MIXED SIGNALS — New England’s final primaries were as much a test of former President Donald Trump’s hold over the GOP as they were a barometer for whether a dying breed of more moderate, less partisan Republicans could keep their way of politicking alive.
The results were mixed.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu is through to a general election fight against Democrat Tom Sherman that forecasters say the incumbent is likely to win. Moderates also have hope in Rhode Island, where centrist former Cranston Mayor Allan Fung will take on Democratic state Treasurer Seth Magaziner in the 2nd Congressional District.
But Massachusetts Republicans handed Trump-endorsed conservative former state Rep. Geoff Diehl the party’s gubernatorial nomination last week over a more moderate businessman backed by Sununu. Moderate Gov. Charlie Baker, who declined to seek a third term, is refusing to weigh in on the race in which the Democrat, Attorney General Maura Healey, is the overwhelming favorite. And while Diehl has parted ways with adviser Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump campaign manager, since the primary, he continues to face questions from the press and attacks from Healey over the former president.
Trump didn’t endorse in New Hampshire. But the GOP race to take on Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas ended in a face-off between two Trump administration alums who divided party leaders. Karoline Leavitt won, beating out Matt Mowers and Gail Huff Brown, a former WCVB reporter and wife of former Massachusetts senator and Trump-nominated U.S. ambassador Scott Brown. Leavitt, who could become one of the youngest people ever elected to Congress, champions the former president’s false claims that the 2020 election was “rigged.” The former assistant in the Trump White House press office has also embraced his brash style.
And in the Granite State’s closely-watched Republican Senate primary, retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc, who’s also echoed Trump’s election conspiracies, holds a slim lead over Sununu-backed state Senate President Chuck Morse. Morse appeared to concede the race in a post-2 a.m. tweet, though The Associated Press had not called the contest as of 7 a.m. Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan is already blasting Bolduc’s “radical, backward-looking agenda.”
GOOD WEDNESDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. We’re not the only ones with petty primaries.
The Democratic contest for Rhode Island governor ended with Gov. Dan McKee telling an adviser to hang up on rival Helena Buonanno Foulkes on live television. Foulkes, who was trying to concede, said she was “unhappy” with that development and declined to tell WPRI whether she’ll support McKee in the general election.
McKee stood by his decision to publicly decline Foulkes’ call, telling WPRI: “Would you take a call as you’re celebrating a victory like this? They knew I was on stage.” We’ll see if they can bury the hatchet by this Sunday’s “Unity Dinner” Democratic Party fundraiser in Warwick.
TODAY — Baker attends the Pavilion Field at the Riverwalk opening in Lawrence at 10 a.m. and the opening of BMC’s Brockton Behavioral Health Facility at 4:30 p.m. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito chairs a Governor’s Council meeting at noon. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu participates in the Boston Globe Summit kickoff at 9:30 a.m. at WBUR’s CitySpace and speaks at the WorldBoston 13th Annual Consuls Reception at 6:15 p.m. in Roxbury.
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— “Advocates raise concerns about sports betting,” by Christian M. Wade, Eagle-Tribune: “On Tuesday, the state Gaming Commission heard from academics and advocates for ’responsible gambling’ groups who cautioned that the state’s foray into betting on professional sports comes with the risk of increasing problem gambling.”
— “Wu voted for Arroyo in DA primary,” by Gia Orsino, GBH News: “In an appearance on Boston Public Radio on Tuesday, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu revealed that she voted for Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo in the Suffolk County District Attorney primary, despite withdrawing her endorsement after the Boston Globe published an interview with a woman who alleged sexual assault. Politics and policy, Wu said, were the most important consideration in the messy election with conflicting evidence of assault presented in redacted police files. According to released police reports, Arroyo was never charged with a crime.”
— “Boston challenging 2020 Census count,” by Sean Philip Cotter, Boston Herald: “Boston might end up in the 700,000 club yet. Mayor Michelle Wu formalized what the city’s been making noise about for the past year or so: challenging the 2020 Census count for Boston and claiming that the 675,647 official count misses significant numbers of college kids, prisoners and immigrants.”
