IT WAS THE marquee showdown for governor that never happened.
For months, Republican Charlie Baker kept political watchers guessing whether he’d seek a third term as governor. On the Democratic side, all eyes were on the state’s two-term attorney general, Maura Healey, as the presumptive favorite for her party’s gubernatorial nomination, but she was in no hurry to show her hand.
Many speculated that Healey was waiting to see what the state’s popular governor would do, and was not eager to go head-to-head against him. Finally, in December 2021, Baker announced that he wouldn’t run again. The next month Healey said she was in, and she barely broke a sweat on her way to an easy victory, becoming the first woman elected to the corner office.
Now, in something of a proxy battle for the gubernatorial match-up that never was, Baker and Healey are on opposite sides in a special election for state Senate that may test the strength of their respective brands.
Over the summer, Healey endorsed Democratic state Rep. Jon Zlotnik of Gardner, who is vying in the November 7 election for the seat vacated by Democrat Anne Gobi when she joined the Healey administration. This week, Baker, now president of the NCAA, threw in with Zlotnik’s Republican opponent, state Rep. Peter Durant of Spencer.
In a recent analysis of voting patterns in the Central Mass. district, political data cruncher Brent Benson showed why the race is a toss-up by the numbers. “Given that the fundamentals point to an evenly split race,” he wrote in CommonWealth, other, less tangible factors, such as candidate quality and voter outreach efforts “will likely be the determining factors in the Worcester and Hampshire state Senate race.”
Add to that mix of determining factors competing endorsements from the state’s current and former governor.
At odds in City Hall, rivals unite behind State House lawmaker
When it comes to political battles in Boston, Michelle Wu and Marty Walsh can often be found on opposite sides.
Voters haven’t seen a head-to-head ballot royale, due to the former mayor’s departure for the Biden administration in 2021. As Wu topped the mayoral preliminary and headed towards a November victory that year, Walsh publicly stayed out of the fray, though he messaged fellow Dorchester resident Annissa Essaibi George wishing her well the day before her election loss to Wu.
With Walsh now atop the NHL players union, he’s returned to politicking, endorsing Jose Ruiz, once a member of his mayoral security detail, for the City Council’s District 5 seat representing Hyde Park and Roslindale. Wu is backing Enrique Pepen, a former City Hall aide who topped the ticket in the September’s preliminary, in the race.
But Wu and Walsh were recently on the same side, or at least together at the top of a fundraising invitation, for Rep. Chris Worrell, a Dorchester Democrat, this fall. They joined former acting mayor Kim Janey on the invite to a September 24 fundraiser inside a real estate developer’s Dorchester home.
Before he won the House seat in 2022, Worrell worked for the Boston Planning and Development Agency under Wu, Janey, and Walsh.
Wu attended the fundraiser, as did a number of current and former elected officials, including Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, the chairman of the House budget committee. (Janey and Walsh were both traveling and couldn’t make it themselves.)
When a reporter noted the rarity of having both Wu and Walsh on the same fundraiser invite, the Dorchester native chuckled and said he is known as a bridge-builder. “I remember growing up, this person might have a beef with that person on this street, but I was cool with both of them,” Worrell said. “That’s the same attitude I have now.”
Boston liquor license bill on the move
Weeks after some state lawmakers questioned Boston’s bid for more liquor licenses, a bill that would bring 250 such licenses to certain ZIP codes has taken another step forward.
Worrell, the sponsor of the House bill, said the Consumer Protection Committee favorably reported out the legislation, and its next stop is Ways and Means. Asked about a timeline for passage, Worrell said, “I’m feeling confident and trusting the process.”
Worrell and other supporters, including Mayor Michelle Wu, have said the licenses are a way to build generational wealth, as well as bring more dining options to neighborhoods beyond Boston’s wealthier areas. The proposed ZIP codes include Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury neighborhoods.
A liquor license can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, a figure driven by scarcity.
During an October 3 committee hearing, some lawmakers noted that Boston had received 75 licenses in 2014. But city officials argued there aren’t enough. Their contention was backed up by Lesley Delaney Hawkins, chair of the Prince Lobel law firm’s restaurant and the hospital industry group. “The demand for licenses is higher than I’ve ever seen in the city of Boston,” she said, according to the State House News Service.
MICHAEL JONAS AND GINTAUTAS DUMCIUS
Menstrual equity: The Senate, for the second legislative session in a row, passes a menstrual period equity bill, which would provide menstrual products free of charge to public schools, prisons, and homeless shelters. Read more.
