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Republicans are easy targets at Southie breakfast

Glen Johnson

Two Republicans – newly elected Sen. Scott Brown and gubernatorial candidate Charles Baker – were easy targets Sunday as the heavily Democratic Massachusetts political establishment gathered in South Boston for its annual St. Patrick’s Day roast.

Host Jack Hart, a state senator from Southie, hit both in his opening monologue, noting the “rainbow” of people in attendance, most of all the green-wearing Irish. “We also have a Brown — not you, governor,” Hart said, poking Gov. Deval Patrick, the state’s first black chief executive.

And he said there were red and even yellow folks in the crowd.

“That will be Charlie Baker, for not showing up today,” Hart said of the latter.

Baker decided to skip the event — where outsiders to the usually Democratic audience often win over the crowd by taking their lumps — to appear instead at a GOP gathering in Scituate.

The party has its annual nominating convention next month in Worcester, and Baker has been trying to line up delegates to forestall a challenge from fellow Republican Christy Mihos.

Brown himself was late on a blustery morning that lashed the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center with heavy wind and rain.

During his turn at the podium, Patrick himself joked about his race. He noted this year’s gubernatorial final could feature him, Baker and Treasurer Timothy Cahill, a former Democrat running as an independent. Baker is taller than both, while Cahill often gets ribbed for his good looks.

The governor said that when voters look at the stage this fall, they will see “tall, dark and handsome.”

Patrick also jabbed at Cahill in a most-unfunny way, noting, as he usually does in his more serious campaign stump speech, that the state pension fund had lost millions under his leadership, and the state Lottery had never made its revenue goals since he began as governor in 2007.

“To be governor, at a minimum, you have to know how to count,” said Patrick, sending a murmur through an audience of 700 braced for levity. In response, Patrick explained he had not written the remark.

Brown was an easy mark after rocking the state’s overwhelmingly Democratic leadership in January by upsetting Democrat Martha Coakley to win the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Edward M. Kennedy.

Senate President Therese Murray held up mock cover photos of the books several Massachusetts politicians are writing, including Brown, Patrick and former Gov. Mitt Romney.

Murray alluded to Romney being eclipsed on the national stage by Brown, a fellow Republican, joking the title to Romney’s new book is, “Everything I need to know I learned from Scott Brown.”

She also joked about Brown’s past as a nude model for Cosmopolitan magazine, saying his forthcoming book will be titled, “Cosmo to Congress, posing all the way.”

And she made note of the possibility many political analysts foresee, with Patrick narrowly winning re-election after Baker and Cahill split the anti-incumbent, fiscal conservative vote.

“How I got re-elected,” she said will be the title of Patrick’s book, as she pointed to a mock cover with a huge headshot of Cahill.

The head table featured many in the Massachusetts political leadership, including Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.

The Northern Ireland leader spoke seriously about the role of Irish Americans in his efforts to end British influence in Ireland.

“We would not have progress, which we’re making in the process back home, if it wasn’t for the encouragement, the assistance and the support of people here,” said Adams.

Among those also making a special appearance was Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, who was closing the event with the song that has become his trademark, “God Bless America.”

Associated Press