Keller at Large
Keller at Large
In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller explores Geoff Diehl’s recent gubernatorial campaign announcement, saying the Republican “chose to launch his campaign for governor into one of the blackest news holes of the year, the Sunday of Independence Day weekend.”
Impacts of PFAS, education, veteran/federal affairs committee hearings
10 a.m. | PFAS Interagency Task Force meets virtually to identify impacts of PFAS chemicals on public health and the environment, testing and detection methods and tools for PFAS chemicals in ecosystems, and the threat PFAS chemicals pose when measured at different levels.
12 p.m. | Committee on Education holds public hearing on 50 bills pertaining to vocational-technical education, transportation, special education, school finance, education collaboratives, English learners, extra-curricular programs and school governance.
1 p.m. | Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs holds a public hearing on five bills addressing military spouse-licensure portability, education and enrollment of dependents.
6 p.m. | Joint Committee on Redistricting holds public hearing to hear from residents of the 6th Congressional District.
Allen on top in guv’s race cash game. Can it last?
While the political newcomer may top the field in most funds raised over the past month in the race for Massachusetts governor, the addition of a long-time state senator at the end of June may change the cash game quickly.
Last month was a pivotal month in the race for the state’s top office as two more candidates joined the field. The gubernatorial race is quickly heating up and the fundraising numbers for the month of June show which candidates are managing to draw in small and large donors.
Danielle Allen tops the gubernatorial field with the most total funds raised in June, hauling in $102,872 and leading the pack with $339,941 cash on hand, according to the state’s campaign finance office. Her campaign told MassterList that the fundraising numbers bring the candidate’s second-quarter total to over $260,000.
The Harvard professor has been in the race for about half a month, having launched her campaign outside the State House in mid-June where she critiqued the Baker administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and said she held “core progressive values.”
“We’re excited by the growth of support for the campaign’s and Danielle’s mission to reimagine the future of Our Commonwealth and look forward to growing our organizing first campaign,” Campaign Manager Allen Chen said in a statement to MassterList.
Seven-term state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz hauled in $33,362 during the same period, though she officially launched her campaign on June 23. Her campaign said that she raised over $53,000 in the first week after announcing her bid for governor and that 90 percent of the contributions were $100 or less.
“[Chang-Díaz] is setting the bar for small-dollar fundraising power, with the lowest average donation out of any of the 2022 governor candidates,” Chang-Díaz’s Acting Campaign Manager Joshua Wolfsun said in a statement. “It’s clear that working families across the state are excited for a governor with the experience and urgency to tackle our Commonwealth’s biggest problems head-on.”
The interesting question here is whether or not Allen can keep up the fundraising pace now that Chang-Díaz has jumped in the race. The Boston senator critiqued “Beacon Hill insiders” during her campaign announcement, a message that may appeal to younger voters in Massachusetts who are seeking to change the status quo under the Golden Dome.
Allen, however, boasts a large academic pedigree and previously said she understands “the mechanics of politics.” Allen has not held political office before.
Former State Sen. Ben Downing, who was the first candidate to officially seek the state’s top office in 2022, hauled in $39,408 in June and has $117,316 cash on hand, according to the state’s campaign finance office.
First Republican candidate for governor isn’t Baker
While Baker hasn’t made up his mind on whether to run for another term, at least one Massachusetts Republican has committed to the 2022 gubernatorial race: former State Rep. Geoff Diehl. He announced his campaign at a “Freedom Festival” organized by Western Mass. GOP Patriots where he called for a “new path forward” and questioned the Baker administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports State House News Service’s Michael P. Norton.
Associated Press’ Steve LeBlanc notes that Diehl served as co-chair for former President Donald Trump’s Massachusetts 2016 presidential campaign. More from LeBlanc: “Baker remains popular in the state, but has yet to say whether he will seek a third term. Diehl’s decision could put pressure on Baker to announce whether he will call it a day on Beacon Hill or run for another four years.”
To run or not to run?
That’s the question facing Gov. Charlie Baker and so far no one knows the answer expect for maybe the man himself. But Boston Herald’s Erin Tiernan has some fresh indications of where Baker’s mind might be heading: the Republican brought in his biggest fundraising haul of 2021 in June.
More from Tiernan: “Baker tallied $90,854 in donations last month, according to state campaign finance data — nearly as much as the five prior months combined. The Democratic Governors Association wrote Baker off in April, calling his fundraising efforts ‘anemic.'”
MassGOP wants to bypass Legislature for ‘voter ID law’
Just bypass the Legislature. That’s the thinking within MassGOP as they announced a signature drive to place a “voter ID law” question on the 2022 ballot. Party Chair Jim Lyons, in a July 4 email to members, the party is looking to register 2,000 volunteers to help gather signatures to have the questions qualify as a ballot initiative.
