IN MASSACHUSETTS, A PERIOD OF POLITICAL QUIET

 

senior-groundbreaking

^ Mayor Walsh officiates at yet another groundbreaking, this time in Mission Hill with Maria Sanchez at his side and her son, Jeffrey, the area’s State Representative, behind them.

—- —-

Nationally, the turmoil has already begun to increase. Locally, however, the opposite seems true. This year Mayor Walsh of Boston faces a re-election with no obvious major candidate opposed — more on this below — while statewide, next year both Governor Baker and Senator Elizabeth Warren will seek a second term with no clear or significant challenger either. (I will discuss both of them below as well.) For us, a quiet period is new. Since former Governor Romney ran for President in 2008, and then longtime Senator Ted Kennedy died the next year, we have had election after election, many of them piqued by huge issues, in which more than 25 candidates sought the offices of President, Governor, and Senator. Then, in 2013, Boston Mayor Tom Menino didn’t seek re-election, arousing no less than 12 candidates onto that year’s ballot.  I’m guessing that upward of $ 200 million was spent.

Issues were raised debated, ambushed, initiated, protested fiercely, think-tanked, turned back, raised again. Twitter was the arena of battle, long before it became Donald Trump’s lane for destroying our democratic norms. Twitter trolling denied Boston the 2024 Olympics and played a big role in crushing the city’s charter schools constituency. Twitter skull-dugged Public forums, Mayor’s conversations, legislative hearings, state House pro9tests, Black Lives Matter, and nightly stories of MBTA failures, all of which broke up friendships and kept us embroiled with failures of government and the long struggle to fix. Unions, too, have been active seeking the higher $ 15/hour minimum wage, organizing service workers, shepherding a two-tier tax onto the 2018 ballot. Their activity aroused less controversy but achieved more — perhaps for that reason.

Maybe the biggest recent political flap involves Attorney General Healey, whose recent, newly issued regulation that adds an assault rifle adjustment to the list of guns already banned and regulated by existing law was met — unsuccessfully so far — by howls of protest from gun owners organizations claiming that Healey’s new regulation was “making law” — when clearly she was not. These gun groups have not given up, and with Healey also taking on Exxon Mobil (whose CEO is to be become Mr. Trump’s Secretary of State, perhaps), she seems certain to face a very busy re-election run.

That’s for tomorrow. Today, in the three major races, quiet rules. First, Governor Baker :

Perhaps Baker learned, by the 63 to 37 defeat of charter cap expansion, that his support for a major ballot initiative doesn’t make much difference. He advocated for the initiative which, had it been voted Yes, would have permitted a major opening of the allowed number of  charter schools in Massachusetts. Instead, the measure was beaten soundly. Baker gave it lip service (intensely) but not much visible muscle. That’s how it is for our Republican Governors. If there were any doubt, every major cut Baker made to the Fy 2017 budget that passed both legislative bodies were easily snuffed by veto override. The same will happen to the approximately $ 94 million he has recently cut from the state’s arts and similar budgets.Now he’s back to his Mr Fix It core, probably to persist until 2019; and by far the most of our state’s voters seem to like him doing Fix Its.

Now, Senator Warren.

She has tried to raise her voice, and in the usual key of accusation of bankers and financiers. It’s an odd target for a Senator from the state in which finance looms large (is our second largest industry); yet has Mr Trump not said much the same ? One senses that for Senator Warren, as for Trump, the finance industry is an easy target; its executives expect to be vilified. Bit will Warren’s noise birth much controversy ? or attract a serious competitor ? One senses the controversy dying out (as it has) and her wardrobe of models wearing ever thinner. It’s enough for Warren that she opposed Mr. Trump openly and savagely all through the  campaign; that “Feisty Liz” image remains vividly in place among Massachusetts voters; I doubt it will become feistier because her rant continues well past its sell-by date (her attack upon a financier who turned out to be a major supporter would have seriously embarrassed, except that attacking everybody has served Mr. Trump well, why not serve Liz ?)

None of this has enticed a serious challenger, which is not surprising given Mr. Trump’s 27 point defeat here — he garnered barely 33 percent of the vote. The national GOP agenda is anathema to most of our voters, Mr. Trump even more so. Senator Warren can go as rogue as she likes; her re election is assured. Thus the quiet in her zone.

Lastly, Mayor Walsh. I have written about his prospects recently; they looked really good then, more so now. There’s no major issue against him. He is what he is : a labor guy.in a city where Labor rules, especially in the local Democratic party, whose levers Labor was able to direct to the “No On 2” campaign with full force and effect. Walsh has tons of money on hand, an army of door knockers, a tech savvy administrative crew, major citizen involvement initiatives, power over all permitting in a city ablaze with developments requiring all kinds of permits. For all their style dissimilarities, Walsh, like Baker, has assumed a Mr. Fix-It role with respect to City housing, traffic, public safety, and social cohesion issues; and the voters appear to9 like him doing it.

Walsh certainly wasn’t hurt by yesterday’s Circuit Court ruling overturning last year’s convictions in the Probation Department mess. If these folks, openly corrupting a state system taxpayer funded, haven’t committed a Federal crime — as it appears they haven’t — there’s zero chance that Walsh’s Labor moves prior to his election as Mayor will give rise to anything but scuttlebutt.

Quiet also dominates the City Council elections., All four at-large incumbents seem running for re-election, and only one of the nine District Council seats may be open, assuming that District Two’s Bill Linehan actually does retire, as has been talked of. Expect, therefore, a small voter turnout and, so far, an easy time for Walsh headed to his second term running a very prosperous City.

All of which explains the quiet. The voters approve what is going on. More or less. This is not a dramatic news story, but I will soon find some for ya.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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