Inertia consumes the bulk of Massachusetts’s political power structure. Democrats dominate the Legislature, which is one of the country’s least competitive. The party doesn’t have to sweat to stuff pols into virtual lifetime jobs in constitutional offices that normally open up only upon retirement, or a shot at the corner office. But for all the stasis that dominates most of state politics, Bay State voters have a serious thing for governors that come out of nowhere. Just ask Deval Patrick, or Mitt Romney, or Bill Weld.

That’s why hack in action Lt. Gov. Tim Murray had a serious uphill climb toward the governor’s office, even before the federal grand jury started asking about Mike McLaughlin’s alleged in-office fundraising for him. And it’s why Murray’s premature exit from the governor’s race last week doesn’t mark the beginning of a frantic round of gubernatorial politicking — it lifts the spotlight off the patronage-laden network Murray spent six years assembling, and puts it on the maneuvering deeper in the gubernatorial pack, which is where it probably belonged all along.

Even before Murray bowed out of the gubernatorial race (after raising $155,000 in December), a deep, intriguing Democratic field was assembling behind the lieutenant governor. It includes Dan Wolf, a businessman and two-term state senator who should find plenty of running room at the party’s left flank; Don Berwick, a former national health care aide; and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, the subject of a profile in CommonWealth’s latest issue. US Rep. Mike Capuano, who’s taking a pass at another run for Senate, has long been rumored to be weighing a run for governor. Then there’s Steve Grossman, the businessman and longtime Democratic fundraiser who vaulted into the treasurer’s office two years ago, and has been moving toward a gubernatorial campaign ever since.

Already, the Democratic field has a liberal outsider who looks ready-made to inherit the grassroots activists who catapulted Patrick to prominence; a former White House advisor with chops in a field that happens to consume a large and ever-growing share of the state budget; a young, ambitious mayor; a brawling former mayor who talks like an insurgent outsider and has experience running statewide; and a party heavy with fundraising and organizational muscle. It’s already looking like a diverse, crowded field. And the fence-sitters who were waiting on Murray haven’t even jumped into the fray yet.

                                                                                                         –PAUL MCMORROW

Beacon Hill

A second state chemist accused of tampering with evidence faces a judge, NECN reports.

The Globe looks at the mixed reviews being offered of Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposal to boost transportation spending by $1 billion a year. Among those weighing in critically is Jim Stergios of the Pioneer Institute. Stergios and transportation advocate Kristina Egan square off over the governor’s plan in this CommonWealth magazine “Face to Face” video conversation.

In an editorial, the Lowell Sun criticizes Patrick for failing to tackle the state’s pension crisis.

Sixteen state senators pocketed a total of $58,304 in so-called per diem payments in 2012, while 24 chose not to apply for the travel reimbursements, the Lowell Sun reports.

Salem Rep. John Keenan and Sen. Joan Lovely file bills requiring the state to sell vacant and aging court buildings to the city for $2, the Salem News reports.

Owners of the Framingham compounding pharmacy at the center of the meningitis outbreak linked to tainted drugs pulled $16 million out of the now-bankrupt company last year.

Municipal Matters

Lynn School Committee member Arthur Grabowski is mad that Superintendent Richard Langlois is trying to win the superintendent’s job in Marlborough, a year after applying for the same job in Pentucket, the Item reports.

The first block in Worcester’s CitySquare mega-project opens today.


A company that was a last-minute applicant for a state gambling license is considering proposing a slots parlor in Danvers, the Globe reports.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe spent over $500,000 lobbying state officials last year, leading the pack for all casino hopefuls. The funds come from the Tribe’s financial backer, the Genting Group, with a 15 percent interest rate attached.

National Politics/Washington

Tom Ashbrook and WBUR’s On Point examine President Obama’s inaugural address and prospects for his second term with David Gergen and Edna Greene Medford. Jim Braude analyzes the inauguration speech for NECN. Time’s analysis is here. The Globe looks at the president’s history-making focus on gay rights in his address. In the Weekly Standard, William Kristol nitpicks one sentence about war. Keller@Large says Obama supporters who want the president to be tougher on Republicans this term are inviting another four years of gridlock. Along those lines, the Wall Street Journal says many Republicans saw the speech’s tone as confrontational.

Governing explores a 4-3 Florida Supreme Court decision affirming a law that would require public employees, without collective bargaining, to contribute 3 percent of their salaries to the state’s pension fund.

A Sunday Globe editorial praises US Rep. Niki Tsongas for her work to combat sexual assault in the military, a subject that is the focus of an Oscar-nominated documentary film. CommonWealth Washington correspondent Shawn Zeller takes a look at Tsongas’s congressional tenure to date, including her work on this issue, in the magazine’s recently released winter issue.

Jill Kelley, the woman dragged into the Paula Broadwell-Gen. David Petraeus scandal, talks to Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast.

The National Review mourns the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade, which it termed “an enduring wrong.” The Fall River Herald News talks to some locals on the anniversary, including a group heading to Washington for the annual protest of the right-to-choose decision.


Scott Brown keeps the keys to his campaign office.


New York magazine asks whether the recent sale of Boston-based Zipcar spells the beginning of the company’s demise.


Paul Reville, who left the administration this month for a teaching position at Harvard, reflects on his four-and-a-half year tenure as the state’s secretary of education in an interview with CommonWealth.

The Enterprise looks back on the 20th anniversary of education reform in Massachusetts, which was triggered by a lawsuit against the state that included a Brockton student as the lead plaintiff. The story highlights the MassINC initiative for Gateway Cities funding as one way to close the continually stubborn achievement gap.

The nation’s high school graduation rate is the highest since 1976, the Associated Press reports (via Telegram & Gazette).

New York magazine rounds up the science of lasting high school psychological trauma, arguing that there’s no worse place for a 16-year old mind.

Health Care

Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton has turned around its dire finances in the last year since merging with the Boston medical center, going from a nearly $3.5 million deficit to a $1.7 million profit.


Many of the state’s aging dams are being breached instead of repaired, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

Criminal Justice

In a case with echoes of the 1997 trial of British au pair Louise Woodward, a 34-year-old nanny is under arrest and being charged with assaulting a 1-year-old Cambridge girl in her care who died at Children’s Hospital two days after the alleged assault. More charges could follow pending the medical examiner’s report on the death, says Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone.

Three Lawrence teens hired to work for the Department of Public Works under an anti-crime  program are arrested for allegedly committing seven armed robberies, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

New England Patriots defensive back Derrick Martin had a really bad day Sunday. While his team was getting picked apart by the Baltimore Ravens, his home in Colorado was being robbed.

Bernie Law has some company: New court filings show the retired cardinal of Los Angeles, Roger Mahoney, covered up decades of clergy sexual abuse.


The New York Times looks at the Globe’s efforts to utilize the growing vacancies in its Morrissey Boulevard building as downsizing opened up new avenues of revenue for renting out space to tech start-ups and community groups.

Federal regulators are granting protected speech status to employee use of social networking sites, as businesses try restricting access.