Jeff Jacoby

Hence the endlessly-recycled nattering about the damaged Republican "brand" in Massachusetts, and how the GOP is doomed to keep losing until it rids itself of positions that are incompatible with the Bay State's political culture. Invariably this comes down to a call for Republican candidates who are liberal on social issues, moderately conservative on fiscal issues, and generally eager to distance themselves from the national Republican Party. What the local GOP needs, one senior party official told me last week, are "more Weld Republicans."

Maybe what it really needs are more "Fattman Republicans."

Ryan Fattman is a young state representative from Sutton, first elected to the Legislature two years ago and re-elected last week with 70 percent of the vote despite a strong Democratic challenger. Talk to Fattman about Republican prospects in Massachusetts, and he doesn't bend your ear with laments about a toxic "brand" or how the national GOP platform is too extreme. He talks instead about liberty, limited government, and low taxes. About how the "R" after his name stands for "reform." About how Massachusetts is one of the most difficult states to do business in, thanks to a Democratic monopoly that is "intrusive and expensive and controlling."

Rather than trying to recruit big names to run for high office, Fattman says, the state GOP should be focused on the grassroots. The party needs candidates with close ties to their communities and the patience to learn the political ropes. But above all, he argues, it needs candidates who can explain, with enthusiasm and clarity and conviction, what Republicans are offering: a Massachusetts "that empowers its citizens with autonomy and initiative" – one that defends their "freedom to decide, to build, to earn."

Perhaps what's wrong with Bay State Republicans is that too many of them just want to be on the winning side. The key to the party's future is with the likes of Ryan Fattman – a Republican who knows why he wants to win, and why he wants to do so with an "R" after his name.

Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby is an Op-Ed writer for the Boston Globe, a radio political commentator, and a contributing columnist for