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March 4, 2014

GOP state challenger sees no need for 'centrist'

BOSTON — Presenting himself as the conservative alternative to GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Charlie Baker, Republican Mark Fisher on Monday said his party is wrong to think it has to nominate a centrist in order to compete in Massachusetts.

“I don’t subscribe to the Big Tent theory of the Republican Party,” Fisher said, calling himself a Tea Party member and proud “full platform Republican” who doesn’t think he has to try to please every voter in order to appeal to them for their support.

Fisher, a little-known candidate from Shrewsbury, took part in the gubernatorial candidate series being sponsored by the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University.

Admitting that “voting and complaining” has been the extent of his political involvement until now, Fisher said he is trying to unite elements of what he described as a “fractured Republican Party” in Massachusetts whose members too often don’t vote or “hold their nose” and vote for candidates that don’t champion their beliefs.

The MassGOP is scheduled to hold its nominating convention later this month in Boston where Fisher will have to clear at least 15 percent of the delegates in order to qualify for the primary ballot against Baker, who is the favorite to win the party nomination.

Fisher said he believes he can get to 15 percent, but has some concerns about his supporters who hail heavily from central and western Massachusetts making it to Boston for the convention.

Baker has not agreed to Fisher’s call for a debate before the convention. The path to success for many statewide Republican candidates in the past has required broad appeal to both independents and conservative Democrats, but Fisher says there’s another way and hopes his limited government views will resonate with voters.

Fisher opened the program at Suffolk by talking about three of his biggest priorities - eliminating fraud and abuse in the EBT welfare benefit and food stamp programs, making sure illegal immigrants are not rewarded with drivers’ licenses or in-state tuition, and eliminating the tolls on the Turnpike.

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