Mayor Menino has, arguably, the best political operation in the Commonwealth but in a presidential year its turnout impact may be diminished. Menino may change his tune down the road but right now this comment is a quiet vote of no confidence in fellow Democrat Elizabeth Warren.
Bill Kirk of the Lawrence Eagle Tribune has a short list of possible candidates that may run for Steven Baddour's soon-to-be open seat:
Among the names thrown out there as possible candidates on the Democratic side: Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini, former Methuen Mayor Bill Manzi, Methuen City Councilor Sean Fountain, and Baddour's predecessor Jim Jajuga of Methuen, who is the outgoing president of the Haverhill Chamber of Commerce.
On the Republican side, former Congressional candidate Sam Meas of Haverhill said he may run and people are wondering if Al DiNuccio, who ran unsuccessfully for Methuen mayor twice, will throw his hat into the ring.
Whole thing here.
The deadline to make the ballot is May 1 but only 300 signatures are required to get on the ballot. To avoid challenges candidates will probably have to gather 400-500 just to be safe.
Baddour announced his resignation from the State Senate yesterday.
When Geraldo Rivera is not busy opening Capone's vault he saying hooded sweatshirts will get you killed.
Stay classy, Geraldo.
In a press release sent out this morning the Ron Paul campaign announced a new web ad where they attack Mitt Romney strategist Eric Fehrnstrom for his Etch-A-Sketch comments.
Here's the ad:
Sorry, but this ad does not focus on Romney nearly enough to squash any of the Romney-Paul rumors nor is it that effective. Yeah, poking fun at the Etch-A-Sketch nonsense gets through but the dramatic music and slick Lucasfilm style graphics in this ad are borderline comical.
Paul has made several ads styled like this but this one just swings and misses.
The chattering rose and navy classes are up in arms about how today's indictments are, well, disappointing but we have to remember it is only March and this could be just the beginning of a wave of indictments that will roll out over the months to come. No need to jump to conclusions that this is it. As US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said during her press conference today, "this is just one step in an ongoing investigation."
Remember, The Ware Report is over 300 pages long and it contains many names.
Elizabeth Warren has one less opponent in the Democratic primary for US Senate: Jim King.
King is pledging his support for consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic Party's bid to defeat Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who won the seat in a 2010 special election following the death of longtime Democratic Sen. Edward Kennendy.
King said that although he holds a "great deal of respect and admiration" for Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Marisa DeFranco, Warren has the name recognition and party support to go head-to-head with Brown.
Warren's clearing of the Democratic field is very impressive for a candidate that has never run for elective office at any level. The only significant candidate remaining in the primary is DeFranco but she has little backing financially or from party heavyweights. DeFranco, an immigration attorney, has positioned herself to the left of Warren, particularly in the early debates where she frequently sparred with her.
She has stated that she intends to stay in the race but she may do better by running on the Green Rainbow Party ticket. While many people have pulled papers to run as independents nobody has to run as a Green. The signature threshold of 10,000 is low enough that the Greens meager statewide operation could easily surpass it. Plus, if DeFranco runs as a Green she could get a spot next to Warren and Brown in the debates to further advance her progressive views.
DeFranco could not be reached for comment.
We have not reached the end of the race for the 2012 Republican nomination but we are approaching turn three after Mitt Romney's decisive victory in Illinois. Here are three takeaways from tonight's predictable contest:
- It really is coming to an end and that means people will start jumping ship. No, really. Romney's win in Illinois will lead to increase chatter from the conservative pundit class and blogosphere for his opponents to drop out. Even the most ardent Romney opponents will start to fall in line behind the guy because no matter how much they cannot stand the "Massachusetts Moderate" they detest President Obama even more.
- A contested convention is the only real path to the nomination for anybody not named Romney. The current delegate math makes it very difficult for Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich to win the nomination before the convention in Tampa. A two-man race between either of them and Romney may actually hurt them more because it splits the vote two ways instead of three. Ron Paul will not be the Republican nominee, sorry.
- Gingrich's last stand is probably this Saturday in Louisiana. Look, Gingrich just does not have the funds to go all the way to the convention. Unless he gets another SuperPAC shot in the arm after this weekend it is hard to see how his campaign can continue to function at a national level.
Key data point from this poll:
In the head to head with Warren, Brown has the GOP base completely locked up 89-3. And the 17% of Democrats he's winning is comparable to the 19% we found him getting against Martha Coakley in 2010. But he's only up 48-36 with independents, a far cry from his 64-32 advantage with them against Coakley, and that's the main reason he trails by this narrow margin.
