Gubernatorial candidate Mark Fisher stopped by Studio Three to talk about running for governor. Fisher faces a formidable opponent in the Republican primary in the form of Charlie Baker. Fisher talked about building up his business, Merchants Fabrication, in Auburn, MA. He also discussed his trouble getting on the gubernatorial ballot, his stance on immigration, and whether Massachusetts should build casinos.
Jim and Margery's questions are in bold. Responses are truncated where noted (...).
You talk about getting laid off in 2008, and that very same day something happened. Tell people that story.
I was looking for a business for sale, and I found one the very same day that I got my layoff notice. It took a long time to finally close the deal. It was in the Fall of 2008, business wasn't very good and the banks didn't want to give me a loan. We finally closed the following August, actually.
How did you buy a business if you were laid off?
Interesting [story]. So, that's what the banks wanted to know, too. I had to take a loan on my house. They wanted a lien on my mom's house. They wanted a personal guarantee. They also wanted a life insurance policy — which they got — on my life. I paid the premium. So, if I failed, they go after my house, they go after my mom's house, they go after my property, and if it causes so much stress that I die, they collect on the insurance policy.
You've been right in the middle of this big immigration battle. You're up at the State House when they had the big protest against bringing the children and the teenagers that have come from other countries. The 'stop the invasion' rally. What is your stand on this whole issue, Mark Fisher, please?
I said at the rally, we're compassionate people, and we want to help people. We're helping illegal immigrants now in the state to the tune of over 200,000 [immigrants], and $2 billion a year. And when I hear the Mayor of Lynn, Judy Kennedy, talk about what it's doing to her town (...), I think we're over the limit. So when I talk to people who are on the other side of the issue, I say, What's the limit? How many people can Massachusetts afford to take in? And I think we're way over that now.
So, what do you do with these kids who — at least according to Deval Patrick, the current governor — would be on these [military] bases, one in Western Mass., and one in Borne. Kids are here as a result of a law signed by [Pres.] George Bush in 2008. Even if it was a great idea they can't just be deported, they have due-process rights. They gotta be somewhere until they've exhausted those rights. What would you do with them if not have them here, Mark Fisher?
I guess two points. If I was governor a few months ago, and I was asked by [Pres.] Barack Obama, I would say the same answer that Gov. Malloy in Connecticut, and the governors in other Democratic states have said: no. This is your problem.
(...) Where is [Pres. Obama] supposed to take them, the White House? I don't mean that facetiously. Where's he supposed to put him while he's complying with [Pres.] George Bush['s] law?
In addition to George Bush's law, he has this deferred action. So, people are coming to the border knowing they can get it, they can't be turned away, and they have to wait three years in line to go before a judge. This is a federal problem. I guess you put them on federal bases somewhere.
But that's what he wants to do! He wants to put them on federal bases here.
But if they're asking for our permission in Massachusetts, I say no.
Suppose (...) there were a promise that we're not going to have these kids in schools in Lynn, in Brockton. 'We're not going to burden the budgets there, we're not going to have people living indefinitely,' that it is what Deval Patrick has said. It's going to be a short-term stay, all federal dollars. In that case, if you believe that to be true, would that be different?
No, and here's the reason why: Lew Evangelidis, sheriff in Central Mass., went down. He knows that there's a backlog of over three years for people to get before a federal judge. So it's four months and at least three years. And we've heard these promises before, about [how] the tolls would come down when the Turnpike was paid for, that the increase in the income tax was temporary, and so on and so forth. We've heard all these promises before.
(...) If you were assured that the representations made by both the federal government, and your predecessor Deval Patrick were accurate, that it's a finite period of time, much shorter than three years, that it's 100 percent federally-funded, purely on federal land, how could you say no? It complies with all the conditions you're talking about.
Then I would say, find something closer to the border, and don't incur the cost of bringing them up here with the airplanes.
There was a major dispute at the State House over the final version of a gun bill. Police chiefs were on the side of the Speaker of the House, saying, the same discretion police chiefs have to declare someone not suitable to have a license to carry a handgun, that same discretion should be granted to these police chiefs when deciding to give a license for a rifle or shotgun. The Senate 28-10 voted against such a program. Where are you — where were you on that, Mark Fisher?
