threat to the State’s majority party. In fact, the Beacon Hill leadership tends to get along quite well with Republican governors, who provide for them a very useful fall guy and punching bag, without posing much threat to public policy.
The party designation of the governor in Massachusetts is far less significant than in many other states because the state legislature is controlled by fiscally conservative and socially liberal Democrats. The state’s business community has no desire to be held hostage by social conservatives. Why on earth would they want Republican control of Beacon Hill when they can buy a Democratic legislature that protects them from economic progressives and social conservatives?
In Massachusetts, the occasional Republican governor is politically useful for elite interests on both sides of the isle. The odd men out in Massachusetts politics are the economic progressives and the social conservatives, who (conveniently for the elite partisans) will NEVER join forces.