Warren is reclaiming the middle from Brown. We find her up 42-40 with moderate voters, a group that we found Brown leading Coakley 55-41 with. She's also inspiring a lot of enthusiasm from young people. 56% rate her favorably to 27% with an unfavorable view, and she leads Brown 56-29 with them.
If turnout this November is similar to what it was in 2008 Brown probably needs 60-70 percent of independents and 15-20 percent of Democrats to have a prayer. Not impossible for him but still no easy task. Both candidates need to turnout independents but due to the Democrats huge registration advantage Warren does not need to rely on them as heavily as Brown.
Over at Real Clear Politics Sean Trende has put together this fantastic breakdown of the 2012 primary by county:
Trende's great piece on the demographics of the race are here
What does it tell us? Santorum wins in rural places with small populations and Romney wins pretty much everywhere else. This is bad news for Santorum long term.
Simon Glik's arrest in 2007 for videotaping police engaged in a drug arrest near Boston Common led to a serious of lawsuits that effectively raised the troubling issue of barriers to recording public officials, particular cops, to national prominence. In the end Glik was victorious as the court ruled that the right to record police or public officials in public extends beyond journalists.
A 2009 incident involving former officer Daivd Williams was resolved this week at a cost of $1.4 million to the City of Boston.
(Michael) O’Brien, 31, accused Williams of knocking him to the ground while he was videotaping another police officer with a cellphone. O’Brien, who said he lives with debilitating dizziness and headaches, said the settlement will not end his trauma.
“I don’t feel it will ever be over,’’ O’Brien said on Tuesday. “I’ll have to live with this the rest of my life.’’
Howard Friedman, who is O’Brien’s attorney, said he hoped one outcome of the lawsuit would be quicker investigations of civilian complaints against officers. He said O’Brien filed his lawsuit in part because his complaint was not promptly investigated.
“They told him they would investigate, and no investigation was done,’’ Friedman said. “Hopefully they’ll go out and look sooner.’’
Since 2010 the Boston Police Department has instructed officers how to appropriately address changes in technology that the wiretapping laws do not address. The department is instructing officers that the laws do not give "a right of arrest for public and open recordings."
The fight for the right to record police in public is expected to continue this summer in Chicago at the G-8 summit where thousands will gather to protest capitalism, free markets, and everything else under the sun. From 30,000 feet Illinois appears to have even more restrictive recording laws than Massachusetts.
Walking and driving around the blacked out Back Bay yesterday was as fascinating as it was frustrating. Quiet side streets lined by brownstones were lit by nothing more than gas lamps while major intersections were bathed in flashing blue lights from police cruisers busy directing traffic. Small crowds of adults gathered on corners and stoops to chat in the unusually warm March evening weather. Packs of kids, involuntarily disconnected from their Playstations and ignoring the warnings about toxic smoke, were roaming the streets playing flashlight tag in the Fenway.
Some residents adjusted quickly to the major inconvenience, too busy with their own lives to even acknowledge that power was out in a huge chunk of a major American city. There was little, if any, looting or rioting.
Tourists, like this New York group I talked to, seemed to take it in stride and viewed it as a cool experience they could tell people about in the future.
No it was not Life After People or a post-apocalyptic zombie film but the blackout did remind us how we, as urban dwellers, are so heavily reliant on the city's fragile power grid.
Here is every story on the newest member of the gaming commission Enrique Zuniga.
Zuniga is currently the executive director of the Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust. His appointment leaves the five-person board only two members short.
My WRKO interview with the Chairman of the Gaming Commission Stephen Crosby is here. .
Mitt Romney leads President Obama 49-47 in a new national poll but still has problems with his Republican base according to a new ABC News poll.
The gap between expectations for Obama in November and his current support is yet more pronounced in comparable results for Romney within his own party. Seventy-four percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents expect Romney to be the nominee. But far fewer favor that outcome: Thirty-one percent would like to see him win the nomination, essentially no more than the 29 percent who prefer Santorum. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich trail with 15 and 14 percent, respectively.
These are really bad numbers not just for Romney but for Republicans in general because a real lack of enthusiasm at the top of the ticket trickles down the ballot across the country.
The bad news for GOPers continues:
In the end, similar numbers of leaned Republicans say they’d be satisfied with either Romney as their nominee — 66 percent — or Santorum, 69 percent. But that’s lower than it might be; in an ABC/Post poll in March 2004, by contrast, 88 percent of leaned Democrats said they’d be satisfied with John Kerry as their nominee.
