WAKEFIELD -- Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker today announced that Richard R. Tisei, a veteran lawmaker who currently serves as the Republican leader of the Massachusetts Senate, will be his running mate in next year's election.
State Senator Richard R. Tisei
Republican Charles D. Baker has chosen state Senate minority leader Richard R. Tisei to be his running mate in next yearís race for governor.
The choice drew immediate comparisons to William Weld's selection of another veteran legislator, Paul Cellucci, to be his running mate in the 1990 and 1994 governor's races. Tisei, 47, who was first elected to the House at the age of 22, has served in the Senate since 1990. He is a realtor by trade.
"He's got 20 years of a fabulous record of a guy who fights for the taxpayers, fights for citizens, knows whatís on regular peopleís minds, represents a district that looks a lot like the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and Iím very excited to have him on board,Ē Baker said with Tisei by his side outside the Americal Civic Center in Tisei's hometown of Wakefield.
Tisei cites as his major accomplishments helping to craft an overhaul of the state's welfare laws in 1993, and his sponsorship of a whistleblower protection law. In the 40-member Senate, he leads a vastly outnumbered band of five Republicans.
Under Massachusetts law, Tisei will run separately from Baker for the position of lieutenant governor. But the two are following a longtime state Republican tradition of teaming up on a ticket to try to build momentum and discourage insurgent candidates for lieutenant governor.
"I'm really doing this to help Charlie govern the state," Tisei said at the event, where about 40 supporters held newly printed blue Baker/Tisei placards. "Whoever wins this election is going to have a huge job trying to turn the ship around and get us headed in the right direction. And that's where I think I can help Charlie. I understand the legislative process, the ebb and flows, why things get done and why they don't get done."
By naming a running mate now, Baker is hoping to head off other Republicans from entering the lieutenant governorís race, so he can conserve resources for the 2010 campaign. Baker and his lieutenant governor candidate could then both raise money, effectively doubling the amount Baker could raise on his own under campaign finance limits.
Although candidates for governor and lieutenant governor are not legally a ticket and do not appear so on party primary ballots, state campaign regulators, following a 1990 court case, have given wide leeway for candidates to run as a ticket in primaries.
Baker, a former top official in the Weld administration and former Harvard Pilgrim Health Care president, said he was following Weld's model in selecting someone who knows the intricacies of the Legislature.
"The goal here if we win -- when we win -- in November is going to be to get stuff done and part of getting stuff done is understanding how the building works and working reform through the process and Richard's been doing that for his entire career," Baker said.
Tisei would be the first openly gay lieutenant governor, if elected. But Baker did not mention Tiseiís sexuality at the event and downplayed the significance of the issue when asked about it afterward. Tisei supported same-sex marriage when the issue was debated by the Legislature.
"The big issue for everybody is always going to be, in a time like this, about jobs and the budget and getting the budget under control and getting people back to work and reforming state government and that really is the reason Richard is standing here with me today," Baker said. "He and I see eye to eye on that stuff, and I think that that issue is sort of an issue, as well, but it's nowhere near as important as the other stuff."
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