I say, in Massachusetts we have some of the strictest gun laws in the country, and let's solve some real problems. I think that government incompetence with DCF, the drug lab scandal, the compounding pharmacy scandal [have] caused more harm and [are] responsible for more deaths than any law-abiding gun owners. Let's solve some of those problems. Waste of time.
So, would the answer be no?
So, to be consistent, if they don't have the power — police chiefs — to consider suitability as it relates to rifles and shotguns, should they also not have the power to make a decision based on suitability as they currently have with handguns, to be consistent?
Well, I went to get my FID card and they do have some, some discretion —
— on handguns. On handguns. I'm saying, to be consistent, if you don't want them to have it for rifles and shotguns, should they also not have it on handguns?
Yeah, it should be consistent, but here's the thing, Jim. When I got my FID card, there were 98 laws, and if you broke any one of them, you couldn't own a gun in Massachusetts. So, the moral of the story is, if you want a good neighbor, find yourself a law-abiding gun owner because they're already vetted by the police chief in the state of Massachusetts.
Mark, I read your bio and you talk a lot about money that we spend on welfare and SNAP and food stamps and that kind of stuff. I'm interested because you worked yourself for Raytheon. I don't hear a lot about corporate tax breaks and deals we make with these big corporations to stay in Massachusetts. I would assume, especially having worked in Raytheon, which did you wrong — where are you on big corporate taxes, Raytheon got one, and correct me if I'm wrong, took a lot of jobs out of state.
I'm opposed to corporate welfare. That's what I call it. (...) I call the tax-targeting of specific industries "fat industries" like Evergreen Solar. We should make a level playing field across the board. I'm for lowering the tax rate across the board to help businesses come in here, but not targeting specific industries. By the way, New York state — liberal New York — is the second-leading state in job creation. Why? They have no tax zones, and it's attracting businesses. We can do the same thing here in Massachusetts.
(...) Where are you on abortion, period — are you —
— Pro-life. Pro-life.
So what would happen to women under the Mark Fisher administration who have had abortions?
Well, I know women who have had abortions, who've had multiple abortions, who've survived abortion attempts on their own lives.
If it were illegal would you indict them?
Oh my goodness no. Oh my goodness no.
Nothing would happen. They could get abortions and you would not —
I want them to get information. Enterprise Institute says 64 percent of women who get abortions feel like they were coerced into it.
By their boyfriends, their husbands, their parents, their employer sometimes.
But if it were illegal though, if it were against the law to get an abortion, you couldn't legally get an abortion. So what would happen to the women that broke the law to get an abortion?
Yeah, I don't know.
You don't know.
I don't know.
Okay. (...) You've raised $40,000 while Baker's raised a million-and-something. (...) I don't get it. We get emails from all the candidates to the point where you can't even see your other emails in your inbox. How seriously are you campaigning in this thing?
Oh my goodness. So, if anybody wants to know that, go to my website, go to the 'events' tab, my schedule is public, I have four events today. I was on Fox News this morning, you guys, I got Access Framingham this afternoon, I've got a barbecue in West Roxbury.
So I'm wrong?
Assuming that's the case (...), how do you win a primary with $40,000 in the bank?
Virginia, David Brat. Versus $5 million.
He did beat one guy down there, and your politics are close to his.
Exactly. It's not $40,000, it's more like $340,000. Still, small change compared to —
— I saw, it was $39,000. I read —
Balanced, but raised, significantly —
— Oh, I'm sorry. Available. You know, one last thing — I assume we're going to get emails like I got when you were first on television with me, saying, 'Oh Jim, you're disparaging Mark Fisher by regularly referring to him as a Tea Party candidate.'
I'm proud of that! I'm proud of that!
You didn't shy away from that. Every time you're on television you have a [Tea Party] teacup with you. What is it about Tea Party politics that you think Massachusetts is ready for, Mark Fisher?
Well, I think this is the perfect segue, because I stopped on my way through East Bridgewater yesterday, and I got out of my car and stood with the Market Basket employees. Whether it's the establishment of a business, whether it's the establishment of a political party, whether it's the establishment of our government, I think it's the spirit of the Tea Party — I'm not saying that the Market Basket people call themselves Tea Partiers — I think it's the spirit of the Tea Party to say, Listen, the establishment isn't working for us, they're working against us. (...) Whether it's standing out, putting their jobs on the line, things like that, I think that's what it's all about.