The enthusiasm gap is not limited to Republicans. Polls continue to show that Democrats are less excited about the 2012 election than Republicans. This gap is probably narrowed or even erased by the lack of excitement surrounding the potential GOP nominees.
There is no doubt that Republicans really want to go to the polls and vote against Obama but come November will any of them want to go to the polls and vote for their nominee?
The Independent Institute's Robert Higgs posts some interesting charts and data that depict an American labor force that has shown stagnant growth since 2008. The country may have added jobs last month but the size of the overall labor force remains a significant long term problem as the economy recovers.
But so far this campaign season, publicly traded companies have shied away from the outside groups — giving less than one half of a percent of all the contributions raised by the most active super PACs
The hyperbolic fearmongering that corporations were going to take over the electoral process after Citizens United has turned out to be, so far, merely hot air. According to Politico and others corporations have continued doing what they were doing before Citizens United: give to non-profit political entities where their donations can remain anonymous.
A major resort style casino is slated for development in the Catskills of upstate New York.
The property is budget at $600 million and comes will all the standard components of a modern stand-alone resort casino.
With the development of casinos there, three potentially in the works in Massachusetts, expansion efforts underway in Maine and elsewhere it appears there is still room in the northeast gaming market. There remains, though, the possibility of market saturation.
I never though I would agree with Pat Robertson on something.
Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson says marijuana should be legalized and treated like alcohol because the government's war on drugs has failed.
"I just think it's shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of a controlled substance," Robertson said on his show March 1. "The whole thing is crazy. We've said, `Well, we're conservatives, we're tough on crime.' That's baloney."
First time for everything, I guess.
The high school dropout rate in Massachusetts has been steadily declining since 2007 but that is not stopping some advocates from wanting an even lower one, even if means forcing kids to stay in school after they hit 16. .
BOSTON — Massachusetts high school students would be required to stay in school until age 18 under a bill approved Thursday by a legislative panel hoping to reduce the number of students who drop out of school . The compulsory school attendance age in Massachusetts is currently 16, with certain exceptions for children as young as 14.
In addition to raising the dropout age to 18, with no exemptions, the bill advanced by the joint Education Committee contains other proposals to get students "across the finish line to graduation," said Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, D-Boston, who co-chairs the panel.
Two questions for the advocates of this proposal:
Why force kids to stay in school when they clearly do not want to be there? Odds are they are disruptive and create all kinds of problems for the other students, effectively dragging down the entire student body.
Why should students that want to be there suffer because the government wants to force kids to stay that clearly do not want to be there? A program like this would only drain precious educational resources that could go to students that want to participate.
This idea has its heart in the right place but it appears it may hurt more people than it helps.
When you look at the voting patterns of outgoing Maine Senator Olympia Snowe and
Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown her endorsement of him makes sense because they represent an endangered breed of moderate New England Republicans. Snowe noted this in her endorsement, praising Brown for what she called his "independent spirit and bipartisan outlook." Their reputations as moderates are backed up by a Washington Post evaluation that shows they have nearly identical voting records:
- Brown votes with his party 73%
- Snowe votes with her party 74%
Voting with your party over 70% of the time may sound like partisanship but in the modern Senate this is as good as it gets for bipartisan voting records. WaPo concludes that Brown is the fourth most moderate senator while Snowe is fifth. Nevada Senator Dean Heller tops the list for breaking with his party the most but his voting record is less than a year old and is an extreme outlier. Senator Suasn Collins of Maine votes with her party 71% of the time putting her ahead of Brown and her fellow Mainer Snowe.
The same evaluation concludes that Senator John Kerry has voted with his party 97% of the time.
Scott Brown is a "mildly conservative fellow" according to Blue Mass Group boss David Kravitz but if you search for the words "Scott Brown" and "Radical" on his site they come up with nearly 1,000 results.
In the post he put up today, I'm not angry at Scott Brown. Are you?, Kravitz makes the case that Brown is not the rabid right-wing cartoon that so many of his fellow liberals paint him as. According to him Brown is a lovable dolt that stumbled into being a US Senator.
He’s still more or less what he’s always been: an affable, somewhat bumbling, mildly conservative fellow who, through a peculiar series of coincidences, wound up way over his head in a job that he’s not very good at. His major accomplishment in office has been to complain about how mean the Senate’s kool kidz are to him. I mean, he thought those bin Laden photos were real, for God’s sake. It’s hard to get angry at someone you can’t take seriously.