— “Most Mass. primary voters voted early,” by Samantha J. Gross, Boston Globe: “Of the more than 1 million voters who cast ballots in the Massachusetts state primary last week, fewer than half actually voted on election day. According to Secretary of State William F. Galvin, 50.2 percent of ballots were cast before Sept. 6, with 45.6 percent cast by mail and 4.6 percent cast in person during the early voting period. The only other time most voters cast ballots before a primary election day was the 2020 state primary, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic when 60 percent of ballots were cast outside of polling places. In terms of total ballots cast, the 2022 primary election also saw the second-highest turnout for a state primary since 1990, surpassed only by the 2020 state primary. The percent of registered voters who cast primary ballots this year was 21.8 percent, matching the 2018 state primary election, elections officials said.”
There were stark differences in how voters cast their ballots between the Democratic and Republican primaries:
— Of 777,819 ballots cast in the Democratic primary: 52 percent were by mail, 4.7 percent were through early in-person voting and 43.2 percent were cast on primary day.
— Of 276,158 ballots cast in the GOP primary: 27.4 percent were by mail, 4.2 percent were through early in-person voting and 68.3 percent were cast on primary day.
— “Springfield sees lowest voter turnout in Massachusetts 2022 primary, new state election data show,” by Alison Kuznitz, MassLive: “Only 10.4% of registered voters cast their ballots in Springfield, though the overall statewide turnout notched nearly 22%, according to official election data released Tuesday by Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s office and shared with MassLive. … Sturbridge, meanwhile, logged the highest voter turnout of 43.3%, according to Galvin’s office. … Boston saw a voter turnout of 19.2%.”
— DEBATING DEBATES, GENERAL ELECTION EDITION: Geoff Diehl wants to debate Maura Healey three times in the governor’s race. Anthony Amore wants to debate auditor rival state Sen. Diana DiZoglio five times, in a mix of TV, radio and digital debates across the state. And Jay McMahon wants to debate attorney general rival Andrea Campbell a whopping seven times.
Democrats hold the upper hand here, so how are they reacting? Healey agreed to one debate in October and will consider others. DiZoglio “looks forward to participating in multiple debates as she did for the Democratic primary,” a campaign spokesperson said. Campbell told GBH earlier this week: “We’ll see.”
— POST-NEAL PREP: A group of primarily Democratic activists in Rep. Richard Neal’s district has launched a website critiquing his record on health care, national defense, trade and more. It’s not an attempt to aid Neal’s Republican opponent, Dean Martilli, in November. Instead, it’s an effort to “highlight issues of concern for when the race to succeed [Neal] happens,” Matt Barron, a former Chesterfield Democratic Town Committee chair involved with the website and its associated MA-1 PAC, told Playbook. Some western Massachusetts political observers and operatives speculate that Neal’s eventual departure from the House could come sooner rather than later should Democrats lose the chamber this fall and the powerful House Ways and Means chair loses his perch.
— “Federal judge won’t intervene in Tran prosecution,” by Shira Schoenberg, CommonWealth Magazine: “A federal judge has declined to intervene to stop Attorney General Maura Healey’s prosecution of congressional candidate Dean Tran. Tran, a Republican former state senator who is challenging Democratic US Rep. Lori Trahan in the 3rd District, was indicted on six counts related to his alleged attempt to steal guns that had belonged to an elderly constituent’s late husband. Tran pleaded not guilty and challenged the prosecution in federal court. He argued that the prosecution by Healey, a Democrat running for governor, was politically motivated and asked a judge to pause court proceedings in Worcester Superior Court until after the November election and prohibit Healey from participating. … On Tuesday, US District Court Judge Leo Sorokin dismissed Tran’s complaint and let the state criminal case proceed.”
— “DPU trying to double size of its MBTA oversight staff,” by Bruce Mohl, CommonWealth Magazine: “The state Department of Public Utilities, which is coming under fire for its poor oversight of the MBTA’s safety practices, appears to be trying to double in size. In a statement, the agency said it currently has eight positions, three of which are vacant. It also appears to be recruiting seven additional staffers, including new postings for a director and assistant director of rail oversight. … The staffing issue is likely to be a major topic at a legislative oversight hearing scheduled for Wednesday that is expected to focus on the safety practices of the MBTA and the safety oversight of the T provided by the DPU.”
