FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: POLL TESTS INDEPENDENT BAKER — You may have heard the chatter about GOP Gov. Charlie Baker running for a third term as an independent as his party shifts right. Now there’s new polling from a Democratic firm that looks at his chances if he does.
Baker leads Democrat Maura Healey and Republican Geoff Diehl in a hypothetical 2022 matchup in which he’s on the ballot as an independent, according to a new survey from Democrat-aligned Northwind Strategies and Change Research. Baker received 32 percent support, Healey got 26 percent and Diehl got 21 percent. Another 21 percent were undecided in the poll conducted from Nov. 15-19, with a margin of error of +/- 4.13 percent.
“What this shows is it’s a difficult path, but it’s a viable path if he chooses to run as an independent,” Northwind Strategies founding partner Doug Rubin, who’s unaffiliated in the governor’s race, told me.
The talk about Baker running as an independent is being driven by the headwinds he’s likely to face in a Republican primary against Diehl, a conservative former state representative backed by former President Donald Trump. Baker’s made clear he’s “not in the same place” as his state party’s more conservative leadership. But asked on WCVB’s “On the Record” this month whether he’d run as an independent, Baker said he’s “very comfortable” as a “Bill Weld Republican.”
Yet Baker’s favorability rating is just 23 percent among Republican general-election voters and leaners — 208 of the poll's 789 respondents — while 68 percent view the governor unfavorably. Diehl is viewed favorably by 49 percent of Republicans and leaners, and unfavorably by 10 percent.
Another notable stat: Baker edges Healey 33 percent to 29 percent in a hypothetical matchup between the Republican and the Democratic state attorney general — within the poll’s margin of error. More than a third of respondents were undecided. Both results are similar to last week’s UMass Amherst/WCVB poll.
That's two polls in less than a week. There's clearly mounting interest in Baker's decision on 2022, but he's still not divulging his plans. “I can't believe you're asking me that question,” he told a reporter yesterday.
If you’re looking for clues, Baker's got a fundraiser tonight at Davio’s in Boston. It’s at least his third such event this month.
He’s also got a new finance coordinator. Pamela Saad, a former Baker-Polito campaign intern, is taking over for outgoing Baker-Polito finance coordinator Ryan Del Mastro, campaign spokesperson Jim Conroy confirmed. Saad is listed as the RSVP-taker for tonight’s fundraiser, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO.
Baker’s a solo headliner this evening, his second fundraiser this month without Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. Conroy said Baker and Polito often do fundraisers separately, but raise money for both of their campaign committees at their individual events. Tickets are $250 to $1,000 for the swanky restaurant soiree. Hosts include Joe Fallon, Carlo Basile, Dave Modica and John McCarthy.
GOOD TUESDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. Happy early Thanksgiving! It's been quite a ride these past few months. I'm grateful for the opportunity to show up in your inbox every morning.
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TODAY — Baker and Polito attend the Firefighter of the Year Awards at 10 a.m. in Worcester. State Senate hopeful Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards hosts an endorsement event with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and state legislators at 9:30 a.m. outside the State House. Wu is on GBH’s “Boston Public Radio” at noon, attends a Thanksgiving dinner in the South End at 2 p.m. and gives remarks at the Macy’s Christmas tree lighting at 4:15 p.m. Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Jim McGovern join state lawmakers for Monte’s March in the morning. Markey makes stops in Greenfield at 1:30 p.m. and Worcester at 4 p.m.
– “Massachusetts reports 6,801 coronavirus cases over the weekend, another surge ahead of Thanksgiving,” by Rick Sobey, Boston Herald: “The 6,801 infection tally was an increase of 1,553 cases over last weekend’s three-day total of 5,248 and continued a trend of upward moving case numbers.”
– GOTTA GO MY OWN WAY: Fall River and New Bedford have officially broken up. Gov. Charlie Baker signed the congressional redistricting map that puts all of Fall River in Rep. Jake Auchincloss’s 4th District and keeps all of New Bedford in Rep. Bill Keating’s 9th District, ending the contentious debate over whether the two South Coast cities hold more sway if they're in the same district.
Auchincloss vowed to put a “unified Fall River front and center” in a statement from a spokesperson. He was part of the contingent arguing for Fall River — which was split roughly in half between the 4th and 9th Districts — to be reunited and put fully in the 4th District to increase its advocacy power. Having all of Fall River in his district also helps Auchincloss politically.
The Drawing Democracy Coalition, which had pushed for Fall River and New Bedford to be coupled in the 9th District, lamented the “missed opportunity to pave the way for more authentic representation.” But coalition spokesperson Beth Huang, executive director of the Massachusetts Voter Table, said it’s not a Voting Rights Act violation.
Rep. Lori Trahan praised mapmakers’ efforts. Shifts in her 3rd District include excising Andover, home to her former Democratic rival Dan Koh, who’s now Labor Secretary Marty Walsh’s chief of staff in D.C.
