After what might politely be described as a poor showing in November’s general election, the state Republican party is preparing to select new leadership following weeks of interparty drama.
On Tuesday, two-term MassGOP Chairman Jim Lyons will attempt to defend his job leading Republican efforts in deep blue Massachusetts. Lyons was first elected to steer the party in 2019 after eight years in the state Legislature.
Ahead of party elections the chairman has found himself surrounded by controversy, some of it seemingly of his own making and potentially illegal, but some, according to him, the result of “nefarious schemes hatched by the liberals to seize control of the state GOP.”
“This was an unprecedented unilateral action designed to undermine my elected leadership and destroy the Reagan-Trump conservative majority on the State Committee,” Lyons said in a wide ranging letter to party members dated Saturday.
At the center of that scheme is, according to Lyons, the person seeking to unseat him.
“None other than Amy Carnevale played a critical role in undermining my time as Chair and seeking to ruin the conservative cause. Carnevale is now the stalking horse candidate put forward to reassert progressive anti-Reagan/anti-Trump control of the Mass GOP,” he wrote.
Carnevale, a 10-year elected committeewoman from Marblehead and a longtime operative in national Republican circles, told the Herald Sunday the chairman was engaging in a classic bit of showmanship.
“I think clearly the most recent communication from Chairman Lyons is an attempt to distract members of the state committee from the failures the party experienced in the last election. Members I’m speaking with are really more focused on how to move the party forward,” she said.
Lyons, in his letter, claims Carnevale was at the center of a years-long campaign to label him a racist and a bigot and that “the nefarious plan culminated with the MassGOP treasurer shutting down the state Republican bank account on February 1, 2022.”
That treasurer has reported Lyons for potential campaign finance violations. Lyons tells party members, pending his potential reelection Tuesday, he’ll sue for more than $5 million in damages.
Carnevale, when asked to respond, said she would be continuing to focus on getting Republicans elected.
“Members I’m speaking with are tired with the dissension within our ranks that is being perpetuated by the current chair,” she said.
Measuring the strength of the state party when he was elected against where it stands now does not provide Lyons much in the way of a favorable reference.
Former Gov. Charlie Baker, despite routine recognition as the most popular governor in the country,opted not to run for reelection and handed over the keys to the corner office to Democrat Gov. Maura Healey on his way out of the State House.
There are just three Republicans in the state’s Senate, half what it was in 2019, and at least six fewer conservative Representatives in the state House. Republicans have won no constitutional offices and don’t hold a single seat in the state’s congressional delegation.
Perhaps most telling: going into the midterms there were more than 35,000 fewer registered Republicans in Massachusetts than there were four years earlier.
Lyons did spearhead an effort to overturn a law granting driver’s licenses to those without lawful presence in the state, gathering about 100,000 signatures in support of a ballot measure that was placed before voters but ultimately failed.
In short, things haven’t been going all that well.
During a Sunday television appearance, Anthony Amore, who despite being at odds with the party chairman managed to get more votes in his unsuccessful race to be the state’s auditor than did the party’s losing pick for governor, said its time for change in the party.
“We need somebody who can at least try to unify the party,” he said.