Heads of State: The Front Lines of the Resistance to Trump

Two weeks ago, I noted the shortsighted reasoning of Setti Warren, a likely Democratic challenger to faux-moderate Republican Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts; Warren insisted that there was merit in Democrats “reaching out” to those who voted for the noxious narcissist who currently occupies the White House, despite the fact that those who embraced Donald Trump obviously did so because they share the 45th President’s scorn for minorities and Muslims. Now, another Democrat has emerged as a challenger to Baker, and it appears that he does not buy into “bipartisan,” can’t-we-all-just-get-along nonsense:

Jay Gonzalez, who oversaw the state’s operating budget during the [Deval] Patrick administration…signaled that he would attempt to link Baker to President Trump, who lost the state badly in November and was the target of street protests Sunday and a week earlier.

“President Trump threatens our values and threatens to take us backward,” Gonzalez said in a press release. “Now more than ever, we need a governor who is going to stand up and fight for our values and fight to move us forward. I’ll be that governor. I’ll work with a sense of urgency to make sure that every working family has a fair shot for a better future.”

“I’m concerned that Governor Baker is too satisfied with the status quo, and he too often stands on the sidelines when we need him. He’s been a status quo, wait-and-see governor,” Gonzalez said.

Baker has taken some heat in recent days for his timidity regarding Trump; it’s obvious that Baker is trying to put some, but not too much, distance between himself and the leader of his party. Gonzalez’s rhetoric suggests that if elected, he will be the Bay State’s version of California Governor Jerry Brown–someone with a take-no-prisoners, give-no-mercy attitude towards the bigoted billionaire.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates across the country in 2017 and 2018 have a political and moral obligation to make it clear to voters that they will not kneel down in subservience to Trump–and that their Republican opponents are more than willing to be jesters in King Donald’s court. Republican governors, no matter how moderate they profess to be, simply cannot be trusted to stand up to Trump–and Democratic gubernatorial candidates who hesitate to tie their Republican opponents to Trump will lose and lose badly.

Speaking of Republicans and Trump, it’s fairly obvious why Baker cannot forcefully denounce the Donald:

If he seeks a second term as expected, Baker would go into the campaign with a massive cash advantage. As of Jan. 15, Baker, who has pioneered novel fund-raising techniques that have brought criticism from some good-government watchdogs, had more than $4.7 million in his campaign war chest. He will likely also be able to count on assistance from national Republicans. In 2014, when he beat Democrat Martha Coakley, Baker benefited from more than $11 million poured into the race by the Republican Governors Association.

But national Democrats are also likely to prioritize the Massachusetts governor’s race. Midterm elections frequently serve as referenda on presidents and sharing a party label with Trump could work to Baker’s detriment in deep-blue Massachusetts.

Republican governors seeking a second term, and Republican gubernatorial candidates seeking a first term, are for all intents and purposes sworn allies of Donald Trump and “Stone Cold” Steve Bannon. They own it all–the elimination of environmental protection, the discrimination against immigrants and religious minorities, the racism and radicalism and ridiculousness of this administration. Republican governors who recognize the destructiveness of the Donald do have an option. They can resign. Republican gubernatorial candidates who recognize the tyranny of Trump do have an option. They can run as independents. Or, these Republicans can remain affiliated with amorality–and risk the political consequences.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.