Somerset plant clears hurdle: A proposed transmission cable manufacturing plant in Somerset to serve the US offshore wind industry cleared a major hurdle on Thursday when the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously to revise one of the conditions that had become a sticking point with the company. Instead of requiring all ships loading cable at the facility to operate on electricity when in port at Brayton Point, the board allowed Prysmian Group to bring in one ship a year that could operate using diesel engines.
– At a 5½ hour hearing, the board heard pro-and-con testimony from a community split between those eager to bring in a company promising 300 jobs and $9 million a year in tax revenue and those, primarily neighbors of Brayton Point, who don’t want to smell diesel fumes. The cable-laying ships when in port picking up the cable operate around the clock for 10 to 14 days.
– The Prysmian plant is considered one of the big prizes of the emerging US offshore wind industry, and Somerset has been under intense pressure from state and federal officials to green-light the project. Read more.
Avangrid dodges write-downs: Avangrid CEO Pedro Azagra tells financial analysts the company was able to terminate offshore wind contracts in Massachusetts and Connecticut at “minimum cost” and avoid more than $2 billion in write-downs. Read more.
Auditor chides sex offender board: State Auditor Diana DiZoglio’s office finds that the Sex Offender Registry Board did not implement several recommendations from a 2017 audit to improve classifying and tracking procedures for convicted sex offenders. Read more.
How did we get here? Bahar Akman Imboden of the Hildreth Institute traces the origins of the college affordability crisis in Massachusetts. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Boston officials are preparing to remove the tent encampment near Mass. and Cass – and vow to and prevent it from popping up somewhere else. (WBUR)
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is touting the promise of accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, as part of the solution to Boston’s housing crunch. (Dorchester Reporter) CommonWealth covered Gov. Maura Healey’s pitch to allow ADUs by right in her new housing bond bill.
Arlington became the largest community to adopt new zoning allowing for denser housing development under the state’s MBTA Communities law. (Boston Globe)
Bourne is considering allowing recreational marijuana sales or maintaining its existing ban for the fifth time in recent years. (Cape Cod Times)
Signature Healthcare is opening a new facility in East Bridgewater. (The Enterprise)
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute filed a “letter of intent” with the Boston Planning and Development Agency, saying they’ll offer more detail around their plans to demolish the Joslin Diabetes Center and build a new 14-story building. (Universal Hub)
A manhunt is still underway for 40-year-old Robert Card, who is suspected of killing 18 people in multiple Maine shootings on Wednesday. Gov. Maura Healey pledged Massachusetts human services and law enforcement support if their northern neighbor needs additional assistance. (State House News Service) US Rep. Jared Golden of Lewiston, one of only four House Democrats to vote against a 2022 bill banning certain assault weapons, says he’s flipping his position in the wake of Wednesday’s mass shootings and believes assault weapons should be banned. (Boston Herald)
Neither incumbent Gloucester Mayor Greg Verga nor his challenger, Mary Ellen Rose, are big fans of the MBTA Communities law, which became the focus of a campaign debate. (Gloucester Times)
The Boston Herald says the Boston City Council needs a law enforcement voice and endorses former Boston police officer Jose Ruiz in the race for the district council seat representing Hyde Park and Roslindale.
The Worcester Telegram runs through candidate spending in the city’s contested mayoral and city council races.
Marijuana businesses have hired superlawyer David Boies to sue US Attorney General Merrick Garland in an effort to remove restrictions in the federal Controlled Substances Act. The suit was filed in Springfield, arguing the prohibition of marijuana “exceeds congressional authority over interstate commerce by interfering with state-based businesses that don’t operate across state lines,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Before the pandemic, more people moved to Massachusetts from Connecticut than from Massachusetts to Connecticut. The Boston Business Journal reports that now the reverse is true, and the “pipeline grew even though Massachusetts lost fewer net residents on the whole in 2022 than it did in 2021.”
After refusing to leave the Whitmore administration building at UMass Amherst, 57 students and one administrator are arrested on trespassing charges. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
A federal appeals court vacated a 2022 drug conviction – resulting in a 16-year prison sentence – after finding a Worcester police officer violated the accused’s Miranda rights. (Worcester Telegram)
CommonWealth is rebranding and expanding as CommonWealth Beacon. (Media Nation)
The Boston Globe is treating the mass shootings in Maine as a local story, while the Sun Journal in Lewiston and the Portland Press Herald have dropped their paywalls. (Media Nation)