For a guy who’s supposedly the most powerful person on Beacon Hill, lame-duck Gov. Charlie Baker sure is pretty beat up on his way out the door.
He is a pariah in his own Republican Party and is seen by most as a doormat to the Democratic lawmakers who are really in charge.
The latest major Baker snub came last week when lawmakers sent a bill authored by the governor to a dead-end committee that would have expanded the court’s ability to detain suspects who pose a dangerous threat. Understand.
A move by the Liberal legislature this year to kill the bill angered Baker, who spent months bringing home victims of torture and sexual assault. This may be an all-time low in his dealings with the legislature.
And it takes a lot to make Baker angry. He’s not exactly a cracker.
The Republican governor has essentially been on cruise control for the past few months, traveling out of state as frequently as other previous governors have done in their last terms.
While they were out, the Legislature ruled the roost as they usually do.
No Massachusetts governor is ever the most powerful politician in the state, as Baker’s delusional supporters should know. The title belongs to the Speaker of the House, or sometimes the President of the Senate, who controls a legion of simple-minded lawmakers who do what they’re told. Baker has a bully pulpit – that’s it.
This has always been the case in Massachusetts, regardless of the party the governor belongs to.
Even Senate President Karen Spilka currently has more power than the governor.
But after years of being disagreed with and ignored by arrogant Democratic lawmakers, Baker could finally get some payback if he really wants it.
Baker can use his veto pen in the next ten days and the Legislature can’t do anything about it, because procrastinating lawmakers waited that long to pass a budget.
Baker will likely amend some of the bills and replace some of the spending. But it’s a short-lived and hollow victory for Baker. Lawmakers can overturn anything the governor does in the next legislative session.
And it’s also unclear whether Baker really has the guts to take on Democratic leaders, with whom he’s generally had an uncomfortably cozy relationship.
The Republican governor seems much more comfortable with his Democratic counterparts these days than with other fellow Republicans.
The state GOP is far from Baker personally and politically.
The governor will walk out the door an unpopular outsider in his own party and a powerless tool for Democratic lawmakers.
They may complain about Baker’s last-minute vetoes, but they know he’ll still be in charge when the legislature next meets.