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The other Warren moves to the head of the pack

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It’s official: Scott Brown can start worrying.

Elizabeth Warren is in. Prior to Warren’s announcement, smart money was on Brown to skate to re-election. After all, Brown is the most popular politician in Massachusetts. None of the seven Democrats vying to retake the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat, a field that includes City Year co-founder Alan Khazei and Methuen Democratic City Committee straw poll winner Setti Warren, had shown any hint of the mojo required to propel them past the Republican favorite in the 2012 contest.

What a difference a day makes.  The Washington Post underlined the obvious: “Her candidacy will set up one of the nation’s most high-profile Senate races.” Though Mayor Tom Menino has wondered if she is “saleable,” her debut, getting out to press the flesh at the MBTA Red Line Broadway stop in South Boston before heading to Framingham, New Bedford, and Springfield suggests she is no Martha Coakley.

Warren tells WBUR: “For me, it’s all about middle-class families.”

Republicans promise to hammer away at the Harvard Law professor’s liberal views, her ties to a sinking-in-the-polls President Obama, and a million-plus dollar home in the People’s Republic of Cambridge. Meanwhile, Joe Battenfeld advises Elizabeth Warren to keep her distance from the party apparatus.

Warren can point to her Oklahoma roots, her championing of middle class issues, and her willingness to take on a candidate she’ll argue is out of step with a very blue state.  In short, she is the perfect populist choice. “Warren’s run could test the electoral limits of true populism in a way other Dems haven’t been willing to venture,” says The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent.” An Elizabeth Warren-Scott Brown contest, a Globe headline proclaims, could “rival the Kerry-Weld battle royale.”

At least two of the Democratic candidates for Senate are maintaining their bravado and insisting to Keller@Large they will not retreat in the face of the feisty consumer advocate’s official entry into the race.

But Warren comes battle-ready. In the wake of the debacle that left her on the outside looking in at her baby, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Warren declared “My first choice is a strong consumer agency. My second choice is no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.”

Beware of a woman ready to spread carnage. 
 
                                                                                                                                                        --GABRIELLE GURLEY

BEACON HILL

As lawmakers prepare to take up casino legislation today, the Globe reports that the bill is leaving millions of dollars in state revenue on the table by taxing casinos at a rate that would put Massachusetts in the middle of the pack nationally. Meanwhile, opponents yesterday lambasted the embrace of casinos as a “fleecing” of taxpayers that takes money from the poor to enrich out-of-state billionaires. Gambling opponents hammer home the social problems they expect. And here’s one last thing to chew on before today’s debate: Wages at Atlantic City’s oldest casino have plummeted, setting the stage for a possible wage reset across the east coast.

A state funded nonprofit company that helps people with disabilities get jobs fired its CEO for putting his wife on the payroll, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

A new study finds tougher state licensing laws have led to a decrease in fatal accidents among 16-year-olds, WBUR reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Yesterday’s preliminary election in Fall River whittled the field for City Council to 18 with three newcomers in prime position to oust some veterans on the nine-member council.

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, whose 2007 and 2009 races topped the state in campaign contributions and spending in mayoral races outside of Boston, has raised and spent more than six times the amount of his opponent in the upcoming election.

More evidence of a warming of relations in the cold war that has been going between the Menino administration and Vornado Realty Trust, the owner of the Filene’s hole in the ground in Boston’s Downtown Crossing.

Shirley Town Meeting voters reject warrant articles for capital project funding.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

President Obama’s jobs bill could hurt charities because some of it would be financed by capping tax write-offs for the rich at 28 percent, down from the current 35 percent deduction for charitable donations, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.

The number of people living in poverty hit an all-time high last year, the poverty rate is at its highest since 1993,  and middle class incomes fell as well, the New York Times reports. WBUR reports 46 million people were poor. The Economist looks at new Census figures on income, poverty, health insurance which are all pretty dismal.

