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Senate hopefuls: woe is me!

Posted in: Elections   *Michael Jonas
Tags: Senate election Michael Jonas Ed Markey Stephen Lynch CommonWealth



The Democratic primary for US Senate is shaping up so far as a showdown between two Bay State congressmen. Neither Ed Markey nor Steve Lynch is exactly an electrifying figure, but some of the early coverage is nonetheless zeroing in on biography and personality as keys to the race. And in what’s becoming a weary staple of campaigns, they are tripping over each other to tell us how rough they had it growing up.

Herald columnist -- and South Boston resident -- Peter Gelzinis weighed in on Friday with an homage to the local-kid-made-good. Under the headline “Working-class hero Steve Lynch has got the goods,” he chronicles the local congressman’s rise from the Southie housing projects to ironworker to law school to dragon slayer, when he took down the son of Bill Bulger in a legendary special election tilt. That race showed Lynch’s mettle as an upstart not easily intimidated by the standing order. As if anyone needs to have it spelled out, in the new installment of this David and Goliath parable, Markey will be playing the part of the elder Bulger (on whom voters were rendering a verdict in 1996, his son’s name on the ballot notwithstanding).

“Much like Bulger, Markey has occupied a kind of cloistered world of marble corridors and committee rooms for the better part of the past 40 years,” writes Gelzinis, adding that outside of perhaps his Malden hometown, “Markey is seen as a kind of elegant stranger.”

Just when it seemed as if Gelzinis had relegated Markey to the dust-bin of has-been Beltway blowhards, however, he comes back with a warm-glow Sunday column that trots out Markey’s biography, which includes no silver spoons and plenty of hardscrabble roots. The grandson of Irish immigrants, Markey worked his way through Boston College by driving an ice cream truck, photos of which Gelzinis is confident we’ll all be well acquainted with in short order.

All of this stuff surely matters, but there is a danger in overplaying how much it matters. Yes, Scott Brown milked the everyman image for all it was worth when he shocked his way past Martha Coakley. But did Elizabeth Warren clean Brown’s clock because she, too, grew up on “the ragged edge of the middle class,” or because she convinced voters she’d stand up to the Wall Street greedheads that Brown was collecting lots of campaign donations from?

Where the candidates stand on issues will matter in a primary for US Senate. That’s why Lynch appeared eager to chat up Gelzinis’s Herald colleague Margery Eagan for a column in which he awkwardly works both sides of the abortion issue, but hopes that at least Democratic primary voters decide he’s no pro-life zealot.  Meanwhile, it’s no accident that Markey is making clear his strong support for abortion rights, and also touting his stands on gun control, climate change, and all sorts of other issues that liberal-leaning primary voters care about.

--MICHAEL JONAS

BEACON HILL

Gov. Deval Patrick sat down with Keller@Large to talk about taxes, the process of selecting the replacement for John Kerry, and his plans for his final two years in office.

Many lawmakers seem to be abandoning Beacon Hill for better-paying, private-sector jobs, the Lowell Sun reports.

Lawyers for jailed former House speaker Sal DiMasi head to court tomorrow to ask a federal appeals court to overturn his bribery conviction.

CASINOS

The web magazine Next American City visits Cleveland to ask whether an urban casino can lift up a struggling downtown. It includes this quote, sure to warm Mayor Tom Menino’s heart: “The idea that casinos are a quick fix — well, that’s the same thing gamblers think. Yeah, it’d be great to have more money. But normally, people work. You can’t get something for nothing. Cities want the same thing. But casinos are not going to save them.”

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

South Shore communities have seen a sharp increase in openings for town managers and town administrators over the past few years.

Many residents of SouthField, the mixed use project on the site of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station, are frustrated over the confusing governance structure controlling the  development that is run by an appointed board from three area towns.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Nebraska Lt. Gov. Rich Sheehy resigns after being confronted with phone records showing 2,300 phone calls over four years to a handful of women other than his wife, the Omaha World-Herald reports.

The rallying around Chuck Hagel begins, starting with members of his own party.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor takes the Sonia show on the road, to rave reviews.

New York magazine publishes a huge requiem for former mayor Ed Koch, including an interview with Mario Cuomo, and an essay on how Koch’s towering ego led the city back to sanity.

Paul Krugman parses the struggle for the soul of Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

ELECTIONS

Richard Tisei says he won’t run for the US Senate, the Salem News reports. Bill Weld breaks Scot Lehigh’s heart and makes his lack of interest in the seat official. Tagg Romney is considering a run, though. Rep. Dan Winslow will announce his intentions on Tuesday. New state party chair Kirsten Hughes says the GOP doesn’t need to recruit a big name for the special election. Political science professors Maurice “Mo” Cunningham and Peter Ubertaccio discuss the Ed Markey-Steve Lynch match-up in the Democratic primary for US Senate in a new CommonWealth magazine “Face to Face” video.

The Beat the Press panel parses Scott Brown’s decision to opt out of the special Senate election and his text to the Boston Herald to make the announcement. Boston Herald columnist Michael Graham says good riddance to Brown because of the way he ran against Elizabeth Warren: by reminding Massachusetts voters how much he hates Republicans and by attempting to become “the first man ever to grow his own ovaries.”

Some Republicans support a move to a popular vote-driven electoral college.

Big-money Republican donors establish a committee to recruit seasoned Senate candidates, and defend incumbents against the likes of Richard Mourdock.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A MassBenchmarks report finds that the Bay State economy is not making much progress due, in large part, to federal government cuts.

EDUCATION

The Republican supports a UMass satellite campus in downtown Springfield.

UMass Boston is shutting down its program in gerontology, which was once a leader in the field.

Attorney General Martha Coakley is widening her probe of for-profit education outfits.

A court orders a mother to pay $12,000 to the Swampscott school system because she and her son were not actually living in town while he attended classes there. The mother and son were actually living in Lynn while their Swampscott condo was being rehabbed, the Salem News reports.


HEALTH CARE

On his Not Running a Hospital blog, Paul Levy does an update on the state of the hospital industry in the Boston area after a number of sales and mergers in the past several months. His analysis of Steward Health Care is more critical than the Globe’s Sunday report.

The Urban Ecology Institute Gateway Cities Initiative, in a study funded by a grant from the state, just completed an inventory of the number, types, age, and health of trees all over Fall River.

So far this winter, marine mammal strandings are down on the Cape.

Boulder, Colorado, is preparing to take over the privately owned local utility and reorient its operations toward green energy, Governing reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The Globe reports that firearms crimes are up in Massachusetts despite passage in 1998 of new gun control laws.

MEDIA

Dan Kennedy has a tribute to three Globe mainstays who have quietly moved on -- political reporter Brian Mooney, columnist Alex Beam, and editorial cartoonist Dan Wasserman, although Wasserman will continue to freelance for the paper.

Johnny Depp has been picked to play James “Whitey” Bulger in the film adaptation of Black Mass, the book by former Globe Spotlight members Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill.

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