Skip to content

Bailey looks to oust Timilty

July 9, 2012

Although they are an oddity these days, Republicans from the state of Massachusetts will be in the national political spotlight this November, with former governor Mitt Romney running for president and U.S. Senator Scott Brown running for re-election in a tight, closely-watched race that could determine which party controls the Senate next January.

Not only will Walpole residents be able to watch as those races unfold, but they will also be able to watch an interesting political race closer to home – one that Republicans hope to make a big deal out of.

In the Bristol and Norfolk State Senate district, incumbent James Timilty, Democrat of Walpole, will be opposed by Attleboro Republican Jeffrey Bailey in November. Although Timilty isn’t considered vulnerable, Boston Phoenix liberal political columnist David Bernstein raised eyebrows in April when he ranked Timilty’s seat as one of the top five State Senate seats that could be taken over by Republicans this year.

The district leans conservative and was previously represented by Republican Joanne Sprague of Walpole before her retirement in 2004 led to Timilty’s election. During his eight-year tenure, Timilty has managed to rack up a voting record that is more conservative than many of his Democratic colleagues in the legislature, making him a difficult target for Republicans. The last time Timilty was opposed was in 2008, when he soundly defeated Walpole Republican Jon Rockwood by a nearly two-to-one margin.

Rockwood’s decisive defeat doesn’t faze Bailey, however. In an interview with 180, Bailey said he believes the race “certainly is winnable” for Republicans in an election that could see a strong turnout of conservative voters with Brown and Romney on the ballot.

Bailey believes that Rockwood lost the race in 2008 because Barack Obama was at the top of the ticket and he excited many independent voters. The Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, “didn’t excite the conservative base,” Bailey said. With voters now wary of Obama’s policies and looking for a change, Bailey said independent voters will vote conservative on election day.

Another flaw with Rockwood’s campaign, Bailey said, was that he shared a hometown with Timilty. “I intend to compete in the whole district,” he said.

Bailey says he can make inroads in other parts of the district where Rockwood failed. “I come from the southern part of the district,” Bailey said.

Bailey currently serves as a pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Attleboro. He also runs the Grace Baptist Christian Academy, a private K-12 school in Attleboro.

The campaign is only just beginning but already Bailey is hitting hard against the incumbent – blasting him for the corruption scandals on Beacon Hill, his supposedly moderate record, and on constituent services.

“It’s time to get away from corrupt politicians,” Bailey said, although he noted that he’s “not accusing [Timilty] of being personally corrupt.”

The atmosphere on Beacon Hill, where Democrats hold a majority in the Senate and House and also have control of the governor’s office, breeds corruption, Bailey said. Timilty hasn’t done enough to stop it, he argued.

“The issue is the Democrats run the show,” Bailey said. “It’s the whole culture, and it’s the Democratic culture,” he said. Bailey said Timilty should be leading on initiatives to open up notorious Beacon Hill closed-door meetings and speak out on increasing transparency.

“When the probation [scandal] indictments came down, his office said nothing,” Bailey said. “His silence [on the scandals of the last few years] is deafening.”

Bailey also said that Timilty has been light on constituent services, and hasn’t been around the district as often as he should be. He specifically called out Timilty for not holding regular office hours in the district and for not having a district office as other legislators do.

“I think office hours are extremely important,” Bailey said. Timilty has only made rare appearances at meetings around the district, and many non-profit groups never see him at any of their events, Bailey said.

“It’s not just showing up and marching in parades,” Bailey said of constituent services. “It’s about doing those things when no one is watching.”

Bailey said he wants to be a proactive senator who would show an interest in the affairs of constituents. For Bailey, that means he would regularly attend town meetings throughout the district.

He also says smaller ways to reach out to constituents – like visiting veteran’s hospitals – can be meaningful. Timilty has fallen short in efforts like that, Bailey said. “We don’t have any [veterans hospitals] in the district so he’s not interested,” Bailey said. But the veterans at those hospitals still live in the district, Bailey pointed out.

Bailey said his work as a pastor lends itself to working with constituents. “The work is no different,” Bailey said. “People call me now and say they don’t have food,” Bailey said. He also says he can identify with the varying needs of the district – which includes rural towns like Rehoboth, suburbs like Walpole, and urban centers like Attleboro. “People are people. They still want good schools. They still want safe streets,” Bailey said.

Bailey also rejected the notion that Timilty is as moderate as his voting record suggests. He pointed out that despite Timilty’s vote against raising the state sales tax from 5 percent to 6.25 percent in 2009, Timilty still eventually voted in favor of the FY 2010 state budget that included that tax hike. “If you’re against [the sales tax], then vote against the budget,” Bailey said. Timilty isn’t necessarily liberal, but voting against Senate Democratic leadership on a few issues doesn’t necessarily make him a conservative, Bailey argued.

On social issues like gay rights, Bailey said that as a religious leader he has his “own personal moral beliefs.” Nevertheless, he said he’s tolerant of the gay community and accepts their desire to marry.

“I know and understand why the gay community wants marriage,” he said. “If I was in their position I would want it too,” he said.

But Bailey believes that when the state legalized gay marriage in 2004, society as a whole didn’t necessarily start widely accepting gay marriage. Bailey, who noted that he has gay friends, said the only way gay people will feel that their right to marry is affirmed is if the people of Massachusetts approve it in a statewide referendum.

Even then, Bailey said he himself doesn’t know how he’d vote on a referendum of that nature. “I’d have to wrestle with my own conscience,” he said.

Bailey stressed that he wants to downplay social issues and won’t emphasize his gay marriage beliefs and doesn’t want to impose his beliefs on others.

“I have no axe to grind with anyone regarding who they live with, or who they sleep with,” Bailey said. “I’m not going to go up there to try to destroy gay rights,” he said.

When it comes to local aid and mandates on cities and towns, Bailey said he thinks major change is needed at the state level. “I do think that all of the mandates need to be looked at,” Bailey said. He supports taking a closer look at the state’s Special Education mandates, noting that in his experience running a private school and as a pastor, he believes many special education kids are mislabeled and can take regular education classes.

Bailey believes the state should trust local governments with more money, because “the closer we get to the people, the smarter the [spending] decisions are.” Going to City Council meetings in Attleboro, Bailey said he is continually impressed with the way that local officials scrutinize every line item in their municipal budgets very closely – a level of diligence that is unheard of at the state level, Bailey said.

“I’m definitely a believer in local control,” Bailey said. “I trust our Selectmen – I don’t care which party they’re from – more than I trust the legislature.”

At least until the local aid system is reformed, Bailey said he will still work with municipal officials to advocate for state grants and pork like prison mitigation. “I have no problem with mitigation money,” he said.

Bailey said that if elected he intends to voluntarily opt out of the state pension system and will not accept a transportation per diem for traveling to and from the State House. Although Timilty does not request per diems as other area legislators do, his mileage and car lease is reimbursed tax-free by his campaign, a practice that Bailey said he will refuse to do.

To grapple with the state’s significant transportation debt, Bailey said more cost-savings and reform is needed. The MBTA needs to reduce its personnel, including managers, Bailey said. The MBTA should also offer longer contracts to its operators, like the MBCR, to encourage those contractors to make long-term investments in the system.

Disclaimer: This post is not intended as an endorsement for either of the candidates in this race.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: