CBC endorses Capuano in Massachusetts Democratic primary

The Congressional Black Caucus backed Rep. Michael Capuano Friday over challenger Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, delivering a critical endorsement to the veteran Massachusetts congressman in a Democratic primary in which race — Capuano is white, Pressley is African-American — has served as the backdrop.

The contest is Capuano’s first serious primary challenge since he was elected in 1998. There are few substantive policy differences between the two progressive candidates, but Pressley argues that her background and life experiences as a woman, a person of color, and child of an incarcerated father provide her with a different lens through which she would represent the majority-minority district.

The CBC endorsement is one of a handful from prominent African-American individuals or groups that Capuano has rolled out recently as he seeks re-election in his Boston and Cambridge-area seat.

Capuano, who recently received an endorsement from former Gov. Deval Patrick, will co-host a Continue reading “CBC endorses Capuano in Massachusetts Democratic primary”

GOP governor absent from Pence visit to Massachusetts

BOSTON — Vice President Mike Pence is traveling to Boston tomorrow for two fundraisers — including one for the Republican National Committee, which is expected to haul in $500,000. But Massachusetts’ Republican governor won’t be at either of them.

Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters today that he will be in New Bedford during Pence’s visit and won’t attend the RNC event, adding “I didn’t know about it.” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito also said she “wasn’t asked to attend” and has other commitments.

Pence’s office said it extended an invitation to the governor’s office.

Baker, who is up for reelection this year, has sought to walk a fine line between the Trump administration and a Massachusetts electorate that’s deeply unhappy with the president. Baker, in most recent polling, held a 66 percent favorability rating among voters while Trump was the mirror opposite — 66 percent had an unfavorable view of Continue reading “GOP governor absent from Pence visit to Massachusetts”

Is Massachusetts the next transgender rights battleground?

BOSTON — Deep-blue Massachusetts may seem an unlikely battleground in the fight over transgender rights. But supporters and opponents alike say a November ballot question on whether to strike down the state’s recently enacted law protecting transgender individuals in public spaces could be the next crucible in the national debate.

“Both sides recognize this vote has national implications. If this movement can be stopped in Massachusetts, it can be stopped anywhere in the country,” said Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, which opposes the commonwealth’s 2016 transgender protection law.

Despite its liberal reputation, Massachusetts has plenty of socially conservative pockets (and routinely elects moderate GOP governors, like current Gov. Charlie Baker). But proponents of the Massachusetts law are worried that support for it is weak enough that a concerted effort by opponents of transgender rights could create a public firestorm like the one that gripped North Carolina in Continue reading “Is Massachusetts the next transgender rights battleground?”

Progressives storm Democratic primaries

Progressive insurgents are launching challenges to Democratic members of Congress in some of the country’s bluest districts, sparked by deep frustration with the party establishment and anti-Trump anger.

Most of the challengers are long shots at the moment. But some are putting a scare into entrenched incumbents, thanks to their muscular fundraising and a message of liberal disaffection on issues including Wall Street, criminal justice reform and single-payer health care.

Six veteran incumbents already face energetic primary challenges from younger candidates in New York and Massachusetts. In Illinois, two Chicago-based members are being targeted from the left.

“I think Donald Trump getting elected president is part of it — the old institutional political knowledge we had about the way things works clearly just doesn’t work. And now people are knocking down the door,” said Bill Hyers, a political consultant and campaign strategist for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Continue reading “Progressives storm Democratic primaries”

Progressives storm Democratic primaries

Progressive insurgents are launching challenges to Democratic members of Congress in some of the country’s bluest districts, sparked by deep frustration with the party establishment and anti-Trump anger.

Most of the challengers are long shots at the moment. But some are putting a scare into entrenched incumbents, thanks to their muscular fundraising and a message of liberal disaffection on issues including Wall Street, criminal justice reform and single-payer health care.

Six veteran incumbents already face energetic primary challenges from younger candidates in New York and Massachusetts. In Illinois, two Chicago-based members are being targeted from the left.

“I think Donald Trump getting elected president is part of it — the old institutional political knowledge we had about the way things works clearly just doesn’t work. And now people are knocking down the door,” said Bill Hyers, a political consultant and campaign strategist for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Continue reading “Progressives storm Democratic primaries”

In fight against Trump, Democratic AGs take a page from GOP

BOSTON — One year into the Trump presidency, the nation’s 22 Democratic state attorneys general — including ambitious up-and-comers like New York’s Eric Schneiderman, California’s Xavier Becerra and Massachusetts’ Maura Healey — have emerged as the shock troops of the Democratic resistance.

