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Attorney General Martha Coakley is the frontrunner in all the gubernatorial polls, but on Tuesday she took a beating on two issues that are likely to figure prominently in the leadup to the November election.

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The three Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls who emerged from this weekend's state convention came together Monday evening in a sharp clash over campaign finance. The sparks flying between Attorney General Martha Coakley, the clear Democratic frontrunner, and Treasurer Steve Grossman, seem to indicate the state is in for a long, bitterly fought primary contest. Still, the substance of what Coakley and Grossman were fighting over on Monday was almost irrelevant. Coakley and Grossman are arguing over whether to sideline super PAC spending, but outside money is already flowing into the gubernatorial contest at a rapid clip.

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The Democratic State Convention in Worcester this weekend proved Will Rogers's point when he said, "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat."

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Once upon a time, Scott Brown was riding high. He rocketed from backbencher within a Massachusetts state Senate Republican caucus that could convene in a phone booth to national political superstar.  He was the barn-coat-clad man-of-the-people who delivered a whupping to those pointy-headed Bay State Democrats by stealing Ted Kennedy's seat right out from under them. (Before Elizabeth Warren stole it back two years later.)

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What's the point of having an election if only one person wants to run? That's just what will happen in five congressional "races" come November: US Reps. Michael Capuano, Richard Neal, Stephen Lynch, James McGovern, and Joseph Kennedy are all running unopposed.  

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Political insiders have been striking out in Massachusetts governor's races for decades. In the years since Foster Furcolo parlayed a job as state treasurer into a stint in the corner office, back in the 1950s, statewide officeholders are a collective 0-for-17 in gubernatorial contests. Gubernatorial politics in Massachusetts has been stacked in favor of political outsiders, and against entrenched insiders, for a generation. But time is running out for the current crop of Democratic gubernatorial outsiders to keep the streak going.

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The ghosts of 2010 are rattling their chains. There are so many problems plaguing Attorney General Martha Coakley's run for governor that it is difficult to know where to begin.

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Kirsten Hughes must, at times, feel like King Sisyphus. Though Hughes, the chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, has never been accused of being deceitful like the Corinthian ruler of Greek mythology, she must have done something to be tasked with pushing an enormous boulder up Beacon Hill, only to watch it roll back down, flattening the struggling GOP in its path.

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Back in March, former governor Bill Weld was arguing that Charlie Baker, the onetime Weld aide and presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee, had nothing to fear in a potential Republican primary matchup against Mark Fisher. Now, it looks like Weld will get the chance to prove himself right.

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Republicans nationally have been licking their chops over the prospects of midterm election gains, with doubts about the Affordable Care Act the lead card the GOP will play in many races. But however bright the short-term outlook for the party might be, without a major reworking of Republican positions and platform planks the long-term picture may be considerably more ominous.

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The colorful and controversial William Lantigua made it official: He intends to run for his old House seat representing Lawrence as an independent. He still has to submit 150 voter signatures by Tuesday, but that shouldn't be a big hurdle for a man who has been a fixture in Lawrence politics as mayor and state rep since 2002.

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First-term senators are getting quite a bit of media attention, courtesy of the latest parlor game, "Is Elizabeth Warren running for president?" All the senior senator from Massachusetts had to do was publish a folksy memoir to generate loads of speculation about her designs, or lack of them, on the 2016 presidential race.

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Politicians can proclaim their disinterest in an office all they want, especially president, but until the deadline passes - or they stop talking and acting like a candidate - they will be included in the conversations.

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The race for governor is still young, but so far, it's a contest that's lacked both star power and sizzle. Early polling shows that the race hasn't registered with voters. It's possible that the hottest point of contention in November won't come from the gubernatorial candidates themselves. Instead, the real heat in November will surround casino gambling.

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The front-page of this morning's New York Times takes readers inside the campaign of Eric Lesser, a bright-eyed 29-year-old running for an open state Senate seat in Western Massachusetts. The paper is not particularly interested, however, in state budget matters facing the Legislature, the short shrift Western Mass. residents often feel they get, or any other other issues preoccupying voters in Wilbraham or Ludlow.

