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Worries about Warren

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A new Western New England University poll has Sen. Scott Brown rocketing past Elizabeth Warren, and that has some Democrats sizing up the distance between the window ledge and the pavement below. The Globe’s Frank Phillips writes today about the sudden unease gripping Bay State Democrats.

“As the mood of the electorate appears to have swung toward the incumbent senator,” Phillips writes, “it has shaken much of the early confidence among the Democrats who, thrilled with the energy that went into her first months of Warren’s campaign, were convinced that she would beat Brown in November.”

The Western New England poll has Brown up by eight points on Warren. It seems to confirm a sharp turn the race has taken since Brown began talking up social issues and hugging Ted Kennedy’s ghost. The Brown-as-Kennedy meme worked before, when Brown took command of the 2010 Senate race by invoking JFK. Kennedy family protests aside, the tactic looks like a winner again: It has put some distance between himself and Warren, whose splashy entrance into the Senate race had her up by seven points in December.

UMass Boston political scientist and CommonWealth contributor Maurice Cunningham tells Phillips it’s a long way until November, and the fretting Dems should “come off the ledge and put the sharp instruments away.”

Still, the poll shows some troubling trends for the Warren camp. Brown has widened his lead among unenrolled voters by ten points since an early February MassINC Polling Group survey; he’s now up by 29 points among that group. Brown is also up by 21 points among men, while Warren is up by just four points among women; in December, the two were polling evenly among men, with Warren holding a 13-point lead among women.

Democratic consultant Dan Payne tells the Globe that his conversations with party leaders have revealed fretting over the race’s direction. “She has come out of the starting gate incredibly fast, but since then she has plateaued,’’ he said. “The burst of good feeling that greeted her candidacy has worn off.’’

                                                                                                                        --PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL

Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson claims Gov. Deval Patrick reduced the supplemental budget for his department and that of three other Republican sheriffs because they opposed the administration on the Secure Communities Act.

Republican state Rep. Paul Adams says he was unaware his parents and brother donated $30,000 on his behalf to the Marlborough Republican Town Committee even though he was living with his parents and his father was his campaign treasurer, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Health care companies accounted for nearly two-thirds of the funds raised by Rep. Steven Walsh of Lynn during the second half of 2011, the Lynn Item reports. Walsh is working on legislation to change the way health care is paid for.

A legislative committee is scheduled to hear a bill today that would give the attorney general the power to weigh in on rate-setting by private water companies much the same way the office does on other utilities.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow, in his weekly Globe column, explains why Boston’s latest vow to revive Roxbury’s Dudley Square may actually work.

Two city councilors in Gloucester propose raising the mayor’s salary from $75,000 to $100,000 a year, effective in 2014, the Gloucester Times reports.

Swansea has depleted its snow removal budget. Seriously.

Foxborough bigs have not been bowled over by Steve Wynn’s recent DVD mailer.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The conservative Koch brothers have filed suit against the Cato Institute, which they helped found 30 years ago, but in doing so, they may have inadvertently revealed the libertarian think tank was not eligible for its tax-exempt status. The New York Times looks at the battle for Cato.

New gas taxes a hard sell with prices rising so quickly, Governing reports.

ELECTION 2012

Former Maine governor Angus King, who served as an independent, says he will run for Olympia Snowe’s Senate seat, the New York Times reports. That could complicate matters for Maine Democrats who are concerned that his independent candidacy could tip the seat to the Republicans.

Mitt Romney has gone from Mitt the Inevitable to Mitt the Acceptable. And he is expected to win today’s GOP primary in the Bay State even though unaffiliated voters in regions like the Berkshires could serve up some surprises. But, surprise, voters nationwide really don’t like any of the Republican candidates very much. Neither does former first lady Barbara Bush. The Times casts the race as a battle for blue-collar voters. David Bernstein argues that the national press should realize “that Romney and his campaign simply cannot be trusted, in any way, about anything.” Beacon Hill Republicans send out love letters to Romney, but neglect to affix four-figure checks to the missives.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie endorses US Sen. Scott Brown in his reelection bid, NECN reports.

The GOP worries about Ron Paul and where his followers might go in November.

Rick Santorum: Still broke as a joke. The Republican rewards child campaign labor with phone calls or free sweater vests -- but not both. Margery Eagan looks at the stampede of women fleeing Santorum’s camp.

The Atlantic spotlights the GOP’s Next Big Thing, Ohio’s 34-year old state treasurer.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Keller@Large wonders why the Chevy Volt hasn’t taken off (maybe because of tests that showed it can burst into flames?) after General Motors announced it was suspending production because of lagging sales.

Harvard Law School heavy Charles Ogletree has offered to help mediate the showdown between Charles Street AME Church in Roxbury and OneUnited Bank.

Plans are unveiled for a 14-story building in Boston’s Seaport district, the Globe reports.

Boston is pulling a Vertex with Google, wooing the search giant after expansion plans in Cambridge run into a roadblock.

EDUCATION

Pioneer Institute’s Jim Stergios gives a flavor for why his organization has so vehemently opposed the adoption of national Common Core education standards, and offers a pretty entertaining poke at the Fordham Institute’s Checker Finn in the process.

HEALTH CARE

Partners HealthCare is offering bonuses to its primary care doctors who agree to add new patients to their practices as part of an effort to help address the shortage of such providers.

We are the 98 percent: The Globe’s Bella English talks to a few of the people who make up the 98 percent of Catholic women who use birth control.

TRANSPORTATION

The business group A Better City is seeking a 25 percent cap on MBTA fare hikes. At an ABC roundtable yesterday, Sen. Tom McGee, who co-chairs the Legislature’s transportation committee, said the T needs an infusion of cash. He did not say where this cash would come from. Don’t look to the House for any answers.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A well water system serving a 23-unit townhouse complex in Stoughton may be contaminated by bacteria from a nearby cemetery.

The owners of a cranberry bog in Carver have agreed to restore 26 acres of wetlands and pay a $75,000 fine to  the Environmental Protection Agency to settle 12-year-old charges that they violated the Clean Water Act.

MEDIA

A ninth sponsor has now bailed on Rush Limbaugh despite his sort-of apology for his over-the-top comments, and some wonder if he can weather this storm or if he’s overstayed his welcome. A Pittsfield station, along with one in Hawaii, has dropped Limbaugh’s program.
The National Review compares the media’s treatment of Joe the Plumber vs. Sandra Fluke. Former Reagan White House political director Jeffrey Lord wants to organize a “Rally for Rush” to defend him against the bullies on the left and gives out contact information for all the departing advertisers.

A bill before the Legislature to shield journalists from revealing their sources would extend to bloggers as well.

Alternative weeklies such as the Boston Phoenix are forming their own content exchange, reports the Nieman Journalism Lab.

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