Democratic state attorneys general are bringing a growing string of lawsuits, complaints and other actions against the Trump administration on immigration, education policy, net neutrality, marijuana enforcement, offshore oil and gas drilling and more – and there’s no end in sight.

It’s a new look for Democratic state prosecutors, but it’s hardly a novel idea: The Democrats’ strategy is borne in part of a calculated decision to coordinate closely and emulate the way their Republican counterparts relentlessly battled the Obama administration over climate regulations, Obamacare and more.

“Democratic state attorneys general — like Eric Schneiderman and Maura Healey — are tripping over themselves to be first in line Continue reading “In fight against Trump, Democratic AGs take a page from GOP”

Viral videos fuel Kennedy rise

He’s got more Facebook followers than most senators. And he’s left a trail of viral videos that have been watched by millions.

Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III might not cut a high-profile yet in Washington, but his stature is growing among Democratic grassroots activists outside D.C.

The three-term congressman — who’s slated to deliver his party’s response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech Tuesday — features in scores of YouTube and Facebook videos, where clips of his remarks and floor speeches have spread like wildfire among progressives.

One of the most popular is from a March committee hearing where Kennedy, citing Scripture, called the GOP health care bill an act of malice, saying “There is no mercy in a system that makes health care a luxury.” That video, posted on his official Facebook page, drew more than 10 million views and nearly a quarter-million Continue reading “Viral videos fuel Kennedy rise”

Small donors power Warren fundraising

Elizabeth Warren, the Senate’s most prolific fundraiser, closed out 2017 with another strong fundraising haul — $2.88 million over the final three months of the year.

Once again, the Massachusetts Democrat padded her campaign war chest — now at $14.1 million — with small-dollar donations. Ninety-eight percent of Warren’s donations from October through the end of December were made up of $100 or less, while 80 percent of the donations were $25 or less, according to new numbers provided to POLITICO by Warren’s campaign.

The first-term senator, who faces reelection in November, raked in donations from 9,199 individuals in Massachusetts during the quarter.

Despite Warren’s potent fundraising, the last three months of 2017 actually represented her weakest fundraising performance of 2017. In the first quarter, Warren raised $5.2 million (which doubled her campaign account at the time) followed by $3.45 million in Q2, and $2.98 Continue reading “Small donors power Warren fundraising”

How Charlie Baker ditched Trump to become the most popular governor in America

BOSTON — Donald Trump got crushed by Hillary Clinton in Massachusetts. And after his first year in office, polls show the president is now even less popular here.

Trump’s rock-bottom ratings should be dragging Republican Gov. Charlie Baker to defeat in 2018. Instead, the opposite is occurring. Baker is not only more popular than any other politician in solidly Democratic Massachusetts, he’s the most popular governor in the nation.

His defiance of the laws of political gravity is proving maddening to opponents who once viewed him as a certain one-termer. And it offers a ray of hope to the handful of other Republican governors facing blue-state electorates in November with the prospect of an unpopular president in the background.

“Charlie Baker is the Flying Wallendas of Massachusetts politics,” said Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh, referencing the famed stunt performers who execute daring high-wire acts without a safety net. “None of Continue reading “How Charlie Baker ditched Trump to become the most popular governor in America”

Warren delivers strong fundraising haul

BOSTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, one of the Democratic Party’s most prolific fundraisers, delivered another strong fundraising haul for the second quarter of 2017.

According to new numbers provided by her campaign to POLITICO, Warren raised $3.45 million between April and June, bringing her total cash on hand to $11.03 million. It’s the highest second-quarter fundraising haul announced so far, and follows a record-breaking first quarter which saw Warren bring in more money than any other Democratic Senate candidate.

Warren’s campaign notes a significant number of donations, 9,377 to be exact, came from Massachusetts residents — a statistic Warren touted on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, and similarly promoted after her first quarter numbers were released. The strong in-state representation could help parry Republican criticism that Warren is more interested in out-of-state activities than her constituents.

