Globe Editorial

Build GOP with optimism

January 15, 2011

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A MORE competitive political environment would benefit Massachusetts. And now that the Republican State Committee has reelected Jennifer Nassour as its chairwoman, it can get back to rebuilding the shrinking ranks of Republican voters and recruiting candidates who can win in a traditionally Democratic state. Nassour led Republicans through a rollercoaster of a year, from Scott Brown’s Senate upset to the crushing defeat of every statewide Republican candidate in November. But Nassour’s relentlessly optimistic outlook represents a good strategy for her party, and her reelection was a vote of confidence in it.

Nassour easily beat an opponent who was critical of her outreach to gay voters, and her victory may herald a renewed focus on issues like economic policy and the size and effectiveness of state government. Bay State Republicans would be wise to continue that strategy, both because they provide an important counterweight to Beacon Hill’s Democratic leaders on policy matters and because the GOP needs to cast as wide a net as possible. The proportion of Republicans registered in the state hit a new low in September — just 11 percent.

The party needs strong candidates to carry its message. While Republicans put forward some compelling ones last year — Charlie Baker, Richard Tisei, Mary Z. Connaughton, Karyn Polito, and Sean Bielat would make credible candidates in future races — not all of them were recruited by the state party. Additionally, the GOP’s failure to run strong candidates against vulnerable Democratic incumbents like Attorney General Martha Coakley and Congressman John F. Tierney bordered on political malpractice.

Massachusetts is best served by two parties. Even in the bluest of blue states, there’s no reason Massachusetts Republicans shouldn’t be able to mount a more effective challenge in the future.