Brown's claims of moderation and independence, and the age-old mantra of "fiscally conservative, socially moderate," proved to be insufficient to inoculate local Republicans from the national brand.

Tisei says the national GOP needs to change — but that might be a long time coming.

What might be needed is for party leaders like Brown and Baker to articulate, in the course of high-profile campaigns, a new governing philosophy that defines today's Massachusetts Republicans.

That's what Bill Weld did in 1990, in leading the party back from its 1986 nadir.

But that can't happen if those leaders decide not to campaign against what they see as mathematically impossible odds. If that turns out to be the legacy of the 2012 elections, the MassGOP might really be buried for quite some time.

>>DBERNSTEIN@PHX.COM :: @DBERNSTEIN

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