Charlie Baker 2.0 has learned two important lessons from Charlie Baker 1.0. First, he had to lighten up. Second, he needed to appeal to women voters who were turned off by his angry persona. The Republican gubernatorial candidate has worked to fix the first issue by stressing his father-husband-Red Sox fan bona-fides and sporting broad smiles and purple ties.

To solve his second problem, he tapped Karyn Polito, the former Shrewsbury state representative and 2010 candidate for treasurer, for the lieutenant governor’s slot.

The move has gotten mixed reviews. Polito is regarded as one of the bright lights in the state Republican firmament. She pulled in nearly 30,000 more votes across the Bay State than Baker did in 2010. Her candidacy also quiets Republicans who feared that Gabriel Gomez might find his way into the lieutenant governor’s race.

Red Mass Group  surmises that Polito’s ascendancy can be attributed to a deliberate decision by some GOP operatives to work on a brand makeover aimed at making the party more palatable to urban minority voters. One group favoring this approach is the, a state PAC co-founded by DeanCavaretta, Polito’s former deputy campaign manager for her 2010 run, and David D’Arcangelo, the chair of the Malden Republican Committee.

A recent MetroWestDaily News opinion column by the Pioneer Institute’s Mary Connaughton illustrates how this strategy might reset the statewide political agenda. Connaughton, who lost the auditor’s race to Suzanne Bump in 2010, suggests that the Republican Party could make inroads with urban parents on school choice.

That translates into raising the charter school cap and steering more students into METCO. Both Baker and Politico support charter schools (Polito has some caveats), which are hugely popular with urban parents frustrated with the poor performance of their school districts. But where Baker and Polito might stand on expanding a successful, yet perpetually cashed-strapped desegregation program presents an interesting conundrum for Republicans who may not be keen on an education effort straight out of the 1960s.

But Polito will have to play defense on two issues that voters will likely hear more about in the coming weeks: if she steered state funding to construction of a road near property that she owns in Shrewsbury and if she helped friends and others obtain low-number commemorative Red Sox license plates. The Boston Globe reported that she has denied any involvement in both cases.

Her deeper problem, which may require some damage control, stems from her embrace of Tea Party elements. This summer in Stoughton, Allen West, a Florida Tea Party stalwart who served one term in Congress, presented Polito with a “Citizen Patriot” award. Blue Mass Group went apoplectic about the event: “Maybe Polito intends to never again seek elected office. Maybe she does, and just hopes no one will care that she’s standing shoulder to shoulder with a divisive, delusional right-wing extremist like Allen West.”

How “extreme” is West? He has accused President Obama of aiming to turn Americans into his slaves. He’s also called Social Security disability payments “a form of modern, 21st century slavery.”

Baker’s case for Polito wasn’t helped by a Boston Herald report that she was far down on the list of prospective running mates, which included former attorney general Tom Reilly, unnamed Democratic mayors, and other Republican women like Mary Connaughton. Asked if he was making an appeal to conservative Republicans who weren’t excited by Richard Tisei, his 2010 pick, Baker told the Herald, “I’m not thinking about it that way.”



A Globe editorial makes the case for rejecting an arbitrator’s generous contract award to Boston police officers, a point of view the Boston City Council is expected to reject today.

Ed Augustus, the director of government relations at Holy Cross and former campaign manager for US Rep. Jim McGovern, is given an interim appointment as Worcester city manager for nine months, the Telegram & Gazette reports. T&G columnist Clive McFarlane decries the selection process.

The Braintree town clerk has filed an Open Meeting Law complaint against the Town Council in a dispute over the appointed clerk’s office travel expenses.

Newbury is granting property tax abatements to property owners along Plum Island‘s troubled shoreline.

Quincy residents are concerned about hunters shooting geese and ducks in Merrymount Park in the densely populated City of Presidents.


A majority of the state’s gambling commission members appear to favor letting Suffolk Downs pursue a Revere-only casino, the Associated Press reports.

Mashpee Wampanoag officials labeled opponents of the tribe’s proposed casino in Taunton as “xenophobes” and “skinheads” at a heated public hearing before the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs in Taunton.


A Detroit judge rules that pension entitlements are subject to cuts in the city’s bankruptcy proceeding, Governing reports.

Scott Brown pens an op-ed for the National Review eviscerating President Obama and Democrats over the Affordable Care Act. What does the Fox News contributor use as his prime example for the ill effects of the reform? Yup, New Hampshire.

In his new book, former Vice President Dick Cheney says he initially refused the nation’s No. 2 job in 2000 and then, because of his heart problems, signed a secret letter of resignation to be used if he was ever disabled after a heart attack.

To go along with its cellar-dwelling public approval rating, Congress can now also boast of being the least productive in modern history, the Globe reports.

The US House passes an extension of the Undetectable Firearms Act, but the Daily Beast reports the law has a loophole.

Keller@Large hails the first step in the deescalation in the “War on Christmas.”


Raining just a tad on the roll-out parade for Karyn Polito, Charlie Baker’s running mate, Scot Lehigh wonders why anyone would want the dead-end, make-work LG post, which he advocates doing away with (along with the Governor’s Council for good measure).


Google joins the robotics arms race against Amazon.


Massachusetts students do well on a global exam but students from Asian countries dominate the world academically, WBUR reports.

The median grade at Harvard College is an A- and the most frequently awarded mark is an A, the Harvard Crimson reports.

Boston Mayor-elect Marty Walsh tells NECN’s Jim Braude he would consider former opponent John Connolly for the job of school superintendent.

Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon seeks $1.5 million for a feasibility study and design of a new middle school, the Salem News reports.

Police in Lunenburg search the home of the football player where racist graffiti was found. Police the day before concluded no one on the football team was responsible, NECN reports.


A liberal New Yorker writer explains why the Affordable Care Act is, in some ways, a bitter pill to swallow for her family, but also one worth taking.


Despite fare hikes and financial bailout legislation, the MBTA is on track for a $25 million deficit at the end of the fiscal year, the State House News Service reports.


More than 23 years after the infamous art theft at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the FBI is rolling out a “Whitey” Bulger-type effort complete with wanted posters to try to solve the case.


Stephen Mindich, who shut down the Boston Phoenix earlier this year, questions the future of newspapers, but Boston Herald editor Joe Sciacca is more upbeat, CommonWealth reports. The Herald, in its story on the panel discussion, focuses on the rosier outlook espoused by Sciacca.

Newsweek says it will relaunch its print edition with a heavier reliance on higher subscription prices rather than advertising, the New York Times reports.

As if it was needed, the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry just got ratcheted up another notch.