Happening Today:

8:30 a.m. | Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll attends a launch event for the Women's Leadership Initiative at Massasoit Community College. | Massasoit Community College Canton, 900 Randolph St., Canton

5:30 p.m. | Boston Housing Authority tenants and allies join Greater Boston Interfaith Organization members for a rally calling on top Senate Democrats to increase funding for public housing. | West Broadway Housing Development, 115 Orton Marotta Way, Boston

6 p.m. | Congressman Seth Moulton hosts a public town hall. | Beverly Council on Aging, 90 Colon St., Beverly

6:30 p.m. | MassDOT hosts a virtual meeting of the I-90 Allston Multimodal Project to discuss the proposed megaproject involving highway, rail and pedestrian infrastructure along a narrow strip of land along the Charles River in Allston.

This Kennedy has never appeared on a Massachusetts ballot, nor does he call the state home, but Robert F. Kennedy Jr. chose to make his announcement for president in the state where the Kennedys became a political dynasty. 

And “Why not?” asked former Democratic political consultant Tobe Berkovitz.

“With older voters that name still has a certain caché,” said Berkovitz, an associate professor of advertising emeritus at Boston University who’s consulted on state and national campaigns.

And yet Massachusetts voters didn’t buy the Kennedy brand in 2020 when they served the Kennedy family its first-ever loss in the state, re-electing Sen. Ed Markey over then-Rep. Joseph Kennedy III — RFK Jr.’s nephew.

RFK Jr. leaned into his Kennedy connection during his nearly two-hour-long meandering campaign launch speech, but members of the family whose name he so liberally invoked were conspicuously absent on Wednesday.  A few of his siblings have publicly rebuked his anti-vaccine views. Other Kennedy relatives are currently working for the Biden administration and several family members have already backed President Joe Biden for a second term.

Missing also were the who’s who of the Massachusetts Democratic elite. Former Democratic Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich gave the intro.

And who were the faces in the crowd at Wednesday’s presidential campaign launch? Many were people one would never imagine voting for a Kennedy.

Two-time Trump voter Rita Palma of Long Island spent the last presidential campaign knocking on doors for the former president but told MASSterList she’s ready to roll up her “45” flags and go “all in” for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 

Palma, who’s affiliated with the My Kids, My Choice group pushing for vaccine exemptions and with the New York chapter of the anti-vaccine group Children’s Health Defense, said there are many like her who are going blue for RFK Jr.

Patience Warnick of Florida is one. An unenrolled voter with Libertarian and Republican leanings, she traveled to the campaign launch with lifelong Republican Diana McKamey of Indiana. Both women cited vaccine autonomy and media censorship as major issues.

Michael Keane of Brookline, who described himself as a “far-right” Republican, said he’s drawn to RFK’s “common-sense message of personal freedom.”

Eighteen-year-old Ryan Rookey of Connecticut said he’s looking for “a Democrat that is for social programs like health care as well as protecting personal freedoms and liberties.”

Democratic operative John Gilmore of New York, who founded the pro-RFK Jr. super PAC American Values 2024, was also among supporters.

A new Suffolk University/USA Today poll shows RFK Jr. has support from 14% of Biden voters, which Berkovitz said shows “somewhat of a niche for him and his unique brand of politics for people who are disillusioned by Biden as president.”

With so many Republican and unenrolled voters among the ranks of supporters, Berkovitz said the question remains as to who will show up for RFK Jr. on Primary Day.

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MBTA watch 🚇

Days since the last derailment, fire, crash, falling debris, or critical incident: 2

Days with localized speed restrictions: 41

Days without “normal” weekday subway service: 302

On Jan. 5, Gov. Healey pledged to hire a new MBTA Transportation Safety Chief within 60 days. It has now been 106 days without the position being filled.

On the ballot: A Kennedy for president

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. officially launched his presidential bid Wednesday at Boston Park Plaza by telling a crowd of several hundred supporters that it’s time for the nation to return “a Kennedy Democrat” to the White House. The Boston Globe’s Emma Platoff reports that this Kennedy comes with a conspiracy theory-laden agenda including anti-vaccine rhetoric. 

The Boston Globe | The Boston Herald | Fox News

Poll shows Robert F. Kennedy Jr. resonates with some Biden voters

A USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll released the same day Robert F. Kennedy Jr. officially launched his presidential campaign in Boston show the has the support of 14% of voters who backed President Joe Biden in 2020. Reporters for USA TODAY  called it “surprising strength” for a candidate with a famous political name who is now known for championing a debunked conspiracy theory blaming childhood vaccines for autism.


