Ron Beaty Talks Re-Election Bid, Accomplishments, and Democratic Past

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Nearly 30 years ago, Ron Beaty was sentenced to federal prison for sending threatening letters to then-President George H.W. Bush, U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, and then state senator Lois Pines, a Newton Democrat.

Beaty is now a sitting member of the Barnstable County Commission seeking re-election to one of two four-year terms in a four-candidate race.

A lot has changed.

Beaty served 16 months in federal prison. He was a Democrat at the time, who had unsuccessfully sought the party’s nomination for state representative in the Fifth Barnstable District in 1990.

Beaty is now a Republican and a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump.

Philosophically, he says, he hasn’t moved very far.

As for his personal life — it’s a lot different now.

“I’ve been very transparent about my past,” Beaty told New Boston Post in a telephone interview recently. “In the early ’90s, I was in a very dark place in my life. I had a raging alcohol problem and was going through a bad divorce. I was arrested and convicted for sending out those threatening letters. I served in a federal prison for what I had done.” 

“Since then I’ve turned my life around, picked myself back up, and moved on with my life,” he added. “I have six college degrees, I’ve worked in the real estate industry, I got remarried and have been to my wife for 26 years now. She’s a nurse practitioner and we live a good life together. I try to give back to the community, and that’s why I got into public service. I want to help the community. It’s a form of penance, I guess, for the mistakes I’ve made.”

Although he was a Democrat during his first run for state representative, Beaty said the party abandoned people like him.

“I’ve always been a conservative,” he said. “About 30 years ago, I was a Democrat, but I was a conservative Democrat. There’s not many of them left these days. When I was at Boston College, I interned under Governor Edward J. King who later became a Republican. I think that had an impact on me over the years.”

King (1925-2006), who served as governor from 1979 to 1983, was not only a social conservative but, as The Harvard Crimson noted during his governorship, King was also in favor of lowering taxes.

Beaty said it’s hard to find Ed King Democrats in the party anymore.

“The Democratic Party is off the wall,” he said. “They’ve gone nuts with some of the policies they’re proposing these days. Jack Kennedy was a Democrat and here we are in the 21st century, and he’d be closer to a Republican these days than anything we see from the Democrats these days.”

Additionally, Beaty noted that even in 1990, there were conservatives in the Massachusetts Democratic Party — and liberals in the Republican Party.

“I’ve probably become a little more conservative,” he said. “I was pro-life then and I’m pro-life now. I would say I was conservative back then. There were two people running on the Democrat side against Bill Weld, who were actually probably more conservative than he was. One was named Jack Flood and the other was the gentleman who was the president of Boston University at the time, John Silber. He was a pretty good fiscal conservative. I liked them better than Weld at the time.”

Silber (1926-2012) was the Democratic nominee for governor in the wild 1990 state election. Weld, a Republican, edged him out in the general election. Flood (1939-2016) was a conservative Democratic state representative from Canton at the time, who also sought the Democratic nomination for governor that year.

After 1990, Beaty didn’t run for public office again until 2014. That time, he ran to be the state senator for the Cape and Islands district. He won the Republican primary against Allen Waters, 56.5 percent to 43.5 percent; Waters is now the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Rhode Island this year. Beaty lost the general election 62.4 percent to 37.1 percent to Cape Air founder Dan Wolf (who served from 2011 to 2017).

Beaty said he had been active in politics in the years leading up to his 2014 run. He described himself as a community activist, particularly in Barnstable County politics. He said he gained expertise on open meeting laws and advocated for transparency in local government.

After he was unable to win the state Senate seat in 2014, Beaty tried for another position two years later:  Barnstable County Commissioner.

“It’s actually more of my forte,” he said. “I have more experience with the issues at the county level. I was probably one of the few pro-Trump Republicans down here. I campaigned door-to-door down here and being that guy, I think that was instrumental to me winning the race.”

Beaty, whose name was at the top of the ballot in the 2016 race, won one of the two seats up for grabs in a four-candidate race. People could vote for up to two candidates, but many chose not to. He received 43,059 of the 137,912 ballots cast, edging out Democrat Mark Forest (42,156 votes) for second place. Democrat Mary Pat Flynn had the most votes in the race (65,614).

(Two years later, in 2018, Beaty ran in the GOP primary against state Representative Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich), but lost.)

Beaty’s victory in 2016 gave Republicans control of the Barnstable County of Commissioners for the first time in more than a decade, although Democrats regained control of it after the 2018 election when Leo Cakounes of Harwich lost his re-election bid.

However, Beaty said he is proud of the work the Republican majority did in those two years, including securing a AA bond rating in August 2017.

“County government was in really bad shape when I came on,” Beaty said. “It had been controlled by Democrats for more than a decade. They spent us into the ground. We had no money in our savings account basically. Luckily when I got elected there was another Republican in there, so Republicans took control for the first time in a while. We were able to reduce the size of county government, start saving again, and we’re fiscally stronger than we’ve been at any point in our history. That’s thanks to us, administration, and the staff.”

