Baker chooses Tisei for lieutenant governor
Republican Charles D. Baker has chosen Senate minority leader Richard R. Tisei to join him in the gubernatorial race.
"Throughout his career in public service, Richard has built a solid voting record as a fiscal conservative and a reformer of state government," said Baker at the formal announcement of his selection in Tisei's hometown of Wakefield Nov. 23. "If, on Election Day, the people of this Commonwealth stand behind our vision for helping future generations put their stake in the ground and pursue their dreams at home in Massachusetts, Richard Tisei will help the Baker Administration get the job done."
If elected, Tisei would be the first openly gay person to win statewide office in Massachusetts.
Patrick Guierriero, an openly gay Republican chosen by Jane Swift to run as lieutenant governor in 2002, views Baker's selection as the next logical step in a state that is growing ever more welcoming to the LGBT community. "It speaks volumes to the fact that we've reached a point where individuals are selected on their character and their political credentials, and not their sexual orientation," he said.
In the eight years since he was chosen as Swift's running mate, Guierriero said, Massachusetts has entered a "post-gay" political period. "[Eight years ago,] the conversation around sexual orientation was very intense; this was prior even to the marriage equality decision in Massachusetts," Guierriero said. "I remember that day, I was live on TV with Wolf Blitzer. It was a national story, that you'd pick someone openly gay to run for lieutenant governor."
Contrary to eight years ago, Guierriero expects that Massachusetts residents will now be less inclined to vote based on LGBT issues, but will focus on issues "like family security and the resilience of the Massachusetts economy."
Tisei publicly came out as gay on Nov. 19 during an interview with the Boston Globe.
"It is not exactly a news flash," Tisei said of his sexuality. "I don't think people really care these days."
Tisei beat out House minority leader Bradley H. Jones Jr. of North Reading, Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz, and state Representative Karyn E. Polito of Shrewsbury for the position of lieutenant governor.
Rep. Carl Sciortino (D) backs Tisei's decision to come out, even if he doesn't support Tisei's politics. "I'm supportive of our current governor getting reelected, first and foremost," Sciortino said, but "I think Senator Tisei made a wise choice in coming out as openly gay before the campaign truly began...because I think it would've been unfortunate for it to have come out in any other way. I respect him for that."
Sciortino is doubtful that Baker's choice of running mate will affect LGBT support for current governor Deval Patrick. "I don't think we can have a better ally than we have right now in the corner office," he said. "I expect that members of the community know Governor Patrick's record and will stand by him in his reelection. I don't think there are too many communities that are as unified behind Governor Patrick as the LGBT community is."
The local Republican community is voicing concerns about Baker's selection, but not because Tiesi is gay. Instead, the majority of those who left comments on Red Mass Group (a popular blog for local Republicans; www.redmassgroup.com) are worried about the need to refill Tiesi's Senate seat with another Republican. "Picking any legislator for the [lieutenant governor] spot was a bad idea, our ranks are thin enough already," one user posted.
Baker and Tisei will face Cape Cod's Christy Mihos in the Republican primary. The winner will then go up against Treasurer Timothy Cahill and incumbent Gov. Deval Patrick in 2010.
"There will be plenty of time next year to debate. For today...universally we can respect and celebrate a person of Richard's experience and credentials and character," Guierriero said. "Richard's sexual orientation is largely irrelevant."