Bill Hudak, Republican congressional candidate in John Tierney's
district, has not been universally embraced by mainstream Massachusetts Republicans
-- in fact, when Hudak announced that Scott Brown had endorsed him,
Brown quickly denied it and forced a retraction.
shoulder is due to some rather disturbing and, some might say, nutty
opinions Hudak has expressed, such as once suggesting to journalists
that he had documentation proving that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.
Charlie Baker has no problem appearing with the guy. A couple of weeks
ago, Baker accepted an invitation to speak at a large Hudak event; he
came, took the stage with Hudak, and briefly addressed the audience. The photo above, obtained by the Phoenix, shows Baker speaking at the event, gesturing to the bow-tied Hudak.
was speaking to voters," campaign spokesperson Rick Gorka told me, when
I asked about Baker choosing to associate with Hudak. "We're going to
talk to voters everywhere."
Among the highlights: Hudak, in
2008, proudly displayed on his Boxford lawn an array of anti-Obama
signs, one of which depicted
Barack Obama as Osama bin Laden. He showed reporters documents
that, he claimed, proved that Obama was born in Kenya. (He has admitted
showing the documents, but now denies that he believed them.) He claimed
that Obama had ties to the Muslim faith. He referred to Obama as "Barry
Soetoro," as is common on so-called "birther" web sites.
Asked whether Baker personally considers Hudak's questioning of
Obama's citizenship, or comparing Obama to bin Laden, offensive, Gorka
replied: "They're not things Charlie agrees with." Pressed again, Gorka
termed those things "outrageous," but would not accept the
characterization of "offensive."
(As an aside, I'm not sure why the Baker campaign brought in Gorka
from the Republican National Committee to be its press secretary -- not
only is he alien to Massachusetts, but his resume of working for folks
like Katherine Harris, Michael Steele, and the now-defunct Freedom's
Watch may not make him a great fit for our poitical-media landscape.)
event Baker appeared at was a Hudak campaign fundraiser/rally at the
North Shore Music Theater in Beverly -- "Stand Up For America: A
Celebration of Freedom." Todd Feinburg, Jeff Katz, and Barbara Anderson
participated, and Hudak claims that 500 people attended. Among those on
hand were former Congressman Peter Torkildsen, state representatives
Brad Hill and Brad Jones, and a host of area legislative candidates.
insists that Baker's on-stage appearance did not suggest an endorsement
of, or support for, Hudak. But Wicked Local
Topsfield, for one, came away with a different impression; a photo caption accompanying their story about
the event included the line: "Also on hand to support Hudak’s candidacy
for the 6th district seat were Charlie
And, while Hudak is clear that Baker has not endorsed
him, he did suggest, at the least, a camaraderie between the campaigns,
when I asked him about Baker's appearance. "We're all in this working
together," Hudak says.
I've spoken with Hudak a couple of
times, and he comes across as a nice enough guy. But, his rabid,
Internet-researched attacks on Obama are about all we have to assess
him; he had never been politically active prior to his late- 2008
outburst of anti-Obamaism. Pretty much all we know is that he believes, and acts
upon, crazy, offensive things he reads on the Internet.
I can't imagine that it helps Baker to associate himself with that fringe of the Republican Party.
baffles me that institutional Republicans, like Torkildsen and Jones,
would legitimize Hudak as a candidate for high public office. But it's
especially significant when the standard-bearer of the state party legitimates a
candidate, which makes it incumbent upon Baker to avoid doing so -- unless he intends to embrace the fringe.