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US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the country's feistiest Democrat, goes where the once cool Barack Obama cannot, parachuting into Senate races around the country to try to shore up the party's currently shaky November prospects.

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The road to the Massachusetts governor's office used to run through the belt of suburbs between Boston and Worcester. Now, it runs through cities. And that shift makes the state GOP's bid to reclaim the governor's office far more complicated than it used to be.

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Scott Brown 's move to New Hampshire, and his impending run against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, have set area political circles aflame. That's the power of Brown's political celebrity. He plays well in the press because the guy loves the camera and he delivers fantastic copy. Just this week, he told the AP, "Do I have the best credentials? Probably not. 'Cause, you know, whatever. But I do have strong ties to this state." But at this stage, it's looking like the legacy of Brown's political comeback tour will come in the form of impressive Twitter photo-ops, not in a changed Senate map. Politically, it doesn't look like Brown's New Hampshire Senate run has changed anything.

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It's been a generation or two since the GOP in Massachusetts - the so-called Saltonstall, Sargent, and Lodge Republicans who would now be termed RINOs on the national stage - was more than an afterthought in state politics.

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Big-name Democrats abandoned William Lantigua last fall, as the then-mayor of Lawrence battled for his political life. Now, as Lantigua lays the groundwork for a possible political comeback, he has returned the favor and severed his ties to the Democratic Party.

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Scott Brown couldn't hold on to his Senate seat two years ago, despite being one of the most popular politicians in Massachusetts. The lesson in Brown's 8-point loss to Elizabeth Warren appeared to be that, in the liberal Bay State, ideology trumps affability. Brown promptly packed up his pickup truck, sold his Wrentham home, decamped to New Hampshire, and began making noises about running for Senate in his new home state -- where, presumably, he could cash in on his political stardom without carrying his political party around his neck like an albatross.

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There are some real differences between Republican and Democratic candidates for governor as well as for the North Shore congressional seat held by longtime incumbent John Tierney. Abortion rights, gay marriage, and the wisdom of wacky Tea Party positions, however, are not really among them.

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The state Democratic Party’s rule requiring a candidates for governor to get 15 percent of the delegate votes at the state convention in order to appear on the primary ballot is a sitting target for those who yearn for a more freewheeling, open democratic process. The rule, which dates back to the early 1980s, smacks of the distasteful strong-arming tactics of party bosses and other insiders who hijack political decision-making to serve their own self-serving ends.

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In business, and in general, when a contract expires, that means a person and a company are no longer tethered to each other. They can choose to continue the relationship by renewing the contract, sign another, or have an arrangement at-will.

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Despite Frank Addivinola’s early evening robocalls proclaiming a path to victory through low turnout, an upset was not on the agenda in Tuesday’s Fifth Congressional District special election . Katherine Clark soundly trounced the Boston Republican 66 percent to 32 percent. Two independent candidates pulled in the remaining percentage points

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Charlie Baker 2.0 has learned two important lessons from Charlie Baker 1.0. First, he had to lighten up. Second, he needed to appeal to women voters who were turned off by his angry persona. The Republican gubernatorial candidate has worked to fix the first issue by stressing his father-husband-Red Sox fan bona-fides and sporting broad smiles and purple ties.

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Lawrence may be done with Willie Lantigua, but Lantigua is not yet done with Lawrence.

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Daniel Rivera on Tuesday edged out incumbent William Lantigua in the race for Lawrence mayor by a margin of just 60 votes. But 66 ballots are still in play -- 54 provisional ballots filed by people who said they had registered to vote but weren’t on the voter list, three mailed-in ballots, and as many as nine absentee ballots still coming in from overseas.

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Mr. Personality

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Boston’s mayoral race closes today with a fire hose of outside super PAC money dousing the city. It’s an unprecedented shift for municipal politics in the city. But it’s not unique.The situation Boston is seeing -- huge inflows of money into a relatively low-dollar race -- is repeating itself across the country. Super PACs rose to prominence during last year’s presidential race. But they’re finding they have much greater running room in smaller, local races.