– “House Ready To Call Some Workers Back To State House,” by Chris Lisinski, State House News Service (paywall): “All House officers and staff will need to be ‘available and able to work in person at the State House as a condition of their employment’ starting Dec. 13 … Officers or employees who remain out of compliance as of 5 p.m. on Dec. 13 will be placed on unpaid administrative leave for up to five days or until they come into compliance. Anyone still out of line on Dec. 20 will then be placed on unpaid leave for an additional 10 days, even if they submit vaccination proof or an exemption request during that period. By Jan. 4, one day before the scheduled start of formal sessions for 2022, employees who still have not complied ‘will remain on indefinite unpaid administrative leave and may be subject to further disciplinary action.’”
– “Poll shows public support for election reforms,” by Christian M. Wade, CNHI/Gloucester Daily Times: “Good government groups are urging lawmakers to authorize same-day voter registration and other updates to the state’s election laws, pointing to a new poll showing strong public support for the measures. A University of Massachusetts at Amherst poll, released Friday, found a majority of voters support making vote-by-mail a permanent option for registered voters, allowing people to register to vote and cast ballots on Election Day and automatically mailing absentee ballot applications to voters.”
– “Holiday shopping sales on the rebound in Massachusetts after tough pandemic year,” by Erin Tiernan, Boston Herald: “Holiday shopping is on the rebound here, where Main Street businesses are expected to see a 6% boost in sales over last year’s bleak season amid a formidable new wave of the coronavirus. ‘There are tremendous opportunities for people to shop local, to eat local, to dine local, to buy local, and to recognize when you shop, eat, dine local, you’re supporting your neighbors, your colleagues, your friends and folks that are part of the communities that you live and work in,’ Gov. Charlie Baker said.”
– “With high vaccination rate, Massachusetts residents should enjoy Thanksgiving celebrations, Gov. Charlie Baker says,” by Alison Kuznitz, MassLive: “People should enjoy their Thanksgiving celebrations this year in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday morning as he noted almost 5 million people in the commonwealth are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. But ahead of festive gatherings, Baker cautioned, people should consider taking a rapid at-home COVID test to protect family members who are unvaccinated or vulnerable to developing serious virus-related complications.”
– “With first official ordinance, Mayor Wu divests Boston from fossil fuels,” by Sabrina Shankman, Boston Globe: “Mayor Michelle Wu of Boston signed a measure to divest city funds from the fossil fuel industry on Monday, adding Boston to the small number of major US cities that have taken the step to combat the climate crisis. After running on a Green New Deal for Boston — and advocating for divestment during her time as city councilor — it is perhaps fitting that this law is the first that Wu has signed since being sworn in as mayor last week. At the signing on Monday, Wu said the ordinance was ‘making history for the city of Boston, and really setting the tone for the rest of the country.’”
– “Teamsters boss goes one-on-one with Herald on jobs, supply chain, Martin Walsh,” by Joe Dwinell and Erin Tiernan, Boston Herald: “Two guys from Boston now have the most important labor jobs in the country, and Sean O’Brien said he’s ready to tackle the supply chain crunch, hiring woes and getting in sync with Labor Secretary Martin Walsh. … ‘Two Boston guys can solve a lot of problems,’ he added, including Walsh in that equation. ‘We have a great relationship.’”
– “Judge dismisses all criminal charges against former leaders of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home,” by Andrea Estes, Boston Globe: “A Hampden Superior Court judge on Monday dismissed all criminal charges against two former top officials of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, where at least 76 veterans died from COVID-19, saying there was no ‘reasonably trustworthy evidence' that their actions harmed veterans. A grand jury indicted former superintendent Bennett Walsh and ex-medical director Dr. David Clinton in September 2020 for putting elderly veterans at risk of contracting COVID. … [State Attorney General Maura] Healey’s office said it was considering whether to appeal.” The Springfield Republican’s Stephanie Barry has more.
– “Massachusetts letting millions in tolls go uncollected since electronic tolling began,” by Mike Beaudet, WCVB: “The billing system that has taken the tolls' place has let tens of millions of dollars in unpaid tolls go uncollected. In all, the unpaid tolls continue to add up, $122 million owed to Massachusetts and counting.”
– “‘Flights are totally full’: Nearly 1 million passengers expected to pass through Logan Airport this week,” by Michael Yoshida and Justin Bourke, 7 News: “Officials say they anticipate between 800,000 to 900,000 passengers at the Boston airport, making it one of the busiest holiday travel seasons in almost two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
– “‘This relief currently has an expiration date, but parenting does not’: Senator Markey calls for extending child tax credit,” by Stephanie Ebbert, Boston Globe: “Senator Edward J. Markey joined health providers at Boston Medical Center on Monday to call for an extension of the Child Tax Credit, a federal program that has provided monthly checks to families with children since July but is due to expire next month. … More than 1 million children in Massachusetts have qualified, receiving payments totaling $265 million in November alone, Markey said.”
– “Rep. Katherine Clark Selling Melrose Home, Moving To Revere,” by Mike Carraggi, Patch: “One of the most powerful politicians from Massachusetts is on the move — but not too far. U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark confirmed Monday afternoon she's leaving her longtime home in Melrose, saying her family will ‘downsize’ and move to Revere. … ‘While Melrose will always be a very special place for us, I'm excited to call another incredible city in the Fifth District home,’ [Clark said in a statement].”
