THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Promise unfulfilled, he ran from running mate

Paul Loscocco said he is now endorsing Charles Baker for governor because he believes Timothy Cahill ‘cannot win.’ Paul Loscocco said he is now endorsing Charles Baker for governor because he believes Timothy Cahill ‘cannot win.’
By Stephanie Ebbert
Globe Staff / October 2, 2010

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On paper, he seemed like a promising running mate for gubernatorial hopeful Timothy P. Cahill. A former legislator with a record conservative enough to counterbalance Cahill’s long tenure as a Democrat, Republican Paul Loscocco lives in Holliston, a suburb in the crucial western suburbs, and he was expected to help deliver a voter base, as well as fund-raising savvy.

But as Cahill’s running mate of nine months, Loscocco kept a fairly low profile and did not raise much money, just $71,438 since January. In the end, he ended up where he wanted to be at the start of the race, by Republican Charles D. Baker’s side.

Loscocco, who ran as Cahill’s running mate after being rebuffed by Baker, yesterday defected again, endorsing Baker. He was immediately brought back into the fold by the Massachusetts GOP and spoke at last night’s fund-raiser for the party and Baker, headlined by US Senators John McCain and Scott Brown. McCain called Loscocco’s move an act of political courage, said one of the attendees.

“We welcome Paul and the fact that he has reached the same conclusion as everyone else, that Charlie Baker will be the next governor of the Commonwealth,’’ said Jennifer Nassour, the state Republican Party chairwoman.

Loscocco said he was not pressured or enticed to leave Cahill, whom Republicans have long regarded as a potential spoiler in their effort to unseat Democrat Deval Patrick. But he did not discount the possibility of working in a Baker administration. Instead, he cast his decision as pragmatic.

“This is about the current reality: Tim cannot win,’’ Loscocco told reporters. Soon, he reverted to speaking in plurals about the campaign he had just left: “Our message has not resonated with voters.’’ He said he was glad to be part of “Tim’s team,’’ then quickly corrected himself to say, part of “Charlie’s team.’’

Even as he dealt the latest damaging blow to Cahill’s campaign, Loscocco defended the treasurer’s record, if not his odds.

“I wouldn’t have run with Tim if I didn’t think he would be a great governor, and I have the utmost respect for him and his record,’’ he said. “But this isn’t about the past. This is about the future.’’

Loscocco said he spoke with Baker Thursday night; he told Cahill about his decision less than two hours before he was to appear with Baker at a press conference yesterday morning. His departure came on the heels of hasty exits by Cahill’s Republican campaign manager and his national GOP consultant, who quit last week. The consultant also said he was getting out because Cahill could not win and would only help reelect Patrick.

At a press conference yesterday, Cahill expressed disappointment and surprise at Loscocco’s exit, saying that he had made a good-faith effort to build a bipartisan ticket, but that the “Republican couldn’t stay true to his word, so he’s back with the camp that he started with.’’

“I misjudged his character, because I thought he was in this for true change, not to just be a part of the same old same old on Beacon Hill,’’ Cahill said.

Cahill’s pick of Loscocco, an attorney who served in the Legislature from 2000 to 2008, seemed aimed at appealing to conservatives. A conservative antiabortion lawmaker who long opposed gay marriage, Loscocco presented a contrast with Baker’s number two, Senate minority leader Richard R. Tisei, who supports abortion rights, gay rights, and is himself gay.

But toward the end of his legislative career, Loscocco became known as one of the legislators who reversed his position on gay marriage, helping the Democrats block a constitutional ban. That hurt his stature with some conservatives, including Christen Varley, president of the Greater Boston Tea Party, who lives in Loscocco’s hometown, Holliston.

“He hasn’t had credibility since he walked back on his commitment on marriage,’’ Varley said yesterday. She was pleased that Loscocco would be backing Baker, instead of drawing conservative votes away from him.

“It’s very smart, and I hope that the treasurer takes a lesson from this,’’ Varley said. “It’s more important this year to defeat bad policy than it is to further one’s political aspiration.’’

When Loscocco joined Cahill’s ticket in January, House minority leader Bradley H. Jones Jr. questioned whether the move was self-serving. Yesterday, Jones said Loscocco’s repeat reversals could present “tremendous challenges for him politically.’’ But Jones focused on the Republican talking point that Loscocco’s decision affirmed Baker’s chances.

“This just sort of confirms what was already apparent to all of us, which is this is essentially a two-person race between Charlie and the governor,’’ Jones said.

Todd Domke, a Republican political analyst, said that Loscocco didn’t have much impact on Cahill’s campaign, but his defection could.

“This guy will have more recognition from this announcement than he had the whole time since he announced,’’ he said. “The reality is, he was not a running mate. He wasn’t running. He wasn’t a mate. But it just plays into the narrative that this campaign is going backward.’’

Noah Bierman of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at ebbert@globe.com.