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With just days to go before Boston’s mayoral election, mystery money is flooding the race, most of it going to benefit Marty Walsh.

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Boston political watchers are breathlessly anticipating the final week of the mayoral showdown. Tomorrow is the last of three televised debates between John Connolly and Marty Walsh. The candidates will work themselves to utter exhaustion by next Tuesday. Thousands of dollars will be spent on their ground games and airwave ads, in a race where a massive infusion of out-of-state spending, driven by labor interests backing Walsh, is setting a new standard for the role of outside, unaccountable expenditures in US mayoral politics.

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Word over the weekend that an outside group backing Marty Walsh was sending a mailer that disparaged John Connolly as a “son of privilege” and “privileged corporate lawyer” was the first thing resembling a real attack in the Boston mayoral race. And it was pretty weak tea at that.

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Most Massachusetts officeholders don’t want to be seen anywhere near Lawrence City Hall these days if they don’t have to be there. Members of Congress tend to stay way far away from mayoral races, especially if it’s a dicey one like the November contest between incumbent William Lantigua and his challenger, Dan Rivera.

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In a wildcat strike that took Boston by surprise Tuesday morning, school bus drivers walked off the job, stranding thousands of students without a way to get to school. Officials said just 30 of 650 buses were on the roads.

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When the Boston police arbitration award first popped two Fridays ago, it looked like an issue that could be trouble for mayoral candidate Marty Walsh. By this weekend, there seemed to be little doubt that the union muscle that has been the mainstay of Walsh's rise in politics may also prove to be an Alcatraz around his neck.

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Billionaire New Yorker David H. Koch landed in both Boston newspapers on Friday for very different reasons. The Herald ran a story on an environmental group that is calling on WGBH to oust Koch from its board because of his views on climate change. The Globe, meanwhile, reports that the nation’s fourth richest person ponied up $20 million for the just-opened David H. Koch Childcare Center at MIT, which will greatly expand onsite child care for researchers and other employees at the university.

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Marty Walsh is making Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham look bad. Yvonne Abraham does not like looking bad. And so, in what's increasingly looking like a defining issue in Boston 's mayoral race , Abraham takes Walsh to the woodshed today over public employee union contracts.

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What’s old is new again in Boston. John Connolly and Marty Walsh, two middle-aged white men of Irish descent, will go into the general election to succeed to Mayor Tom Menino. A New York Times headline says it all: “Tradition Trumps Diversity in Boston Mayoral Vote.”

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Bostonians head to the polls today. For the first time in two decades, they’re picking up mayoral ballots that don’t have Tom Menino’s name on them. As the city works to tap Menino’s successor, the retrospective takes on Menino’s 20 years in office are beginning to roll in. They’re wildly varied -- in part, because there’s no consensus about what it means to be a great mayor in the modern era.

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Two big takeaways from the final days of the Boston mayor’s race are that a lot of voters have yet to make up their mind, and the race has remained remarkably congenial. That may be no coincidence.

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Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua’s victory in the city’s preliminary contest shocked exactly no one in the Merrimack Valley. While Boston has had an issue-focused mayoral primary campaign and other races across the state wrapped up with few fireworks, Lawrence has been consumed by one thing only: Lantigua’s unstoppable march to the November general election.

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Today’s Globe endorses Boston mayoral hopeful John Barros, while scolding former Menino aide Charlotte Golar Richie for running a lackadaisical, identity-laden campaign. That may not be enough to push Barros over the top. (He shared the Globe endorsement with perceived frontrunner John Connolly.) But maybe it’s enough to get Richie surrogates to stop trying to elbow Barros out of the race.

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There is a sort of natural selection to the shaping of a political race and Massachusetts voters are beginning to see the electoral circle of life.
 
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Charles Yancey has no shot at getting elected mayor of Boston in November. Charles Yancey is also a veteran Boston politician whom none of the 11 other would-be mayors of Boston can write off. And because of the convergence of these two sets of facts, it’s looking like no mayoral candidate will cause as much angst as Yancey will. And really, in the end, isn’t that the point?