During the latest fundraising window, the senior senator also crisscrossed the country promoting her Continue reading “Warren delivers strong fundraising haul”

Conservative PAC takes aim at Warren during book tour

BOSTON — America Rising PAC, a conservative group that hounded Hillary Clinton following the release of her book, "Hard Choices," in 2014, is about to do the same to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Warren’s latest book, "This Fight is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class," will be released on Tuesday. She’ll set out on a book tour with stops in New York and Massachusetts this week.

“We view book launch as the soft launch of her presidential campaign. We’ll do the same to her as we did with Hillary Clinton in 2014,” said America Rising executive director Colin Reed.

In 2014, the group maintained a "war room" that monitored Clinton’s media appearances in conjunction with her book.

The group plans a similar strategy with Warren. It will build and maintain opposition research, use video tracking, FOIA and public records, and deploy rapid response communications to “make Warren’s life difficult” Continue reading “Conservative PAC takes aim at Warren during book tour”

Baker side-steps Trump claims about state’s role in NH ‘voter fraud’

BOSTON — Asked Monday about President Donald Trump’s assertion that Massachusetts residents were bused into New Hampshire last November to cast illegal ballots, Gov. Charlie Baker chose to side-step the issue, saying he wasn’t "in a position to speak to that one."

“I don’t know much about what goes on in New Hampshire," Baker told reporters following a weekly leadership meeting at the State House. “Obviously people have concerns up there and I’m sure there’s a process of redress people can pursue to determine if in fact there were any issues.”

Trump told senators last week that he and Republican Senate candidate Kelly Ayotte would have won in New Hampshire if it weren’t for the “thousands” of Massachusetts residents “brought in on buses” to vote “illegally.”

Baker did say that he opposes same-day voter registration, which is legal in New Hampshire but illegal in Massachusetts, noting the Continue reading “Baker side-steps Trump claims about state’s role in NH ‘voter fraud’”

Baker side-steps Trump claims about state’s role in NH ‘voter fraud’

BOSTON — Asked Monday about President Donald Trump’s assertion that Massachusetts residents were bused into New Hampshire last November to cast illegal ballots, Gov. Charlie Baker chose to side-step the issue, saying he wasn’t "in a position to speak to that one."

“I don’t know much about what goes on in New Hampshire," Baker told reporters following a weekly leadership meeting at the State House. “Obviously people have concerns up there and I’m sure there’s a process of redress people can pursue to determine if in fact there were any issues.”

Trump told senators last week that he and Republican Senate candidate Kelly Ayotte would have won in New Hampshire if it weren’t for the “thousands” of Massachusetts residents “brought in on buses” to vote “illegally.”

Baker did say that he opposes same-day voter registration, which is legal in New Hampshire but illegal in Massachusetts, noting the Continue reading “Baker side-steps Trump claims about state’s role in NH ‘voter fraud’”

Lawrence, Chelsea file suit to block Trump sanctuary cities order

BOSTON – Two Massachusetts sanctuary cities are challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order against funding for sanctuary cities in federal court, seeking to block enforcement and to define the order as unconstitutional.

The suit was filed on behalf of Chelsea and Lawrence in Massachusetts District Court on Wednesday by the Boston-based Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice and Goodwin law firm.

“Rather than sit back and wait for the feds to act punitively, we felt we should take the offensive against this order,” said Chelsea city manager Tom Ambrosino.

Though Chelsea and Lawrence are both sanctuary cities, Ambrosino said the lawsuit also seeks to clarify that despite the executive order’s phrasing, they are still in line with the law because they do not prohibit law enforcement from cooperating with immigration officials.

As of 2010, 74 percent of Lawrence’s 76,377 residents were Hispanic or Latino according to US census Continue reading “Lawrence, Chelsea file suit to block Trump sanctuary cities order”

Baker calls on Trump administration to rethink immigration order in letter to DHS chief

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday called on the Trump administration to resume assisting refugees and to refine its immigration policy, writing in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security that, "We do not need to abandon our humanitarian commitment to refugees in order to address the security threats raised by illegal immigration."

In the six-page letter to DHS Sec. John Kelly dated Feb. 3, Baker offers “considerations that the Administration should weigh in pursuing any changes, in order to minimize unintended consequences for our economy and the negative effects that more restrictive policies could have on people who have followed the rules, who share our values, and who wish to contribute to our nation’s success.”