— More: “Feds decline invite to testify at MBTA oversight hearing,” by Gayla Cawley, Boston Herald: “Joint Committee on Transportation Chairs state Rep. William Straus and state Sen. Brendan Crighton said the Federal Transit Administration informed the committee Monday that it would not participate in the Wednesday hearing, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. In a statement, Straus and Crighton said they are ‘disappointed,’ but expect the feds will reconsider the committee’s request for ‘help in assessing the context and recommendations of the FTA safety report in time for the future oversight hearings.’”
— “Orange Line shutdown: MBTA reports 82% of work completed with days to go before scheduled reopening,” by Chris Van Buskirk, MassLive: “MBTA officials on Tuesday said 82% of work on the Orange Line is complete days before it is slated to reopen to the public after a monthlong shutdown for major repair work.”
— “Partial Green Line closure planned days after Orange Line reopens,” by Gayla Cawley, Boston Herald: “The D Branch of the Green Line, from Riverside to Kenmore, will be closed for a total of 27 days, between Sept. 24 and Oct. 30, to allow for track upgrades and the implementation of train-collision prevention equipment.”
— “SJC Could Cut in to Rule on Dismissal of Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Prosecution,” by Matt Szafranski, Western Mass. Politics & Insight: “The legal drama around the criminal indictments arising from the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home COVID-19 outbreak has flown under the radar since the appeal began. Last December Attorney General Maura Healey filed notice that her office intended to appeal the dismissal of charges against the facility’s former leaders. That appeal arrived at the Appeals Court in April. The arguments on appeal have been under seal, ostensibly because they contain info from grand jury proceedings. The case, however, jolted a bit in public view again as Healey’s office sought direct review from the Supreme Judicial Court.”
— “Holyoke police call on councilor to apologize for ‘gang’ comments,” by Brian Steele, Daily Hampshire Gazette: “The city’s police officers and supervisors unions on Tuesday called for At-Large City Councilor Jose Maldonado Velez to publicly apologize for referring to the department as a ‘gang’ or recuse himself from any vote involving the city’s police.”
— “Lavar Click-Bruce selected as the next Ward 5 City Councilor,” by Jonah Snowden and Patrick Johnson, Springfield Republican: “Lavar Click-Bruce defeated Edward Collins by 44 votes in yesterday’s special election to claim the vacant Ward 5 seat on the Springfield City Council.”
— “Pam Laliberte-Lebeau steps down as Council president amid criminal charges and scandal,” by Jo C. Goode, Herald News: “Just a few hours before she was to convene a City Council meeting on Tuesday, fourth term Councilor Pam Laliberte-Lebeau resigned from her position as City Council president as she faces pending criminal charges of harassment and obstruction of justice in a case unrelated to city matters.”
— “Analysis: McKee comes out on top as Foulkes surge develops too late,” by Ted Nesi, WPRI: “As the results of this year’s gubernatorial primary rolled in Tuesday night, it briefly looked as if [Gov. Dan] McKee’s luck might have run out. Former CVS executive Helena Foulkes took a small lead in the initial results, confirming she had received a burst of late momentum following her well-received performance in last week’s televised WPRI 12 debate. But McKee clawed back ground as the night wore on, and he moved firmly into first place when mail ballots were added to the totals.”
— “For this New Hampshire family, ‘Live Free or Die’ is more than a motto,” by Brian MacQuarrie, Boston Globe: “Tyler and Sara Brown are proud members of the Free State movement, transplants from New York’s Hudson Valley who moved here with three young children, joining thousands of other people from around the country who want to create a libertarian utopia in the Granite State. The Browns, who relocated in November, are part of the most recent influx of Free Staters to arrive in New Hampshire, and their embrace of the movement offers a glimpse into its appeal for people who believe that liberty and modern government are incompatible.”
— “Brandeis names former Boston Globe, Washington Post editor Martin Baron as 2023 Richman Fellow,” by Katie Mogg, Boston Globe.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — to Roger Lau, Ted Gup, Julia Murray and Alex Pratt.
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