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The state’s Democrats kicked off their gubernatorial hunt last week with a convention in Lowell. The Republican answer came more quietly, in the form of a meeting and conference call among Charlie Baker, Scott Brown, Bill Weld, and Ron Kaufman.

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It’s almost scary how accurate the polls were in  the US Senate race between Democrat Ed Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez. Markey defeated Gomez by 10 points, and polls on average pegged his margin of victory at 10 points.

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Will Boston Bruins fans be so distraught that they won’t drag themselves to their neighborhood polling place to vote in the US Senate special election? Apparently, according to Secretary of State William Galvin, who cited the Bruins now sadly concluded championship series as one of the reasons that some people would not vote today.  Other reasons Galvin put forward were the summer heat, the Whitey Bulger trial, and the end of the school year.

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What if they held a special election and, relatively speaking, nobody came? It could happen. It actually could happen tomorrow with the uninspiring special Senate election that has been relegated to afterthought in the news and in the priorities of voters.

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Comparisons to Scott Brown have been swirling around Gabriel Gomez ever since the Cohasset businessman and former Navy SEAL stormed past a pair of longtime Bay State Republican fixtures, and into a Senate showdown with Rep. Ed Markey.

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There is an election for US Senate in Massachusetts two weeks from tomorrow -- and the Boston Herald is going to beat readers over the head with that news from now until June 25. But it’s not likely to do much to energize voters who seem as excited about the race as they would be a trip to the dentist.

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The more Gabriel Gomez tries to put some daylight between himself and the national GOP, the tighter Gomez’s party clings to him. These guys absolutely cannot take a hint and go away, at least until after June 25. Gomez desperately wants the upcoming Senate election to be a referendum on his fighter jacket and square jaw and single-celled aquatic organisms. But the national GOP keeps mucking that up with its own presence. And the more the Senate race is about the national GOP, the steeper Gomez’s odds get.

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Republican Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez is trying to distance himself from the national GOP. This proves that, in addition to being a successful businessman and former Navy SEAL, Gomez also knows how to count.

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By all rights, Regina McCarthy’s nomination by President Obama to head the Environmental Protection Agency should be sailing through the normally partisan-riven Senate. The Dorchester native and UMass Boston graduate is a career environmental official with a sensitivity toward businesses, having served under all four recent Republican governors in Massachusetts, including Mitt Romney. She received unanimous confirmation in the Senate for her current post as second in charge at the federal agency.

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Gabriel Gomez, the ex-Navy Seal, private equity man, and telegenic son of Colombian immigrants, steps into the spotlight as Massachusetts Republicans’ dream come true.  He represents the best attempt yet for both the national and state parties to retool their image for the next generation, especially in the Northeast, and engage in some much needed outreach to Latino and other minority voters.

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Polls don’t actually vote. Special elections go sideways sometimes. But barring some cataclysmic shift, Ed Markey has a pretty good shot at becoming the Democratic nominee for US Senate tonight -- a designation that would give Markey a pretty good shot at sliding into John Kerry’s old job. There’s a good deal of poetry at work here. Markey’s candidacy has been met with widespread indifference, making him a natural heir to Kerry’s Senate seat.

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The editorial boards of the Lowell Sun and the Boston Globe don’t share much common ideological ground. Over the past two days, though, both papers have endorsed state Rep. Dan Winslow, a longtime GOP activist turned legislative back-bencher, for Senate. The endorsements are effectively a joint diagnosis of the dysfunction currently wracking the Massachusetts Republican Party. So it’s only fitting that the choice of both the lunch-bucket Sun and the liberal Globe is running a distant third in the three-way Senate race.

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Are you a diehard Massachusetts Republican looking to cast your lot with a Senate candidate who shared your support for 2008 presidential nominee John McCain? Gabriel Gomez could be your man.

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Is Steve Lynch the Scott Brown of the Democratic primary for US Senate?

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The US Senate race is finally starting to take shape: US Reps. Stephen Lynch and Ed Markey are running on the Democratic side, and now the Republicans have state Rep. Dan Winslow, who may be joined next week by state Sen. Bruce Tarr.