The letter comes a week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order restricting refugees and immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries into the United States. The order was met with Continue reading “Baker calls on Trump administration to rethink immigration order in letter to DHS chief”

Baker says state will file brief against Trump immigration order

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday that State Attorney General Maura Healey plans to file a brief in U.S. federal court in Boston Tuesday arguing against President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.

And while the governor didn’t make any public appearances at protests against the order throughout the state over the weekend — something protesters latched onto — he said he’s been working behind the scenes to push Massachusetts’ interests in Washington.

“My view is my job is to represent the commonwealth, and the best way I can represent the commonwealth is directly to Washington,” Baker said during his monthly Ask the Governor radio segment.

Baker said he hopes courts "are the first arbiter" on Trump’s order and swirling questions around its implementation. He said he and Healey spent much of the weekend going over the order’s ramifications on people in the state’s Continue reading “Baker says state will file brief against Trump immigration order”

Baker strikes contrast with Trump in State of Commonwealth speech

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker emphasized bipartisanship and compromise during his third State of the Commonwealth speech on Tuesday night, adopting a conciliatory spirit that seemed designed to invite a contrast with his fellow Republican, President Donald Trump.

“It’s one thing to stand in a corner and shout insults at your opponents. It’s quite another to climb into the arena and fight for common ground,” Baker said, according to a copy of the speech prepared for delivery. “I believe it’s this conversation that makes us strong.”

Baker also thanked the Democratic-controlled Legislature for its good will. “This may seem like a small thing. But it’s not," he said.

Baker’s comments were striking, especially because they came from an often reluctant counterpoint to Trump and his abrasive style. Baker was the first Republican governor to say he would not support Trump following the New Yorker’s primary win in New Hampshire Continue reading “Baker strikes contrast with Trump in State of Commonwealth speech”

Polls shows Warren is no sure bet for re-election next year

Sen. Elizabeth Warren may not have an easy path to re-election victory in 2018.

A new poll released on Monday morning shows that 46 percent of Massachusetts voters think it’s time for someone else to have a shot at the Senate.

“It’s not a great place to start for her but she still would be the favorite at this point,” said MassINC Polling Group president Steve Koczela, who conducted the poll with WBUR.

Fifty one percent of the poll’s respondents approved of Warren while 37 disapproved — a dip from an April 2015 poll showing a 62 percent approval rating and a 21 percent disapproval rating.

While it’s still early to handicap the 2018 race, a relatively underwhelming field of potential Democratic primary challengers and Republican opponents means that while there is an opening, it is narrow.

“Low numbers don’t necessarily mean there’s an opening for just anyone to challenge Continue reading “Polls shows Warren is no sure bet for re-election next year”

Warren joins thousands in defense of Obamacare in Boston

BOSTON — An overflow crowd of more than 6,000 people filled the area outside of Faneuil Hall on Sunday to protest Republican efforts to roll back the Affordable Care Act.

Subfreezing temperatures and a stubborn wind did not deter the attendees, well-bundled and making muffled claps as they cheered on U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and a laundry list of local, state and federal officials, health care providers and others as they vowed to fight for universal health care.

“We knew these fights were coming, and now the first one is here,” Warren told the crowd, “We will fight them every step of the way.”

The rally — initially intended to be held inside Faneuil Hall, where Massachusetts’ landmark health care law was signed in 2006 — had to be moved outside to accommodate the thousands more attendees than were expected.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, U.S. Sen. Ed Continue reading “Warren joins thousands in defense of Obamacare in Boston”

Warren joins thousands in defense of Obamacare in Boston

BOSTON — An overflow crowd of more than 6,000 people filled the area outside of Faneuil Hall on Sunday to protest Republican efforts to roll back the Affordable Care Act.

Subfreezing temperatures and a stubborn wind did not deter the attendees, well-bundled and making muffled claps as they cheered on U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and a laundry list of local, state and federal officials, health care providers and others as they vowed to fight for universal health care.

“We knew these fights were coming, and now the first one is here,” Warren told the crowd, “We will fight them every step of the way.”

The rally — initially intended to be held inside Faneuil Hall, where Massachusetts’ landmark health care law was signed in 2006 — had to be moved outside to accommodate the thousands more attendees than were expected.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, U.S. Sen. Ed Continue reading “Warren joins thousands in defense of Obamacare in Boston”