ELECTION 2012

Rick Perry, who said this summer he wasn’t even sure where Martha’s Vineyard was and declared in his book that he’d never consider living in Massachusetts, found his way to downtown Boston last night, where he spoke at a dinner sponsored by the Pioneer Institute. The Texas governor offered a not-too-veiled swipe at his chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination, ex-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, by suggesting Romney has gone wobbly and softened his past harsh criticisms of Social Security. Click here for NECN’s report. The New York Times reports that Perry is finding the top of the polls to be a lonely place.

Pennsylvania Republicans want to tinker with how electoral votes are allocated in the Keystone State, moving from a winner take all system to an allocation of one electoral vote per congressional district--a move could spell doom for President Obama in the Electoral College if other states move in that direction.

The Wall Street Journal blasts what it calls Michele Bachmann’s “know-nothingism” on HPV vaccinations. Dr. Henry I. Miller, a former FDA administrator, says in the National Review that Perry’s move could have saved lives and Bachmann and others should keep their ignorance to themselves. Thomas Friedman swipes at Bachmann and Perry over climate change.

Salon asks: How does one reason with a politically suicidal base?

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A Commerce Department report says the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA-NH metro region had the fastest GDP growth of all metropolitan areas in 2010, nearly twice the national average. Via Universal Hub. On the flip side, median household income nationwide has fallen for the third straight year, and now stands at 1996 levels.

US News & World Report takes a look at why consumers aren’t spending money and says it begins and ends with the weak housing market and depressed home values.

Credit card debt is rising at an alarming rate, Time reports.

The US Department of Labor slaps Bostik Inc. with a $917,000 fine for 50 alleged violations of workplace safety standards in connection with a March explosion that injured four workers, the Salem News reports.

EDUCATION

As the University of Massachusetts Amherst launches its search for a new chancellor, the Springfield Republican calls for a candidate with “clout” and a little more transparency in the search process.

Space is a problem in the elementary and middle schools in Newton.

A lawsuit alleges four children riding on a privately owned van hired by the Peabody School Department were physically abused, the Salem News reports.

HEALTH CARE

Partners HealthCare and Blue Cross Blue Shield are close to an agreement that would significantly tamp down the anticipated premiums increases to Blue Cross subscribers as Partners hospitals get on board the insurer’s “global payment” program to cover

TRANSPORTATION

Ever wish that there was a weekend train to the Cape? One may soon be running if the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority can work out a deal with MassDOT.

Westborough selectmen approve a plan to allow a CSX expansion which will help speed the way for more trains between Boston and Worcester.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has denied several requests, including one from Attorney General Martha Coakley, to suspend its license renewal proceedings of the Pilgrim power plant in Plymouth until  review of the Japanese reactor meltdown was complete.

Emails obtained by Republican congressional investigators show that White House officials pushed the approval of a $500 million loan to the California based solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra so that Vice President Biden could announce the deal at a groundbreaking at the company’s factory.

TODDLER TRAGEDY

Investigators continue to try to piece together information that would explain how a 17-month-old Dorchester toddler was left for more than six hours in a sweltering day care center transportation van on Monday. Gabriel Josh-Cazir Pierre was found dead in the van when the driver realized he had left him there.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Newsweek reports it’s payback time for Whitey Bulger in Boston.

A volunteer with the Big Brother-Big Sister program faces fives counts of forced rape of a child in Gloucester District Court, the Gloucester Times reports.

The Bristol District Attorney has referred the investigation into the death of a Guatemalan immigrant while in New Bedford police custody last year to a special prosecutor to avoid a conflict of interest.

The man who was convicted of drunken driving when he hit State Trooper Ellen Engelhardt in 2003 and left her in a “minimally conscious state” for eight years until her death in June, was indicted on motor vehicle homicide charges by the Plymouth District Attorney.

MEDIA

Eleanor Clift, writing in The Daily Beast, says hours of interviews with Jackie O reveal a harsh and petty first lady. Click here for video excerpts.

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