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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.

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It’s no wonder Scott Brown is reluctant to mount another run for the US Senate after watching his already-weak state party base splinter into warring camps in voting for a new leader. Kirsten Hughes, an ally of Brown, won the party’s chairmanship, but her margin of victory over the more conservative Rick Green was just two votes and it took her two ballots to come out on top.

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The reaction to Gov. Deval Patrick tapping friend and confidant William “Mo” Cowan for the interim post to replace Sen. John Kerry was a muted “meh” in and out of politics.

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As John Kerry embarks on his “Thank you, Massachusetts” tour, his move out of the shadow of Ted Kennedy is complete. While Kennedy’s heart was solidly in Massachusetts, the Vietnam veteran and son of a Foreign Service officer, focused on the world beyond the Bay State.  

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Losing on five of six of anything will sting, whether it’s losing on a handful of scratch tickets or a weeklong homestand at Fenway. The pain increases dramatically when the losing streak in question involves the majority of voters in the country telling you, every four years, that you believe the wrong things on pretty much everything -- especially when you’ve convinced yourself that you’re right. So the Republican anguish and soul-searching that followed November’s disastrous presidential election was to be expected. It didn’t matter so much that the possible solutions for the GOP’s ineffectual stabs at the White House, and at a Senate majority, were completely at odds with one another. One vocal wing of pundits was urging Republicans to moderate hard-line stances on immigration, women’s issues, and social safety net spending, while the other wing blamed November on the party’s insufficiently muscular conservatism. The important thing, at the time, was that national Republicans realized they were up against the wall, and were looking for a solution.

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The Massachusetts Republican brand suffered more catastrophic damage, if that was possible, when Scott Brown and Richard Tisei, the party’s two leading lights, went down for the count in November. In the aftermath, however, rather than concentrate on contesting John Kerry’s US Senate seat, the state GOP has decided that the way forward is some good, old-fashioned internecine warfare.

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Lieutenant Gov. Tim Murray has already told the world he wants to be governor. He’s putting some muscle behind those ambitions, outraising the rest of Beacon Hill in 2012. Murray’s problem is, he’s still acting like a guy whose path to higher office is defined by endorsements and party loyalty and fundraising clout. Murray isn’t able to play that game anymore. He’s one of the few folks remaining on Beacon Hill acknowledging this fact.

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Hope you didn’t spend too much money on Christmas gifts this year because it appears there will be no shortage of potential candidates knocking on your door for donations to run a Senate campaign for the third time in three years with a fourth on the horizon in 2014. And we have the polls to kick off the season. Continue Reading
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The battle now underway for the top slot in the Massachusetts Republican Party calls to mind Henry Kissinger’s often cited commentary on the pitched battles in the ivory towers of academia: The politics are vicious because the stakes are so small. Continue Reading
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Mitt Romney, who says under his reign Bain Capital was a plus-jobs creator, has dismissed attacks on his record for more than a decade arguing the companies that went belly-up or cut jobs did so after he left Bain in 1999 to go run the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

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Last week Elizabeth Warren could at least point to a poll indicating voters didn’t care about the media’s obsession with her alleged Native American ancestry, but this week there was nowhere to hide.

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At first, Mitt Romney’s recent campaign stop in Philadelphia was a head-scratcher. A group of residents gave him a rousing Philly “welcome,” while Mayor Michael Nutter could only wonder at the spectacle of Romney gushing over African American charter school students and irritating teachers by declaring that class size doesn’t matter.

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Elizabeth Warren continues to take a pounding about her alleged Native American ancestry, but does it matter?

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Who ya gonna call when the young’uns can’t get the job done?  Gov. Deval Patrick.

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Back in January, Newt Gingrich did something so craven and bloodless, it sent shockwaves across the already craven, bloodless world of presidential politics: He cribbed a line of attack from liberal lion Ted Kennedy.

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President Obama’s pronouncement that he supports gay marriage is a seismic shift in the presidential campaign, though it’s little more than a talking point here in Massachusetts, the first state to legalize it.

