Massachusetts Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker is facing heat from social conservatives within his own party after his running mate, Karyn Polito, endorsed gay marriage this week. The Boston Globe reports that though Polito had originally agreed to moderate her stance on gay marriage by saying she would "not work to undo the progress achieved over the last decade,” in essence taking a play out of Mitt Romney's handbook, who in his 1994 run for Teddy Kennedy's senate seat "described himself as 'personally opposed' to abortion, but promised not to challenge existing abortion law," that more pacifistic plan went out the window after Baker and Polito announced their ticket:
The issue quickly came to a head after Baker and Polito appeared at a Shrewsbury diner to announce their ticket on Tuesday. A Globe reporter then inquired of a Baker campaign aide about Polito's position on gay marriage. The aide, who did not want to be quoted, replied that Polito favored the current gay marriage law.
In an e-mail exchange, the Globe asked whether it would be fair to say she favored gay marriage, and the aide replied that it would. That exchange was reflected in a Globe article Wednesday.
That clear-cut declaration eliminated the carefully designed nuance and set off a firestorm within social conservative circles, where Polito has been very popular.
Conservative activists, who oppose Baker’s socially liberal views on gay marriage and abortion, had been ready to support him for his fiscal conservatism and out of a desire to wrest control of the corner office from Democrats.
Social conservatives in the party are now urging their "ideological colleagues" to switch their support to Baker's only Republican challenger at this time, Mark Fisher.
Baker previously ran for governor in 2010 against current incumbent Deval Patrick, who has said he would retire after 2014. Baker also drew the ire of some Republicans for choosing Richard Tisei, a gay, pro-choice candidate as his running mate in 2010. Earlier this year the Baker campaign distributed a flier at the state's GOP convention that voiced opposition to a proposed "transgender rights" bill co-sponsored by Tisei, prompting speculation Baker was eager to win back social conservatives. Baker's response?
“'I think a guy who supports gay marriage and is pro-choice and has been pretty clear on those and picked a gay fella as his running mate is pretty much not pandering to much of anybody,' he said, placing a hand on Tisei's shoulder."