What competition? One-way race to the Legislature in Boston’s 9th Suffolk district

Massachusetts has a reputation for serving up races with little competition but the situation in the 9th Suffolk district is still an outlier. John Moran is poised to sail to victory with zero competition after former Rep. Jon Santiago resigned to join the Healey administration as secretary of veterans affairs. It’s the first time in 40 years an incumbent won’t be in the running, writes Michael Jonas for Commonwealth Magazine. 

Commonwealth Magazine

Apartment crunch: Rents surge as vacancies near record lows

Renters in the Boston market are facing some of the worst-ever conditions for apartment hunting, reports Andrew Brinker for The Boston Globe. Rent prices are surging to pre-pandemic levels as vacancy rates bottom out and lawmakers slow-walk solutions.

The Boston Globe

Alleged anti-trans post stymies second choice for Easthampton superintendent

The search for a superintendent in a western Massachusetts city has soured. School committee members rejected the first-choice candidate after he invoked the term “ladies” in an email to certain members, who later controversially rescinded his offer. The second-choice candidate has since pulled out of the running, reports Luis Fieldman for MassLive, after a student found anti-trans Facebook posts allegedly written by the runner-up.


MBTA on notice with feds again following 5 ‘near misses’ on tracks 

The T is in hot water with federal regulators once again following five “near misses” between trains and workers on tracks in recent weeks, writes WBUR. A letter to MBTA officials on Tuesday mandated “immediate action” to address glaring issues inspectors identified.

WBURUniversal Hub | State House News Service

Blue line slow zones could be in effect through November

Slow zones that have stymied commutes across the MBTA subway system for more than a month could plague Blue Line commuters through November, the MBTA said. To achieve an end to the slow zones on the line, officials said they will end service early on several nights in the next month to accelerate necessary repairs, GBH reports.

GBH | State House News Service

Air Force strips Cape Cod of intelligence duties following leak

After a Massachusetts national guardsman allegedly leaked classified information via an online forum, the Air Force has stripped a Cape Cod Air National Guard unit of its intelligence mission, Travis Andersen of The Boston Globe reports.  Airman Jack D. Teixeira, who is facing charges, was in court this week.

Stars and Stripes | The Boston Globe | CBS Boston

Ahead of Earth Day, Healey delivers more money for municipal climate initiatives 

The Healey administration will pump up funding for green initiatives to help 30 cities and towns upgrade their climate resiliency plans through an equity lens, the governor announced on Wednesday. The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program doles out grants to municipalities to complete climate change vulnerability assessments and develop “action-oriented” resiliency plans that are specific to their community, Sam Drysdale of State House News Service reports.

State House News Service

ACLU blasts North Brookfield in latest dustup over drag performance

The American Civil Liberties Union is crying foul after the North Brookfield Select Board reversed an earlier decision and refused to grant permission to include a drag performance during an upcoming Small Town Pride event. The Telegram’s Jeff Chamer reports the board asserts the performance would be “adult entertainment”  and therefore not allowed on the town common.

Telegram & Gazette

It’s 4/20: Where’s all that cannabis impact money? 

As the cannabis industry celebrates its high holiday, Denise Coffey tries to find out where the $52 million worth of impact fees that the industry says communities that host pot dispensaries have received and finds the cash easier to track in some communities than others. Regulatory changes recently approved by lawmakers could soon help bring clarity, though, as the Cannabis Control Commission readies new rules.

The Cape Cod Times

Meanwhile, Lynn says it will use at least $200,000 worth of funds raised through agreements with pot shops to upgrade traffic signals at intersections near dispensaries. 

The Item

Fair warning: Holyoke mayor says anti-blight task force is on the cash 

Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia is warning residents that the city’s newly formed Flex Squad will be actively enforcing local anti-blight rules, including issuing fines if necessary. MassLive’s Dennie Hohenberger reports Garcia formed the team of code enforcers in January, borrowing the idea from Springfield amid a rise in graffiti and other eyesores in some neighborhoods.


If voters abide, Great Barrington could upgrade bowling alley that inspired “The Big Lebowski” 

Town meeting voters in Great Barrington will be asked to approve $50,000 in improvements to The Cove bowling alley–a local historic landmark that many believe inspired the 1998 Coen brothers film “The Big Lebowski.” As Heather Bellow of the Berkshire Eagle reports, the alley would get a new sprinkler system and other upgrades if voters agree to spend Community Preservation Act funds on the alley, where the Coen brothers were said to hang out while attending nearby Bard College at Simon’s Rock.

The Berkshire Eagle

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MASSterList editor Erin Tiernan is an award-winning reporter who brings a decade's worth of experience covering state and local politics from the halls of the State House to city streets. Her work can be found in The Boston Herald, The Patriot Ledger, MassLive and Wicked Local. She was the New England Newspaper and Press Association's 2019 Reporter of the Year.