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Today’s Boston Herald bats around the case of John Kerry, who is a politician from Massachusetts. Specifically, the paper adds to a mountain of news clips speculating about Kerry’s desire to be something other than a politician from Massachusetts. But this time, there’s a hook -- according to the Herald’s Kimberly Atkins, Kerry might block his own exit and turn down a potential appointment to the Obama cabinet.

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Mitt Romney has gotten himself into another fine mess, this time with his inability to stand up to the anti-gay wing of the Republican Party.

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The right-wing remaking of the Republican Party continues apace, and Indiana is the next battlefront in this internecine GOP war. That’s where veteran Republican US senator Richard Lugar faces a strong challenge in the May 8 primary from the state’s treasurer, Richard Mourdock, whom Tea Party types are rallying behind.

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Let the name calling begin. The latest salvo in class warfare, Bay State edition , finds Elizabeth Warren trying to shake off the “elitist hypocrite” label bestowed upon her by US Sen. Scott Brown.

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Keep the clicker ready. Now that the final showdown between President Obama and Mitt Romney is all but set in stone, both sides and their surrogates are gearing up for an onslaught of television advertising that is about to assault your senses and make television station owners very rich.

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Elizabeth Warren has been battling months of grumbling from Bay State Democrats. One would think that a $7 million quarterly fundraising haul -- a total that blows away rival Sen. Scott Brown, whose bankroll had bested pretty much everyone else in the country -- would silence the whispers about Warren’s allegedly wayward campaign. Instead, the Warren campaign’s proficiency at collecting large sums of money is sharpening the focus on the campaign’s alleged organizational shortcomings.

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Earlier this month, Massachusetts Democrats were in panic mode after a handful of polls indicated US Sen. Scott Brown had overtaken and pulled away from Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren.

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The mystery woman who was at the center of a House chamber incident with a Braintree lawmaker last year says she is going to challenge Rep. David Torrisi of North Andover in the Democratic primary this fall.

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It certainly didn’t match the coarseness of Rush Limbaugh’s characterization of an articulate Georgetown University law student as “slut.”  But when Rick Santorum called President Obama a “snob” for encouraging American young people to attend college, it had about the same level of intellectual rigor as the radio blowhard’s gutter-feeding meltdown. Which is to say, not very much at all. Which qualifies, of course, as the kind of criticism one must expect from elitist pointy-headed media types.

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With the entry of Joe Kennedy III into the race for an open US House seat, the political chatter has returned for the umpteenth time to the question of whether the “Kennedy brand” has still has any sway.

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The next stop in the culture wars is the electric car. Newt Gingrich has declared that President Obama now threatens Americans’ right to choose the type of car that they want to drive. At the center of this nefarious plot are electric cars like the Chevrolet Volt. In a recent speech to an Oral Roberts University audience in Tulsa, Gingrich said that Obama’s championing of hybrid electric-gas technology makes him “the most dangerous president in modern American history.”

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Mitt Romney wants to be president, so he needs to win next week’s Michigan primary. A big part of the game plan for pulling that feat off involves reinforcing Romney’s ties to the state where he grew up, where his father served as governor, and where he launched his 2008 presidential run. Which is why a column in yesterday’s Boston Herald should be a giant red flag for Romney’s embattled campaign.

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US Sen. Scott Brown has jumped feet first into a controversy that complicates his Senate campaign.

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The national mainstream media likes its narratives neat and tidy. How else to explain Mitt Romney racking up big numbers among Latinos in Florida? The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza falls into the trap of proclaiming that Romney has made a “leap” among Hispanics and has “overcome his doubters.”

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This afternoon, prominent housing developer Arthur Winn will appear in federal court in Boston and be sentenced for funneling $4,500 in illegal campaign contributions to a pair of Massachusetts congressmen. This evening, it’s very likely that Mitt Romney will stomp all over Newt Gingrich, thanks in large part to Romney’s overwhelming advantage in Florida’s advertising-heavy primary. These two developments are connected, two extremes bookending a warped campaign finance system -- or, at least, that’s what Winn’s attorneys believe. Continue Reading
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Nothing sobers up a president faster than the real prospect of losing a re-election battle. For the past three years, President Obama’s critics on the left have chided him for not taking on the Republicans more forcefully.