(...) You're with the protesting Market Basket workers?
I say, more power to 'em, and I cautioned them, I said, Listen, you know what's happened in the past? And I referenced the PATCO [Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization] union thing with Ronald Reagan —
— Where he fired all the air traffic controllers —
Right. And that's the ultimatum that the Market Basket establishment is saying to them. And I heard on the news this morning, people saying, You know, we're willing to do that, and they're not going to be able to pay for college, this, that and the other thing. Man, what a sacrifice that is.
Both Charlie Baker told me on TV the other night, and Deval Patrick told us in studio last week, that as current governor and as hoped-for governor, they both used similar terms: private company, private enterprise, I really hope good things happen, I hope the workers are protected. As governor, I wouldn't intervene and try to do anything. I wouldn't have any power. Would you?
Same here. No help.
Meaning, you'd sit it out.
I was there with them, taking a side, but as governor — no, no, that's government involvement. None.
Even though thousands of jobs might be at risk, small businesses could also go under. You don't think there's any role for a governor in that setting?
No, no. Something will fill a vacuum there. There's a need. People need that supermarket, whether it's Market Basket or some other name, it'll be a free-market thing.
You know, Mark, I think there's a lot that appeals the Tea Party to people. They're fiscal conservatives, they're worried about spending too much money, and they're worried about their taxes and stuff like that. But a lot of the Tea Party, not everybody, but a lot of the Tea Party gets into the social issues — you were talking about the pro-life kind of thing — that, in Massachusetts makes it almost impossible even if you are a fiscal conservative to align with you.
That's a good point. That's a good point.
Yeah. Never thought of, 'We'll leave the social issues out of this and just talk about fiscal conservatism?'
For example, the young woman that seconded my nomination at the convention, she's pro-choice. She knows that I'm pro-life. She's still supporting me. Here's what I'd like to say: the recent Supreme Court ruling, nine-nothing. Liberals and conservatives on the bench were agreed. The ACLU agreed with the decision, and I'm standing with that. I think, Margery, that those people that are taking the side of the new buffer zone in Massachusetts, now 25 feet, if you can't agree with what the Supreme Court said, and the ACLU, which I think should be hailed by pro-life and pro-choice people — then I think you're showing your true colors as not pro-choice but pro-abortion.
So where are you on the whole marijuana thing, medical and regular, old legalization?
Medical, fine. That's between a patient [and] a doctor. On the other stuff, I've said, Washington and Colorado run an experiment. There's a few things I don't like. I've heard about young kids going to the emergency room because they've swallowed candy laced in it. And, are you under the influence when you're driving? There's gotta be tests for it. Let them run the experiment, let's see the results before we try to do it here in Massachusetts.
How about casinos?
I'm against them.
I don't think we'd even be considering it, Margery, if we had good jobs in the first place. I think we've driven jobs out of Massachusetts. I want to make it business-friendly like New York is, and bring good-paying jobs here. I don't like the fact that the remaining jobs — never mind the construction jobs — the remaining jobs are based on the fact that people have to go there [and] lose their money to support the jobs at the casinos.
So you're voting for repeal on the ballot question?
I'm voting for repeal. Now, if it passes, I'm a governor, I gotta respect the will of the people.
(...) Springfield is getting a casino, assuming it doesn't get repealed. They need something in Springfield, and while a lot of us say our first preference would not be a casino, Governor Fisher, what do you do for Springfield to generate economic activity? (...)
Very quickly, I'm going to do what Gov. Scott Walker did in Wisconsin. He had tens of billions in debt, and in three years they have a one billion dollar surplus. Making it business-friendly across the board — not just for Springfield, the South Shore, the North Shore, the Cape — across the board by reducing the corporate tax rate, eliminating the over-burden of rules and regulations, stop taxpayer funding of 'fat industries' — $58 million to Evergreen solar — and eliminating the inventory tax, Jim. Springfield is at the crossroads of [Interstates] 90 and 91. It would be a haven for distribution centers, and that means material handling jobs, logistics jobs, transportation jobs, administrative jobs. It would be a boon here for Massachusetts.
There was this really weird story a few months ago. Now that you're here I want to get to the bottom of this whole thing. You had sued the GOP to get onto the ballot. Then, there was this weird back-and-forth where they said you demanded $1 million to drop the lawsuit. You said it was the other way around. What's the story here, Mark Fisher?
