Like a championship team whose top rivals are nowhere in their class, it appears that US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) will be facing off against a member of the GOP B-team next year. Apparently, the days of Republicans recruiting main-event players (Mitt Romney in 1994, Bill Weld in 1996) to challenge the Bay State’s senators are over.

Romney loyalist Beth Lindstrom has now officially launched her effort to unseat Warren, and hilariously, her campaign is trying to promote the idea that she’s an “independent-minded Republican.” Of course, “independent-minded Republicans,” like unicorns and fairies, don’t actually exist, so who the hell is Lindstrom trying to fool?

Lindstrom’s approach appears to align her with the brand of Massachusetts Republicanism that, historically, has been markedly more moderate than the national party.

“As an independent-minded Republican, I will oppose President Trump when he’s wrong,” Lindstrom said in a press release. “His response to what happened in Charlottesville should have encouraged the people of this country with a message of zero tolerance for ethnic or racial prejudice. This is not an occasion for equivocation or evasion. Let me be clear: the hatred spewed by white supremacists and neo-Nazis is ugly and bigoted.”

It’s also Republican, which is why Lindstrom is such a transparent fraud. By the way, why would Bay State voters support someone who will, by virtue of their party affiliation, inevitably have to genuflect to this grotesque President, rather than someone who will oppose him with, shall we say, fire and fury?

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Of course, it isn’t hard to tell what’s really going on here:

Lindstrom will be at least the fourth Republican candidate actively campaigning or moving toward a run against Warren. All the others are men: Shiva Ayyadurai, state Representative Geoff Diehl, and businessman John Kingston.

Both Kingston and Lindstrom have staked out more moderate, GOP establishment turf, while Diehl and Ayyadurai have sought populist approaches and voiced backing for Trump…

The Groton resident was executive director of the state lottery in the 1990s and was the first female executive director of the state Republican Party. She was former US senator Scott P. Brown’s campaign manager during his stunning 2010 special-election victory.

In 2014, Lindstrom led Commonwealth Future, a super PAC supporting [Massachusetts Governor] Charlie Baker.

As noted previously, it appears that the idea behind this campaign is to ensure that Diehl, who has the support of the hardcore wingnuts who dominate the Massachusetts GOP, is ultimately denied the party’s nomination. Don’t be surprised if Kingston, who also has ties to Romney, drops out of the race to bolster Lindstrom’s chances of beating Diehl. The Massachusetts Republican establishment is apparently scared to death that having Diehl on the ticket next to Baker will imperil Baker’s re-election chances next year. Diehl as US Senate nominee would remind Bay Staters of how fundamentally unhinged the party Diehl and Baker belong to really is; Lindstrom might not arouse as much anger.

The problem for Bay State Republicans is that no matter which mediocrity becomes the party’s Senate nominee, they won’t be able to come up with a compelling message. Warren will argue that her voice is needed to fight forcefully against Washington wingnuttery, something a member of the wingnut party can only do occasionally at best; she will also provide a boost to the state Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nominee, declaring at unity rallies that Massachusetts needs a progressive Democratic governor, not an alleged moderate Republican, to fix the state’s remaining problems. It could turn out that for Romney, Baker and the rest of the Massachusetts GOP establishment, nothing can solve the problems Trump and the radical national party have created for them.

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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.