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The Republican presidential primary entered a new and brutal phase when it rolled into Florida yesterday, with Mitt Romney going sharply negative on the suddenly re-resurgent Newt Gingrich. Romney is trying hard to link Gingrich to Florida’s depressed housing market via Freddie Mac, the bailed-out mortgage company that paid Gingrich $1.7 million to act as its historian and not-lobbyist. It’s a strategy that’s ripe with danger for both candidates, thanks to Florida’s seriously upside-down housing market.

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Why did Mitt Romney think that his GOP competitors or the national media would sit still while he dithered over the release of his tax returns?  The furor over his personal finances, now compounded by his admission that he “is probably closer to the 15 percent [tax ] rate,”  is a colossal distraction that a candidate with a squishy base of support cannot afford.

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Last week, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson mailed $5 million to Newt Gingrich. Or, rather, he mailed the cash to some friends of Newt, who are permitted to raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash on the former House speaker’s behalf, so long as they don’t talk to him about it. That single act, which breathed new life into Gingrich’s flagging campaign, provided the financial muscle behind Gingrich’s blistering attack on Mitt Romney. And it provided the most vivid example yet of the ability of newly-unleashed outside organizations to shape elections. Continue Reading
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This year’s US Senate campaign is going to be big. Just follow the money. On Tuesday Scott Brown revealed that he raised $3.2 million during the fourth quarter of 2011 for his reelection campaign, giving him more cash on hand than any previous candidate at this stage of a statewide race. All eyes then looked for news of Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren’s totals, and on Wednesday we learned that she had again outpaced Brown to raise a total of $5.7 million in the same period. A Democratic fundraiser told the Globe he’d never had such an easy time raising money. Despite Warren’s numbers, Brown retains a larger war chest overall -- $12.8 million to Warren’s $6 million.

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It is the disparity that dares not speak its name: Income inequality. The focus of the Occupy movement and an increasing number of studies and reports, the gap between rich and poor has now become a prime battle in the most unlikely of places, the GOP presidential primary.

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Now that New Hampshire is one for the history books, it’s time to see how that Nikki Haley endorsement pays off for Mitt Romney.

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There’s nothing like the Kennedy name to change the dynamics of a political contest in Massachusetts, especially at a time when the name is missing from congressional roll calls for the first time since 1947.
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One of two things will happen tonight in Iowa. Mitt Romney might slide backwards into a win in a state he’d initially written off as a nonstarter, thus confirming his invincibility and inevitability as the GOP nominee. Or, Romney might get eclipsed by one of two fringe candidates -- an irascible libertarian or a culture warrior whose curtain call came six years ago. Depending on which scenario plays out tonight, either Mitt Romney will be crowned the nominee a week before voting starts in New Hampshire, or the political irrelevance of the Iowa caucuses will be confirmed.

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Two weeks ago, this very space noted the odd timing of a New York Times Magazine story that marveled at Mitt Romney’s remarkable staying power, given the fact that, between the date the story was written and the date it ran, Romney had been overwhelmed by a Newt Gingrich surge. Gingrich was up by huge numbers in Iowa, South Carolina, Florida, and Ohio, and New Hampshire was looking too close for comfort. The post also noted that, given the breakneck pace at which GOP primary not-Mitts were rising and falling (see: Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, et al), “everything here may be dated and wrong by the time you’re reading this.”

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When President Obama traveled to Kansas recently and delivered speech full of populist fury at the great concentration of wealth among the country’s richest elite, a great sigh of relief could be heard among Democratic Party loyalists. “At last” was the feeling among leading liberals, who had been feeling increasingly ambivalent about a president who seemed to have gone wobbly on fighting the great fight over income polarization that was becoming the economic story of our time.

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The economy, bit by bit and with all sorts of caveats, appears to be improving, which could reshape the political landscape next year.