The thing is if you look at Twitter or press releases from liberal activists they don't see him that way. They see him as this lockstep conservative ideologue who is beholden to the Koch brothers and bent on waging a Republican led "War on Women". In a strange way Brown has been a blessing to many liberal activists because ever since Mitt Romney left in 2007 there has not been a real local conservative figure for them to raise hell about. He has given them purpose, he has given them something to do so of course they are going to view him as this, frankly, amusing caricature that is not remotely accurate.
Not only is Brown a moderate but he is one of the most moderate Senators in the nation, according to a National Journal review of his voting record. Brown is not that different from the other New England moderates in the Senate, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.
Of course this does not stop liberal activists from making comments like:
Anyone who votes in Mitch McConnell is an extreme right winger. Period.
Don't forget to check out the piece Frank Philips on how Democrats are worried about Warren's chances.
Mitt Romney did not secure the Republican nomination last night but he did pick up the majority of delegates at stake inching him ever closer to podium in Tampa. His successes last night restored the (uneasy?) sense of inevitability surrounding his candidacy and that has some Massachusetts Republicans exited about what he would do at the top of the ticket in the Commonwealth.
Republican congressional candidates Sean Bielat and Jeff Semon are bullish about the prospect of the former governor being at the top of the ticket in Massachusetts this fall.
"Having Romney up there as a strong viable alternative to Obama can only help Republicans further down the ticket, especially here in Massachusetts where Democrats aren't going to be afraid of voting for a Mitt Romney," said Bielat, a candidate in the Fourth Congressional district.
Bielat, the front-runner in the Republican field, is expected to face Democratic candidate Joe Kennedy III in a race to fill Barney Frank's seat.
"His weak presidency is going to help candidates down ticket going up against all Democrats," said Semon.
Semon is challenging Ed Markey in what was Seventh but is now the Fifth Congressional District.
At Romney's Super Tuesday night party his former lieutenant governor, Kerry Healey, agreed saying she thinks it will help down ballot candidates as well, particularly Scott Brown.
"I imagine Republicans will do quite well in the House races as well this time around," she said.
CORRECTION: This post did not account for redistricting and referenced the wrong district for Markey.
One of the big non-Super Tuesday stories in Massachusetts politics today is the endorsement of Sean Bielat by Citizens United. You may recall that Citizens United is the group that led the successful charge to repeal the McCain-Feingold campaign finance laws.
"Marine Reservist Major Sean Bielat had the courage to take on entrenched incumbent Barney Frank in 2010 and that same courage will push him over the top this time against the Kennedy machine," said David N. Bossie, President of Citizens United. Sean believes in the concept of citizen legislators who come to Washington with fresh ideas and try to fix the big problems our country is facing. As a Marine, Sean is dedicated to making America great. As a businessman, he has the unique perspective of how the regulatory system is choking job growth.
Massachusetts 4th District needs a change, and Sean Bielat will bring that change to Washington by focusing on pro-growth economic policies that will help create jobs and get our economy moving again.
Bielat, the likely Republican nominee, will face the likely Democratic nominee, Joe Kennedy III, in a race to fill Barney Frank's soon to be vacant seat.
Campaign fiance matters rarely play major roles in campaigns and they probably will not be a major part of the fight for Frank's district either. Campaign finance reform is not even on several lists of issues voters are concerned about.
Here is a video from Reason.tv to remind you that the Citizens United ruling and Super PACs are not destroying American democracy.
I am a correspondent for Reason and you can find all my work for them here.
So far it looks like Vermont could end up awarding delegates to Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul. When Vermont voted in 2008 Romney had already dropped out and Paul finished a very distant third with only 6% of the vote. Vermont only awards 14 delegates through the primary but in a contest where many are speculating it could end in a brokered convention every single one counts.
Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report is reporting that longtime liberal icon Dennis Kucinich will lose his seat in Congress. If this does happen the House will be absent Kucinich and Ron Paul, two ideologues who strongly disagreed on a variety of issues but frequently found common ground.
Paul has stated that he is not running for reelection in his Lake Jackson district. Kucinich was forced into a primary due to redistricing with fellow congressman Marcy Kaptur.
If you voted in the Republican or Democratic primary today you probably noticed that color schemes were different from what we are used to with the two major parties. The Democratic ballot is red and the Republican ballot is blue. Well, it has been that way for a long, long time and it probably will not change any time soon.
“It’s always been that way but I don’t know when it began,” said Brian McNiff, spokesman for Secretary of State Bill Galvin.
