Poll: Capuano still leads closely watched Massachusetts primary

BOSTON — A new poll shows Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) maintaining his lead over primary challenger Ayanna Pressley, though the 10-term Democrat is still below 50 percent in next month’s closely watched contest.

Among likely Democratic primary voters, 48 percent prefer Capuano, while 35 percent prefer Pressley, according to a new poll from WBUR-FM and MassINC Polling Group. That is virtually unchanged from the previous poll in February, when Capuano led Pressley, 47 percent to 35 percent.

The Pressley-Capuano matchup has drawn attention in the wake of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset victory in June over longtime incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), thanks in part to Ocasio-Cortez’s primary-night tweet endorsing Pressley. The primary is on September 4, the day after Labor Day.

Pressley, a 42 year-old African-American woman, appeals to younger voters of color while Capuano, a 66 year-old white man, polls stronger among older white voters. According to Continue reading “Poll: Capuano still leads closely watched Massachusetts primary”

Deval Patrick steps into Texas House race

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will return to the campaign trail this weekend, stumping in Texas in one of the most competitive House races in the country.

The former two-term Democrat — and 2020 presidential prospect — will campaign Sunday with Democrat Colin Allred, a former NFL football player challenging GOP Rep. Pete Sessions in Texas’ 32nd Congressional District.

Patrick will help launch a block walk in Richardson, a Dallas-Fort Worth suburb, followed by a sit-down with campaign volunteers and fellows at campaign HQ, according to Hector Nieto, a consultant for the Allred campaign.

The district is regarded as one of the party’s top opportunities to pick off a seat currently held by a Republican — Hillary Clinton carried district in 2016.

Patrick has said he planned to stump this summer for candidates in elections where he can be helpful. But the Allred visit is one of the first signs Continue reading “Deval Patrick steps into Texas House race”

New York stunner rattles Capuano primary

BOSTON — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s shock victory over New York Rep. Joe Crowley delivered an adrenaline shot to Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley’s campaign to upset Rep. Michael Capuano this fall.

The parallels aren’t hard to miss: Like Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley is a woman of color challenging a 10-term white male who represents a majority-minority district. And the two women have made common cause in recent weeks. Ocasio-Cortez called on Massachusetts voters Wednesday to “vote her in next,” referring to Pressley.

The Pressley campaign says it’s seen a burst of interest over the last 24 hours thanks to the Ocasio-Cortez victory. Website traffic at AyannaPressley.com has spiked 56 percent – most of which came from people Googling Pressley, and the candidate has gained 4,000 new followers on Twitter and at least 100 new small-dollar donations. That’s on top of new volunteers streaming into the recently opened campaign headquarters in Jamaica Plain. Continue reading “New York stunner rattles Capuano primary”

Baker rescinds National Guard offer over family separations

Citing federal government actions that are “resulting in the inhumane treatment of children,” Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has revoked his offer to send National Guard helicopters and personnel to the Southwestern border.

Baker, a Republican, had previously pledged a UH-72 Lakota helicopter and two military analysts to the border on June 1 and were expected to be deployed at the end of the month.

The Massachusetts National Guard has sent personnel and resources to the border in the past under previous administrations, including for Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

The announcement came as the all-Democratic Massachusetts congressional delegation amped up pressure on the Trump administration over its zero-tolerance immigration enforcement policy and migrant family separations. On Sunday, Rep. Joe Kennedy III was among Democratic lawmakers who traveled to a border town in Texas to inspect a facility holding children firsthand, but was turned away.

Baker has a complicated Continue reading “Baker rescinds National Guard offer over family separations”

Patrick plans 2020 decision by end of the year

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is inching closer toward deciding on a 2020 presidential run.

The former two-term Democrat plans to hit the campaign trail in a handful of races around the country this fall, which would “help him sort it out by the end of the year,” said John Walsh, a close adviser who managed Patrick’s 2006 insurgent gubernatorial campaign and later headed up his leadership PAC.

“He’s really thinking about running but hasn’t decided yet,” Walsh, who frequently speaks with the former governor, told POLITICO.

Patrick’s public visibility has increased since saying on a Kansas City radio station on Feb. 28 that a presidential run is “on my radar screen.” But he’s not yet actively working the midterm election circuit because of restrictions related to his position at investment firm Bain Capital.

Patrick’s spokesman Doug Rubin would not confirm Patrick’s plans.

Patrick has only run for one Continue reading “Patrick plans 2020 decision by end of the year”

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”