“I’m proud to announce a new campaign aimed at putting the question of whether or not the Commonwealth of Massachusetts should require voters to present identification in order to prove their identity at the ballot box,” the email read. “Yet what’s clear to me, after serving eight years as a state lawmaker, is that Beacon Hill will never so much as debate the merits of voter ID laws, and that’s why we’re taking this question straight to the people.”
From Boston Heralds Erin Tiernan: “Massachusetts does not currently require photo identification at the polls. But 20 states, including Rhode Island and New Hampshire, currently require some form of proof of identity.”
Working through it: Courts face massive backlog as trials poised to resume
Finally. The state’s courts are due to resume jury trials next week and judges say technological solutions borne of necessity during the pandemic — such as remote conferences for procedural issues — will be the key to getting the system back on track and erasing a year-plus-long backlog of cases, Julie Manganis of the Salem News reports.
Defense attorneys in the Berkshires say some of their clients have already been waiting two years for their cases to go to trial and officials there are warning it will likely be well into the fall before significant progress can be made, Greta Jochem of the Berkshire Eagle reports.
New policing guidance standardizes interactions with children
New guidance from a commission formed out of the state’s new police law wasn’t groundbreaking, reports MassLive’s Steph Solis, but it did help standardize procedures in departments across the state on how officers should treat children.
Warning shot: Globe union raises possibility of strike over expired contracts
The Boston Newspaper Guild is warning the Globe’s management that a “super-majority” of its members have expressed support for a possible strike if needed as it and two other unions push back against what they call a “hostile anti-worker posture” from the company. Greg Ryan of the Boston Business Journal has details.
Canned: Taunton mayor says she fired firm that sent divisive email
When in doubt, fire the vendor. Taunton Mayor Shauna O’Connell says she fired an unnamed firm hired to do ‘outreach’ to residents after an email ostensibly about changes to the city charter — but actually seeking campaign donations — led to a page warning about Democrats trying to turn America into a “Marxist-socialist hellscape.” Susannah Sudborough of the Taunton Daily Gazette reports Democrats were outraged that O’Connell, a Republican, had brought national politics down to the grass roots.
Wakefield armed standoff latest
There’s been quite a bit of reporting over the weekend on the bizarre armed standoff that took place on I-95 in Wakefield Saturday. A lot of information has poured in so here’s a few articles that shed light on the situation and catch you up in case you missed anything.
From Boston Globe’s Tonya Alanez and Kate Lusignan, how one of the 11 members went from working on an organic farm to the standoff. More from the reporting pair: “It is unclear what path led [Jamhal Latimer] from organic gardening and legal studies to Saturday’s armed standoff with State Police. His parents, Steven Latimer and Felicia Sanders, said Sunday that he is a nonviolent man deeply committed to helping others.”
From Boston Herald’s Amy Sokolow: “The 11 armed men arrested Saturday morning in a tense standoff with police on a Wakefield stretch of highway have been identified by Massachusetts State Police and are due to make their first appearance in court this week.”
From MassLive’s Michelle Williams: “The group involved in an hours-long armed standoff with Massachusetts State Police that shutdown the roadway Saturday morning are due to appear in court on Tuesday. The situation was resolved ‘through negotiation and tactical maneuvers,’ Massachusetts State Police Colonel Christopher Mason said on Saturday, adding that the group members ‘surrendered without incident.'”
Hitting the road: Striking nurses will take fight to hospital’s parent company
File under: Desperate times. The union representing nurses striking nurses from St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester — who have now been on the picket line for nearly four months — say they’ll send a delegation this week to Dallas, where the facility’s owner, Tenet Healthcare, has its national headquarters, Isabel Sami of the Telegram reports.
Not a lot of staff turnover
Living with a pandemic that changed the way we all operate, socialize, and work is tiresome and stressful. And having to teach during the past year is understandably exhausting. But Telegram & Gazette’s Scott O’Connell reports that local school districts in central Massachusetts say there hasn’t been a ton of staff turnover heading into the upcoming school year.
More from O’Connell: “Many older educators in Worcester struggled to adapt to technology-centered teaching models the district had to pivot to a year ago, Nugent said. In other districts where schools returned to in-person learning before vaccines were available, meanwhile, many teachers worried about their health and safety as COVID-19 cases mounted.”
Massive redo of Government Center Garage could now include a life-sciences building – Boston Globe
Swampscott opposes increased air traffic over town – Lynn Item
Numbers suggest students, teachers need break. Summer school enrollment low in Worcester – Telegram & Gazette
South Hadley officials pick former Fitchburg mayor Lisa Wong as next town administrator – Daily Hampshire Gazette
Trump appears to acknowledge tax schemes while questioning whether alleged violations are crimes – Washington Post
The geriatric Senate confronts a youth movement – Politico
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