But ultimately, the individuals and groups opposing Maginn are not interested in those personal details. They resent that Maginn, in their view, will run the state party for the benefit of his old pals Brown and Romney — and leave lower-office candidates, once again, to their own devices.

Their hopes are pinned on their own less-than-stellar candidate: McNamara is one of just a handful of US Attorneys ever forced out of their job by scandal. (Appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1987, McNamara resigned in 1989 after a Justice Department investigation concluded he had made false allegations of seeing his predecessor, William Weld, smoke marijuana.)

More important, MassGOP remains tilted toward Brown and Romney despite an increase in Tea Party–style members.

That means the rift between top and bottom of the state party will likely grow. Given how small the party is already, that's a split it can hardly afford.

To read the Talking Politics blog, go to thePhoenix.com/talkingpolitics. David S. Bernstein can be reached at dbernstein@phx.com. Follow him on Twitter @dbernstein.

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