The Massachusetts Republican Party is on the verge of throwing its financial weight behind Charlie Baker‘s gubernatorial effort, even as Baker fends off a primary challenge from Mark Fisher. The move is the latest in a line of slaps and slights directed at Fisher, a tea party longshot who has been embroiled in a legal dispute with the state GOP for months. The impact of the move on November’s gubernatorial election is less certain, as the center of gravity in campaign finance is shifting away from candidates and their political parties, and toward unfettered spending by super PACs.
Eight years ago, when Kerry Healey fell to Deval Patrick, the state Republican Party was heavily outgunned by their Democratic rivals: The Republican Party apparatus threw $1.4 million behind Healey’s campaign, compared to the $4.7 million the state Democrats lined up behind Patrick and his running mate, Tim Murray. The 2010 gubernatorial race — Baker’s first tilt at the governor’s office — showed a sharp break in the spending pattern that established itself during the Patrick-Healey contest. State Republican Party spending climbed, while spending by both the state Democratic Party, and the Patrick-Murray ticket, fell sharply. Baker was still outspent by roughly $1 million, because a wave of outside money lined up against the Republican nominee.
The volume of money spent in the 2010 contest was roughly equal to what was spent in 2006, but it came from vastly different sources. The 2010 governor’s race was the first since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened up the gates to unlimited spending by corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals. One public employee union has already spent $125,000 on television ads attacking Baker. Super PACs are lining up behind Baker and Steve Grossman. A pair of other PACs — one controlled by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and the other associated with longtime Democratic activists — are waiting in the wings.
In the post-Citizens United landscape, state political parties that raise money in $5,000 increments are a lot less important than union treasuries and bottomless super PACs. The spending totals from 2010 tell that story clearly. And so do the current bank balances of the two state parties. The Republican State Committee has $210,000 in the bank right now, which will soon be at Baker’s disposal. The Democratic State committee, by comparison, has just $157,000 in the bank. At this point four years ago, the Democrats had banked $642,000.
The state has paid out more than $100 million in settlements and court judgments since 2005, but officials are tight-lipped about why, CommonWealth reports.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh replaces the head of city’s Inspectional Services department after a Boston Globe Spotlight investigation into off-campus student housing. Walsh said that his move had nothing to do with the report. The outgoing ISD chief will take charge of city rezoning efforts.
Greater Boston looks into the growing tension in Somerville over the fear that the face of Union Square will change if city officials follow through on the threat of using eminent domain to spur redevelopment in the neighborhood.
A Quincy city councilor blasted Mayor Thomas Koch‘s budget that includes raises for 67 non-union employees, including a 30 percent hike for the mayor, saying the stalled downtown development makes it a bad time to reward city workers.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is trying to come up with a way to deal with voting stalemates now that there are only four members to deal with Greater Boston issues, CommonWealth reports.
George Carney , the owner of Raynham Park, who lost out on a slots license to Plainridge Racecourse, has filed suit against the Gaming Commission trying to block the license, claiming the disqualified former owner of the track is still profiting.
The Berkshire Eagle is glad that the region has had nothing to do with the discredited casino process.
New York state gambling regulators set a $350 million minimum investment for a proposed casino close to New York City. New York is preparing to license four commercial casinos, on top of its existing racinos.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Gerald Seib finds current public sentiment polls to be remarkably similar to the levels that helped wipe out Democrats during the 2010 midterm elections.
A college graduate from Lynn is urging all undocumented high school students to pursue college, the Item reports.
The MBTA will run weekend commuter boat service between Hingham and Boston with service to the Harbor islands as well beginning May 24 through Columbus Day.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo blames the state’s $12 billion bridge maintenance deficit on a drop in federal funds.
The western Antarctic ice sheet is already beginning to collapse, a catastrophe that could raise sea levels 13 feet and devastate coastal areas, the Guardian reports.
The Asian long-horned beetle is eradicated from Boston, WBUR reports.
US District Court Judge William Young tries to rein in the attorneys at the trial of former Probation commissioner John O’Brien and two top aides, reminding them repeatedly that the case is not about patronage. Meanwhile, House Speaker Robert DeLeo says he has heard nothing official about testifying. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh tells the Herald he doesn’t expect to be called to testify, either.
A judge rules GPS data can be used to track the defendants in an Ipswich murder trial, the Salem News reports.
A Brockton man convicted of killing two people and raping and kidnapping a third victim in a hate-motivated rampage in 2009 committed suicide over the weekend, his third attempt at killing himself after being sentenced to consecutive life terms.
Two former altar boys on Cape Cod have filed suit in Connecticut against the Fall River Diocese and its former bishop for failing to stop a priest from molesting them in the 1970s and 1980s.
A New Hampshire police officer is shot dead responding to a domestic disturbance and then the house explodes and goes up in flames, killing the shooter, the Associated Press reports.
Sports talk station WEEI, which continues to fall in the ratings since the arrival of 98.5 The Sports Hub (WBZ-FM), has once again shaken up its lineup, dumping longtime Red Sox pre- and post-game host John Ryder and removing Mike Muttansky from the midday slot.
Dan Kennedy , writing for the Nieman Journalism Lab, reports on an event hosted by the Washington Post in … Boston.
The Associated Press tries to rein in story lengths, the Washington Post reports.