Despite his “political outsider” status, Republican gubernatorial candidate and small-business owner Mark Fisher says that he would provide “conservative solutions for liberal failures” if elected governor of Massachusetts, comparable to what he says New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are doing for their respective “blue” states.
“If things were going well, no Republican would have any chance at winning any race from dog catcher on up. But things in Massachusetts are not going well,” said Fisher, speaking at the eighth roundtable discussion hosted by the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University Law School.
"If Democrats own the state as they do, that means they own all the problems. They cannot blame the Republicans in Massachusetts for anything. That being the case, what an absolutely wonderful time to be a conservative Republican in Massachusetts.”
The Shrewsbury resident said that, as a Tea Party member, he wants to rekindle the spirit of American patriot Dr. Joseph Warren by challenging constituents to stop supporting politicians if they fail to keep their promises.
Fisher, owner of Merchant’s Fabrication in Auburn and a first-time office-seeker, blamed Democrats for fraud and abuse plaguing such state assistance programs as electronic benefits transfer, or EBT, cards and food stamps.
“These programs are necessary, and they are there for the needy who need them, not for the greedy who abuse them,” he said.
Tough on illegal immigration
He said that in a Fisher administration, illegal immigration would be illegal. Though Fisher said two of his current employees were not U.S. citizens, they obtained green cards legally and “played by the rules.”
Fisher said that immigrants who enter the state legally are the ones most critical of illegal immigration and that undocumented civilians are concerned with “their own good instead of the common good.” He said that he is not looking to deport illegal immigrants but rather to eliminate benefits so they would be more prone to leave the state.
“To talk about giving in-state tuition or driver’s licenses to people who broke the law is rewarding bad behavior,” Fisher said. “That’s not good government policy. That’s not good parenting.”
Fisher said that Democrats are responsible for such “broken promises” as eliminating tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike.
“There are a lot of broken promises, I want to keep them,” he said. “If we can't trust our government, it’s no use talking about anything else.”
Fisher outlined four initiatives to bring jobs quickly and efficiently back to Massachusetts:
- Examine the Bay State’s corporate tax rate structure and make it comparable to those of other states if local businesses were to consider moving operations elsewhere.
- Get rid of “ticky-tack fouls” in the state regarding “overburdensome rules and regulations.”
- Stop funding “fad industries,” including Evergreen Solar, with taxpayer dollars.
- Eliminate the state’s inventory tax to turn Massachusetts into a “haven” for distribution centers.
Briefly addressing issues affecting Massachusetts, Fisher said that he:
- Would eliminate the state climatologist position proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick.
- As a “full-platform Republican,” believes in following free-market principles when it comes to health care and housing.
- Wants to see how Colorado’s “experiment” plays out in terms of legalizing and taxing the recreational use of marijuana before addressing the issue in Massachusetts.
- Is “open” to the concept of lowering minimum-mandatory jail sentences for offenders, specifically ones with substance abuse issues.
- Believes there should be a greater focus on jobs that don't require a college education. “The people who go to trade school, I'm trying to find them, I'm trying to hire them at my work and I can't find them.”
- Believes that government-sponsored student loans are allowing higher learning institutions to keep their tuition prices high.
- Is personally against casino gambling in the state, but also would forego imposing his own personal beliefs about specific issues if elected governor, including casinos, minimum wage increases, gay marriage and abortion
“I don't believe in imposing my views on the citizens of Massachusetts,” he said. “Those planks that are in the platform, I stand on them. I'm not running from them but I'm not going to use them to beat people over the head with them. The governor is supposed to be a servant of the people.”
Fisher, a licensed professional engineer and business owner, graduated from Westfield High School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute with degrees in mechanical engineering and manufacturing engineering. Having worked blue-collar jobs before earning his advanced degrees, Fisher said he was able to fulfill the “pursuit of happiness, not government-imposed happiness.”
Strategy within GOP
Asked how he felt his chances for victory were against Republican candidate Charlie Baker, Fisher said his current focus was obtaining 15 percent of the necessary vote to get on the ballot for the primary election by meeting with Republican town and city committees to deliver his campaign messages.
“Give me a primary and we'll see how the differences come out,” he said.
Fisher said he also is concentrating on uniting fractured Republican groups to achieve a victory similar to Scott Brown’s 2010 Senate victory.
The Rappaport Roundtable series, made possible with the support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, gives all nine gubernatorial candidates the opportunity to introduce themselves, make their case to the electorate, outline their priorities and discuss pressing policy issues facing the commonwealth today, in 2015 and beyond.