“I consider myself being at least instrumental in helping bring Barnstable County government back into the abyss and making it stronger than it’s been before,” he added. “We’ve got money in the bank. We can bond things out, and now we can offer more services to our people.”

He noted that services like dredging, septic system management, and the Cape Cod Commission, involved with regional planning, are responsibilities of the county government.

Additionally, Beaty said the county commission plans to create a wildfire mitigation plan that would include purchasing equipment to help contain wildfires, since the Cape is one of the most flammable parts of the country. Beaty said it ranked second behind California.

“We’re trying to get a jump on the problem so that if there is an issue down here, we’ll be ready for it,” he said. “We’ll be able to deal with it immediately.”

Another problem that Beaty wants addressed — and has received attention over — is shark attacks. Beaty has said in the past that he wants to deploy baited drum lines with hooks off the coast of Cape Cod beaches and kill the white sharks. It’s something that is done in Australia and South Africa, as points out.

That’s one way to stop great white shark attacks on Cape Cod, Beaty says, but not the long-term strategy.

“The problem with the sharks is that it’s directly related to the overpopulation of seals down the Cape and in other areas,” he said. “It’s gotten out of control mostly because, in 1973, the feds enacted what’s called the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The problem with the Marine Mammal Protection Act is that unlike the Endangered Species Act, there’s no way to delist the species once it comes back to a healthy level. It’s actually a detriment to us now. The seals not only attract the sharks, but they’re creating a public health hazard as well. They’re depleting the fish stock so they’re bad for fishermen. The fishing industry is suffering. They’re causing a lot of problems.”

Working with the Coalition to Amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Beaty hopes to change that.

“The long term goal is to get a delisting mechanism enacted,” he said. “In the meantime, there’s a lot more we can do to mitigate the shark problem because people have been killed over the last several years. If we don’t take measures to protect the tourists, visitors, and residents, somebody is going to get killed again. Somebody got killed up in Maine in a shark attack this summer. It’s a problem that’s getting worse in the area.”

It’s something he wishes more local politicians talked about.

“I hope to continue working on that issue, and I’m going to be on other local public officials until they get off their kiesters and do something about it,” he said. “We don’t need other people getting killed. That will kill our economy if we’re known as the place where people are getting killed by sharks.”

When asked if seal hunting could be one way to mitigate the population while creating jobs, Beaty said he is open to the idea.

“I think that’s something that has to be looked into,” he said. “It would take some legislation to make it happen. But native peoples up in Canada and Alaska have different uses for food, whether it’s for food or seal skins. There’s too many of them. Nothing should be off the table. That’s all I’m saying. But they could be made into an economic plus.”

The European Union has a ban on imported seal products with exceptions for Inuit communities, including Inuit-majority Greenland, according to Arctic Today.

Seals are used in making waterproof jackets and boots, fur coats, and seal oil (a fish oil supplement). They are also hunted for their meat. Inuits eat seal meat, and both Taiwan and South Korea have imported seal meat from Inuits, according to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. However, animal rights groups strongly oppose seal hunting.

As Beaty runs for re-election, he said it’s important to have real Republicans in state and local government, and that it presents a real opportunity to grow the party.

“If they’re a real Republican — I won’t go on a tangent about Charlie Baker, who people say is a Democrat with an R after his name — but I believe if you allow real Republicans to implement real Republican policies in this state, I think the results are far better than when you have liberal Democrats in charge and their rather nutty policies,” he said. “I’ve noticed that states with Republican governors like South Dakota have had far less problems with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the economies tend to do better. There’s also less civil unrest because Republicans believe in law-and-order whereas a lot of Democrats don’t.”

Like other Republicans in the state, Beaty has had a problem with sign theft. People have stolen his signs, defaced them, and even burned them on one occasion.

“This has been a problem because I have two very radical Democrats running against me and also an independent candidate,” he said. “I’ve been campaigning heavily since about the Fourth of July, and I’ve had signs defaced with Black Lives Matter spray paint. We’re offering rewards to find who does it. We’ve had perpetrators filmed twice on private property. Some other signs have been stolen and defaced. I’m a member of United Cape Patriots and this past weekend, it was discovered that my signs and Trump signs had been burned by BLM activists — and that was after they had harassed people at a pro-Trump rally down in Harwich and Chatham.”

Beaty is one of four candidates seeking two seats on the Barnstable County Commission in the general election Tuesday, November 3. Two others are Democrats:  Mark Forest of Yarmouth and Sheila Lyons of Wellfleet. Abraham Kasparian Jr. is an independent running on a line called Independent Unifying Thinking. The other candidates did not respond to New Boston Post’s request for comment.

The incumbent Beaty likes his chances of winning again.

“I think I have a good chance at being re-elected,” he said. “I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully, me and President Trump both win re-election.”

More information on Beaty’s re-election campaign is available on his Facebook page