Baker’s GOP picks deliver a decidedly partisan message

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BOSTON – Mailers going out to Republican voters under Gov. Charlie Baker’s name ahead of next Tuesday’s Republican State Committee elections urge support for his chosen candidate to “End the Democratic Culture of Corruption on Beacon Hill.”

The message rings counter to the spirit of cooperation Baker has projected since entering the governor’s office as he sought to cultivate solid working relationships, if not friendships, with many leading Democrats in the Legislature.

Out of both practical necessity and political expediency, Baker’s willingness, often times, to go out of his way to compliment the Democratic leadership at the State House appears to be taking a back seat to his desire to reshape the GOP state committee.

The governor has endorsed in 74 of the 80 races across the state, including 16 candidates running with Baker’s backing against incumbent state committee people.

“I certainly think that more competition is a good thing in politics and I’ve said that for a long time that more competition creates more transparency and more accountability, and that’s exactly the sort of thing I think we need more of in Massachusetts,” Baker told the News Service on Wednesday when asked about the “culture of corruption” charge.

The phrase was popularized by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, who on the day of the conviction of former Speaker Sal DiMasi on corruption charges, declared, “The culture of corruption on the Hill has been dealt another blow.”

Pressed over whether after 18 months of working with legislative Democrats he truly believes that there’s a corrupt culture that pervades the building, Baker said, “Look, I think you can always do more to improve on this stuff and I think a lot of the people who are here would agree with me on that,” Baker said.

The mailers come at an interesting time for Democrats at the State House who enter an election cycle with one senator – Milton Sen. Brian Joyce – the target of an investigation by the FBI and IRS.

Joyce on Tuesday announced he would not seek re-election in the fall, but has so far rebuffed calls from some outside groups, including the Massachusetts Republican Party, for his resignation.

Baker has expressed deep concern over some of the allegations against Joyce, but has been reluctant to jump to any conclusions and has resisted calling for the senator to step down.

Written by Matt Murphy