McNiff could not pinpoint exactly when it started but he believes it has something to do with the change in how ballots were tallied.
“Nowadays the only parts of the ballot that are colored are the header. Back when they were paper ballots they were colored. They are designed for being viewed electronically now as opposed to being hand counted,” he said
There are no plans to change the color coding of the ballots according to McNiff.
Much of the talk before the Michigan primary focused on the potential impact that Democrats would have on the Republican nomination there. Rick Santorum's campaign got flack from other Republicans, particularly the Romney campaign, for courting Democratic voters to cross party lines and pull the lever for him but in the end it did not matter as he the lost state by a few percentage points.
This type of cross-party primary voting cannot take place in the Democratic stronghold of Massachusetts because the Commonwealth has what is known as a semi-closed primary. This means that only registered independents have the ability to vote in the primary of any party. So, if you are a registered Democrat looking to prolong the Republican primary by voting for Santorum or Ron Paul you will be out of luck. Republicans looking to upend the Green Party primary, same goes for you.
Massachusetts voter registration breakdown by party:
Unenrolled, better known as Independents: 2,145,108
Total Registered Voters 4,111,128
Rush Limbaugh has been on the radio for longer than I have been alive and during that time he has said some shocking things but rarely have they caused the type of outrage we are currently seeing. The firestorm over his remarks about Georgetown student Sandra Fluke launched a nationwide boycott styled after the one that brought down Glenn Beck. Removing Beck from Fox News was a different situation, though, as his ratings were already in decline and he was quarreling with station management. Limbaugh is a completely different situation: he is the godfather of conservative talk radio and has the largest audience of any broadcaster in the country. Limbaugh has much deeper roots in the conservative movement than Beck, too, simply because he has been around far longer. Remember, the campaign that brought down Beck only removed him from Fox News Channel he still has a national radio show with over 8.50 million listeners.
What Limbaugh said was deplorable, particularly because it was aimed at a private citizen, but it remains to be seen if this comment will be what brings him and his 600-something station empire crashing down
I host a show on WRKO 680 AM on Saturdays from 1-3pm and fill in occasionally during the week. WRKO was once a Limbaugh affiliate. I'm a contributor to WGBH 89.7 FM, too.
Politico's Josh Gerstein reports that President Obama has failed to live up to the promise that his administration would be "the most open and transparent in history."
“Obama is the sixth administration that’s been in office since I’ve been doing Freedom of Information Act work. … It’s kind of shocking to me to say this, but of the six, this administration is the worst on FOIA issues. The worst. There’s just no question about it,” said Katherine Meyer, a Washington lawyer who’s been filing FOIA cases since 1978. “This administration is raising one barrier after another. … It’s gotten to the point where I’m stunned — I’m really stunned.” David Sobel, senior counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that “despite the positive rhetoric that has come from the White House and the attorney general, that guidance has not been translated into real world results in actual cases. … Basically, the reviews are terrible.”
When people accuse your administration of being even less transparent than the Bush administration that is saying something. Candidates make all kinds of lofty promises on the campaign trail that they fail to deliver on but Obama's failure on this one is striking
If the Mashpee Wampaoag Tribe goes through with its plans to build a resort style casino and the Raynham Park dog track obtains a license to open a slot parlor the gambling center of Massachusetts could be the South Coast, not Foxborough.
The proposed plans are still in the extremely early stages of development but if they advance beyond just models and specs it could alter the gaming landscape. Twin River is not that far from either of the proposed locations, too.
Ron Paul has not won any states in the race for the Republican nomination but that has not stopped his supporters from loyally backing him in every way imaginable. From making their own shirts and signs to distributing supporter designed pamphlets to running ads they have paid for themselves his supporters have gone the distance.
And now they have made their own Paul chocolate bars.
Three bars go for $9.99 and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the bars goes to the production of the Ron Paul "Superbrochure", a pamphlet designed and distributed by supporters independent from the campaign.
Your purchase of Ron Paul Bars helps fund various grassroots projects. A portion of your purchase (20.12% net proceeds) is currently funding "The Ron Paul Super Brochure" project. Consider making bulk purchases to send Ron Paul Chocolate Bars to early & late primary/caucus states! The Ron Paul Chocolate Bar wrapper and custom made bar is an educational tool that has a "Wow" effect unlike anything we've seen. We have been inspired by the stories of those who have purchased Ron Paul Bars and the influence it has to open up conversations.
The makers of the candy bar did not respond to a request for comment.