Jim Lyons Wins Massachusetts GOP Chairmanship

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2019/01/18/jim-lyons-wins-massachusetts-gop-chairmanship/

Former state representative Jim Lyons won an upset victory to become chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party on Thursday night.

Lyons, who was the most conservative member of the state Legislature before losing a re-election bid this past November, won the state party committee vote 47-30 over Brent Anderson, the party treasurer, who was widely considered the establishment candidate.

Anderson announced a few weeks ago that he had gotten commitments from a majority of state party committee members, but his support was apparently softer than he thought.

Lyons, an Andover Republican, was the number-one target of left-wing Democrats in the state legislature in November 2018 because of his conservative stands and forceful opposition to the left-of-center agenda on Beacon Hill.

Lyons made opposition to abortion the linchpin of his agenda as a state legislator. He also supported Question 3, a referendum this past November that sought unsuccessfully to repeal the Bathroom Bill, a portion of the state’s gender-identity law that guarantees access to public accommodations based on gender identity instead of biological sex.

Shortly before the formal session of the legislature ended last summer, Lyons singlehandedly stopped a bid to allow Gender X to appear on Massachusetts driver’s licenses by filing late diversionary bills designed to recognize more than 70 versions of “gender.”

Lyons is also a fiscal conservative, leading him to vote against the state budget on numerous occasions.

Lyons drew some flak from the right last year when he endorsed Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican who supports abortion, same-sex marriage, and the pro-transgender Bathroom Bill as well as modest tax and spending increases.

Baker drew criticism for attending a fund-raiser for Lyons during the campaign, but he used the association with Lyons to try to shore up his relationship with conservatives during the primary, when he faced a conservative challenger. Lyons felt he needed the governor’s support to try to fend off a stiff challenge from a well-funded liberal Democrat, who ended up beating him. While it didn’t work in the general election in November, Lyons’s endorsement of Baker may have made his victory in the party chairmanship race Thursday night possible.

Lyons the conservative and Baker the moderate establishmentarian are the most identifiable figures of the two wings of the Massachusetts Republican Party. The establishment side usually wins state party politics, which makes Lyons’s victory surprising.

It follows the victory in the September 2018 Republican U.S. Senate primary by then-state representative Geoff Diehl, a conservative ally of Lyons’s, over two more establishment-friendly candidates. In that same Republican primary, Scott Lively, widely written off as a fringe candidate for governor, got a surprising 36 percent of the vote against Baker.

The results don’t show progress for conservatives among the Massachusetts general electorate — Diehl lost the November 2018 general election to U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Cambridge), 60-36 percent, and Lyons lost his state representative race by about 8 points.

But it does show progress for conservatives within the Massachusetts Republican Party.