BOSTON (AP) — Beacon Hill is replete with images of Massachusetts’ revolutionary past — a past that is feeling much closer to Democrats waging their own resistance to Republican President Donald Trump.
Since the election, state Democrats have passed through several stages of political grief before landing on the up-in-arms stage.
While that anger might have peaked this week after Senate Republicans rebuked Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren for reading from a letter by Coretta Scott King during a debate on the nomination of Jeff Sessions for attorney general, it has been close to a boil ever since Trump’s inauguration. And it shows few signs of cooling off.
Just 10 days ago, the Democrat-controlled Massachusetts Senate approved a resolution condemning Trump’s executive order restricting travel into the U.S. by people from seven Muslim-majority countries. Senators said the resolution reaffirmed the commonwealth’s “tradition of welcoming immigrants and refugees” and supported Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey’s efforts to fight the order.
On Monday, Healey joined a coalition of 16 attorneys general filing a legal brief in support of Washington and Minnesota in their federal lawsuit challenging Trump’s executive order on immigration. On Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate the order.
The Massachusetts House had also planned a caucus to discuss what they could do “to express our displeasure with the actions of the president,” according to Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo. Thursday’s blizzard postponed that caucus.
One of the biggest questions on Beacon Hill is how the Trump factor may play out in the 2018 elections — particularly whether anger at the president could be directed at the state’s top Republican, Gov. Charlie Baker.
Baker has taken steps to distance himself from Trump — both during the election and after — but not nearly enough for Democratic activists searching for ways to peck away at Baker’s still considerable popularity among a broad swath of Massachusetts voters.
Some faulted Baker for heading out to greet the returning Super Bowl champion Patriots but not finding time to appear at Boston rallies supporting immigrants and women.
How much of that criticism remains within liberal Democratic circles, and how much rings true with the wider populace, could help determine how successful Democrats are in nationalizing the governor’s race.
Baker knows he’s walking a political tightrope. This week, he sided with Warren, saying he finds it “hard to believe that a letter from Coretta Scott King would be out of order in any public place.”
While Trump could continue to give Baker headaches, Democrats are embracing their opposition status — and hoping to cash in at the same time.
According to an Associated Press review of Warren’s latest campaign finance reports, the Massachusetts Democrat took in a hefty $5.9 million in campaign contributions from January 2015 through the end of 2016.
Donations to Warren spiked in the final three months of last year, when she took in more than $1 million. That period from Oct. 1 through the end of December included Trump’s election.
Within hours of the GOP voting to silence her, Warren fired off another fundraising email to supporters, saying “I will not be silent about a nominee for Attorney General of the United States who has made derogatory and racist comments.”
On Friday, Warren’s campaign began offering “Nevertheless, She Persisted” T-shirts in exchange for $25 donations — a reference to a comment by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., when the Senate moved to silence Warren: “Senator Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
And just minutes after news broke Thursday that a federal appeals court refused to reinstate Trump’s travel ban, Healey sent off her own fundraising email hailing the ruling as a victory against what she called Trump’s “reckless and unconstitutional order.”