Jim asked me that. 'Did you ask for a million dollars?' I said, absolutely not. If you want to get the specific language, so their attorney's asking us for a number. A number, a number, a number. I said, no, there is no number. I said, listen, tell them, it's the same ridiculous number they offered me back in December: a million dollars. I should've said 17 trillion.
So, what's the status of that? I know obviously they gave you ballot access, but what you told me and others is, I'm not done with this thing. I want to see the ballots, I want to prove — that in your estimation — they essentially committed fraud (...), correct?
Yeah. I say, they cheated and they got caught cheating. Here's the thing. I've told them, You release the tally sheets, and if they show what you say they show — no impropriety — I'll drop the lawsuit. I'll drop the lawsuit. The ball's in their court. Release the tally sheets.
So this lawsuit is still pending?
The judge split it into two parts. One to get me on the ballot. That was removed because they put me on the ballot. The second one's for damages, and that could play out over two or three years.
Did you ever find out who's going to pay you the one million dollars?
Well, there were some names named, and I went public with those names.
Uh-huh. Well, go public with them again.
I was told by a state committeeman to call a fellow named John Cook — who I've never met by the way. I got his phone number, we played phone tag, and that's the name, John Cook.
Where does he get a million dollars?
That's a good question to ask him, Margery.
(...) You said that you thought that the behavior on the part of the state GOP may have risen to criminality, correct?
Have you spoken to any prosecutors about that?
No, I think I said at the press conference, I mentioned— Martha Coakley, she's still the Attorney General, she still has a job to do, if she wants to look into that.
But you also suggested — and correct me if I'm wrong — that you think your opponent Charlie Baker may have been part of this deal. Do you have any evidence that Baker had anything to do with messing with ballots to ensure that you didn't gain primary ballot status?
Initially, I didn't say that. But, based on what we've seen come out, and delegates telling us what came out, and actually, people who were responsible for the tally sheets — I think his fingerprints are all over this. And that's why, that's why the tally sheets won't come out.
Because he was the only one who was the beneficiary of this. And the people who were doing it were Baker people.
Do you think he committed a crime? If you think the state GOP did, did Charlie Baker commit a crime?
I'll leave that for a jury to decide if the case is brought.
But again, if you think the state GOP committed a crime, why are you not willing to say whether you think Baker did or not?
Well, we need to get those tally sheets and see. We need to get those tally sheets and see.
You know, we have an email, and we get a lot of questions about this proposed pipeline, so I'm going to read it. This is from Bob: ' If Mark Fisher is against corporate welfare, how does he feel about the Kinder Morgan,' a private company of course, 'their proposed pipeline through Massachusetts is paid for by a surcharge on Massachusetts rate-payers?'
I was up in Orange last night, met with about 20 people, and emotions are running really high up there on the issue. And myself and Karen Anderson — who's running for state rep[resentative] — said this, we said, 'Listen, we want to know the facts.' But there's two principles that I want to keep in mind. We need other sources of low-cost energy. Gas seems to be ideal, clean-burning. But we also have to take into consideration the rights and concerns of the residents up there, and I don't know how those two can be met. We have gas distribution pipelines in Massachusetts now, we have electrical things, it's about easements and property. We can't please all the people all the time, but those two things have to be taken into consideration with any decision.
You know Mark, before you go — you seem to be having fun.
Oh! It's invigorating.
You can always tell — I think I can tell — when a candidate says they're having fun, 'I love meeting the people, I love' — you can tell when they don't really mean it. You seem to be having a spectacular — why is that, is this your 15 minutes of fame? What is it?
I'm an engineer, I'm an introvert. This is not in my nature to go ahead and do this. But when I've gone out and done this stuff, it's invigorating — sharing ideas like this.
So one last thing from me. You're not expected to beat Charlie Baker. Convince people that they would not waste their vote by voting for Mark Fisher.
Yeah. About a month and a half ago the Globe ran a poll and to their surprise they found that 14 percent of the state identifies itself as being members of the Tea Party. Only 11 percent identifies itself as being members of the Republican Party. So, if I can turn them out, I win. By the way, only after three months of campaigning I beat Charlie in two Senate districts at the convention, and I tied him in one, and that's after all the arm-twisting. So I think my chances are very, very good.
To hear the entire interview with Mark Fisher, click the audio above.