– “Biden crosses liberals to renominate Powell as Fed chairman, keeping a crisis-tested veteran to tackle inflation,” by Jim Puzzanghera, Boston Globe: “Senator Elizabeth Warren and other leading progressives have received a lot of love from President Biden on policies and appointments, but he crossed them in a major way on Monday by announcing he would nominate Jerome Powell for another term as head of the Federal Reserve. Warren and several other high-profile Democrats, including Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, publicly opposed giving Powell four more years as chairman of the central bank’s board of governors…”
– “Preparations ramping up for Biden visit,” by Joshua Balling, Inquirer and Mirror: “Security measures ramped up significantly this weekend in advance of Biden's arrival Tuesday for his family's annual Thanksgiving visit to the island. President Biden and first lady Jill Biden are scheduled to take part in a service project in Washington, D.C. before flying to Nantucket Tuesday evening.”
– “When it comes to climate goals, could a little-known Mass. official hold the state’s feet to the fire?” by Nik DeCosta-Klipa, Boston.com: “In the movement to address climate change, that reality — the gap between talk and action — has been reinforced from the recent COP26 conference to Massachusetts … Chris Dempsey, a candidate for state auditor, thinks he could fill the gap. If elected, Dempsey says he would incorporate carbon accounting into the office’s audits of state agencies.”
– “‘That star continues to shine brightly’: Springfield keeps memory of President John F. Kennedy alive on 58th anniversary of his assassination,” by Peter Goonan, Springfield Republican: “Area residents and dignitaries gathered Monday at the late President John F. Kennedy’s memorial at Forest Park, helping to keep his memory alive on the 58th anniversary of his assassination.”
– “Berkshire DA Harrington part of effort to shed light on plea deals,” by Shira Schoenberg, CommonWealth Magazine: “Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington is participating in a unique national pilot program to track what goes into negotiating plea deals by prosecutors in her office. If she discovers race plays a role, she won’t be surprised.”
– “After a pornographic Zoom bombing rattles a Berkshire Hills school meeting, Stockbridge Police say they're investigating. And they've got some leads,” by Heather Bellow, Berkshire Eagle: “Police investigating a Zoom bombing Thursday in which three people invaded a Berkshire Hills Regional School District School Committee meeting with visual pornography say they have made some progress with their probe.”
– “Less than a fifth of Mass. biopharma employees are people of color, new survey shows,” by Sarah Betancourt, GBH News: “The last few years saw inconsistent but clear gains for women at Massachusetts biopharma companies, while racial diversity is paltry, according to a new survey released by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio) last week. The survey, which examined diversity, equity and inclusion at biopharma companies statewide, found that just 15% of the biopharma workforce is Black or brown, compared to 32% of Massachusetts residents.”
– “48% of Massachusetts residents support more racial inequality education in schools; poll suggests majority of state satisfied with schooling quality,” by Cassie McGrath, MassLive: “About half of Massachusetts residents support more racial inequality education in schools, a new poll from the University of Massachusetts Amherst/WCVB suggests. In a question asking how much emphasis should be placed on teaching about racial inequality in public elementary and secondary schools, 48% said there should be more emphasis on teaching about racial inequality, 28% said there should be less emphasis and 24% said the emphasis should be kept about the same.”
– “Worcester State University criticized for response to racial slur found in a dorm,” by Henry Schwan, Worcester Telegram & Gazette: “Some Worcester State University students said Monday they are disappointed in the school’s response to a racial slur that targeted Black students. The slur, scrawled on a dormitory window last week, is not the first time the university faced a damaging racial message, some students said.”
– “Scandals, lawsuits leave Fall River Police Department in turmoil,” by Eli Sherman and Tim White, WPRI: “At least nine Fall River officers – including some top-ranking ones – have fallen under legal, departmental and public scrutiny for police misconduct in recent years, spurring internal turmoil and causing ripple effects across the region’s criminal justice system.”
TRANSITIONS – Dave Cavell is now chief speechwriter and senior advisor to Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. Cavell was previously a 4th District congressional candidate, aide to state AG Maura Healey and President Barack Obama speechwriter.
MIT finance professor Haoxiang Zhu will lead the SEC’s Trading and Markets division beginning next month. Northeastern University economics professor John Kwoka will be chief economist to FTC Chair Lina Khan.
BOSTON REUNION – Emma Riley is now traveling assistant to Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. Riley was communications chief of staff at the White House and served as a press aide to Walsh in Boston. (Riley’s tweet).
HAPPY BIRTHDAY – to Keith Boynton, Tory Stephens, Joel McAuliffe and Matt Stromski.
HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY – to Sonia Ballard, who celebrates Wednesday; Leah Regan and Allie Strom, who celebrate Thursday; Ben Gubits and Bob Dunn, who celebrate Friday; Boston Business Journal’s Catherine Carlock and Andy Hoglund, who celebrate Saturday; and to Sunday birthday-ers Sarina Tracy and Doug Rubin of Northwind Strategies, Deloitte’s John Kim, former state Rep. Louis Kafka, Nicole Dungca, Baker press secretary Terry MacCormack, Erin Forry and Glen Johnson.
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