Another day, another candidate in the race for Massachusetts governor not named Baker. Or Healey, for that matter.
With today’s campaign launch by Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, three Democrats have now formally announced bids for the state’s top job. The Jamaica Plain lawmaker joins former Senate colleague Ben Downing and Harvard professor Danielle Allen in the race for the Democratic nomination.
On the Republican side, former state rep Geoff Diehl seems to be gearing up for a potential run.
While the race starts to heat up, the campaign is missing the two would-be marquee candidates with proven statewide appeal.
Pundits have claimed that Healey, a popular second-term attorney general, would be the instant frontrunner for the Democratic nomination — if she gets in the race. So far, however, she has been content to hold back an announcement, while nonetheless hopscotching around the state, maintaining a high profile at events that seem tangentially related, at best, to her official duties as AG.
Baker, meanwhile, has brushed off questions about whether he’ll seek a third term, suggesting his answer will come later this year.
That’s left prognosticators to pore over fundraising reports for any breadcrumbs pointing toward what Baker may do.
Lately, that has meant remarking on his anemic numbers, with $41,000 in donations in January representing the high water mark for Baker’s monthly receipts so far in 2021. In May, he seemed to be raising money at the rate of Chicopee city councilor, with a total haul of just $3,400, his lowest monthly total of the year.
But June seems likely to show a reversal of those declining monthly fortunes: Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito are slated to appear at a joint in-person fundraiser after work today at the UMass Club in downtown Boston.
Intriguingly, the invitation notes that the maximum contribution to the Polito committee is $1,000 per person and $2,000 per couple per calendar year. “If you have already contributed the maximum amount to the Polito committee,” it continues, “the Baker committee is also able to receive $1,000 per person/$2,000 per couple per calendar year.”
At first blush, the fine print seems to offer some clues about campaign plans, with donations to Baker framed more as a fallback for those who have maxed out to his lieutenant governor. But there’s actually less to it than meets the eye.
If Baker and Polito run for reelection, they can draw on funds from both of their campaign accounts, but if Baker bows out and Polito runs for governor, his account would be off-limits to her. In other words, having the default for donations be to give to her account simply keeps their options open — it doesn’t necessarily signal that Baker is out.
That helps explain why Polito is sitting on four times as much money as Baker, with $2 million in her account to his $484,000.
Healey, meanwhile, has a cool $3 million on hand.
The dough show is impressive, but what matters of course is whether they jump in the mix and run.
Some speculate that Healey would be eager to run in an open race, but less keen to take on Baker. For his part, Baker may already have made up his mind but decided either way that it’s better to delay an announcement, reducing the time that he’s either a lame duck or a full-on target for Democrats.
While the heavyweights dither, give points to Chang-Diaz, Downing, and Allen for getting in the ring and starting to make their respective cases to voters.
Voc school enrollment changes: The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved new policies designed to increase minority enrollment at popular vocational schools, but critics said the measures don’t go far enough. The new policy bars schools from using admissions criteria that have a disproportionate impact on minority groups unless they can demonstrate that they are essential to participation in the school’s instruction.
— Voc schools with more applicants than seats are allowed to score applicants on the basis of middle school grades, attendance, discipline history, and a guidance counselor’s recommendations. The new regulations prohibit schools from using excused absences or minor disciplinary infractions in their admission rankings.
— Critics said the changes didn’t go far enough, suggesting grades and other selection criteria are influenced by race. The critics called for schools to use lotteries to select students. Sen. John Cronin of Lunenburg said he was troubled the state board was allowing voc schools to craft their own admissions policies. Read more.
Chang-Diaz is in: After giving it some thought out of the limelight, Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz of Jamaica Plain jumped into the Democratic race for governor with a video announcement followed by campaign stops scheduled today in Springfield, Worcester, and Boston. The video portrays the senator as impatient for change and someone willing to buck the Beacon Hill establishment. She has been heavily involved in some major issues on Beacon Hill — police reform, criminal justice reform, and education funding. Read more.
Tug of war over federal funds: The House rejected a proposal from Gov. Charlie Baker to split oversight of roughly $5 billion in federal funds, with the governor calling the shots on $2.8 billion and leaving the balance to the Legislature to distribute. Instead, the House voted to take control of nearly all of the money, giving Baker control over just $200 million. House leaders are promising a lengthy budget-like process to determine how best to distribute the funds. Baker had wanted quicker action to kickstart the state’s economic recovery. One big question mark: Can the Legislature, assuming the Senate follows the House’s lead, think strategically about the funds and not get caught up in an earmarking frenzy. Read more.
Atrius sadness, concerns: With for-profit Optum seeking to buy the nonprofit Atrius physician network, Paul Hattis is worried. The acquisition is the focus of a Health Policy Commission meeting later this week. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
A showdown over how state law treats gig economy workers broke into the open yesterday, and the issue could end up on the state ballot next year. (Boston Globe)
A legislative panel takes testimony on a bill that would require employers to disclose their pay scale to job applicants rather than asking the applicants what their salary expectations are. (State House News Service)
City Councilor and mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell blasts the Boston city budget proposed by Acting Mayor Kim Janey, saying it doesn’t differ significantly from the spending plan Janey herself voted against last year as a city councilor, and says she’ll vote to reject it. (Boston Globe)
A private investigation into complaints filed against Sefatia Romeo Theken determined that profane language used at work by the mayor of Gloucester did not violate the law but did break city rules and standards of conduct. (Gloucester Times)
The Beverly Parks and Recreation Commission rejected a proposal to close city parks earlier in response to noise complaints. A unanimous vote supported keeping or extending current hours and eliminating fines for violations. (Salem News)
Massachusetts reaches Gov. Charlie Baker’s goal of having 4.1 million residents vaccinated against COVID-19. (WBUR)
Doris Rodriguez of Lawrence joined the city’s now five-person mayoral race. She last campaigned in 2014 for a state Senate seat, but collected only 10 percent of her district’s vote. (Eagle-Tribune)
Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams was in the lead with 32 percent in the first round of vote-counting in the Democratic primary for mayor in New York, which is using ranked-choice voting for the first time. One-time presidential candidate Andrew Yang proved to be something of a flash-in-the-pan, fading from the top of polls to garner just 12 percent and conceding the race. (New York Times)
All six major Boston mayoral candidates have signed a pledge pushed by a union and local developers supporting union jobs, equal pay, and energy efficiency in real estate development. (Dorchester Reporter)
Retailers say a bill heard Monday that would allow online lottery sales would hurt mom-and-pop stores. Lottery officials, who have the support of Gov. Baker, argue the modernization would maximize unrestricted aid to cities and towns. (Eagle-Tribune)
More evidence that the pandemic is reshaping the work world for the long term: In a new survey from the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, More than 4 out of 5 Massachusetts employers say they will allow employees to work remotely or in some kind of hybrid structure going forward. (Boston Globe)
State education Commissioner Jeff Riley said he’s troubled by the chaos on the Boston School Committee, which has seen four members resign since last October, and is considering putting a temporary hold on millions of dollars in federal relief money slated to come to the district. (Boston Herald)
Lawyers for Black journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones say she won’t assume her teaching position at the University of North Carolina unless she receives tenure. The school, which in the past offered previous holders of her position tenure, instead offered her a five-year contract. (NC Policy Watch)