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Poor Mitt Romney.  Probably a poor choice of words. Which is exactly the problem for the once -- and perhaps future -- front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.  No matter what he does, Romney can’t seem to get away from the characterization of him as a rich guy out of touch with the problems facing most Americans.

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It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. No one has accused Mitt Romney of wrongdoing.  It’s been established that Romney aides operated within the bounds of Massachusetts law when 11 of them purchased their hard drives and that the governor’s predecessors also destroyed electronic communications.

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The Republican presidential primary campaign can be a frustrating exercise for voters interested in substantive discussion of the great issues, what with Michele Bachmann’s talk of the HPV vaccine causing mental retardation, Rick Perry’s lack of familiarity with the voting age enshrined in the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, and (alleged) serial harasser/philanderer Herman Cain’s apparent attempt at a last-ditch defense in which he said there are probably “an infinite number of people who could come forward with a story.”  But that may be nothing compared with the frustration the primary is causing the press, which can’t seem to put together a decent step-back look at the race without having the wacky up-and-down fortunes of various would-be nominees throw a wrench into what only days earlier looked like reasonable storyline.

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Barney Frank totally could have won reelection to his new district. It’s just that he didn’t want to. So, he told reporters at Newton City Hall yesterday, he won’t be running anymore. Frank’s decision to retire from Congress “was precipitated by congressional redistricting, not entirely caused by it,” Frank said yesterday. “I’ve been ambivalent about running, not because I don’t continue to think the job is important but because there are other things I’d like to do in my life before my career is over.”

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Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong received a Martha Coakley-style shock to the system when City Councilor Joseph Solomito trounced her in the September preliminary election, 60 percent to 37 percent. But Wong energized her supporters and then some, riding a record voter turnout in yesterday’s election to stage a stunning comeback victory, thumping Solomito by a 56-44 percent margin.

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It’s election day in Boston, which means all eyes are on Tom Menino. Political watchers are wondering whether he can tamp down an insurrection in South Boston, whether his political machine will run roughshod over its opponents in Dorchester, and whether he can drag Steve Murphy over the finish line again, sticking a dagger in Mike Flaherty’s comeback for good measure.

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Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is built on his business acumen and turnaround skills. But what exactly does that mean? This week, New York magazine submits its answer. The magazine credits Romney’s former firm, Bain Capital, with helping to reshape the way American businesses look at corporate governance and productivity. It also credits Bain for helping to usher in an era of soaring executive compensation and widening income inequality -- with helping to create, in essence, the one-percent economy.

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The national punditocracy continues to salivate over a presumed Elizabeth Warren-Scott Brown match-up.

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The sequence was almost as predictable as a September swoon for the Red Sox (how helpful to be able to dust that line off and get it back in circulation!).  A candidate gets elected to office pledging to bring a new day of integrity and good government to office.  Months into office that balloon gets popped by a news story reporting on all the campaign donations the official is raking in from special interests his office oversees. A finger-wagging editorial then follows, decrying the unseemliness of the fundraising haul.

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What if they held an election and nobody came? It darn near happened in Brockton this week when only 4.7 percent of voters turned out for the city’s preliminary election. Continue Reading
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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.

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Harvard professor and former presidential advisor Elizabeth Warren will announce Wednesday she is officially in the race to unseat US Sen. Scott Brown. Aides say she will greet commuters in Boston in the morning before travelling to New Bedford, Framingham, Worcester, and Springfield.

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Two stories tucked inside the metro section of The Boston Globe this morning help explain why US Sen. Scott Brown is going to be hard to beat.

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Jimmy Carter had brother Billy. Barack Obama has Uncle Omar. Carter’s headline-grabbing younger brother produced countless headaches for the White House as his elder brother fought for reelection in 1980. President Obama finds his family squarely in the middle of the debate over illegal immigration again just as the 2012 election campaign heats up.

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The weeks leading up to Labor Day are slow ones on the presidential campaign trail. Real news is scarce, with candidates spending most of their time cozying up to well-heeled donors in places like Martha’s Vineyard. (The exception, of course, is Rick Perry, who doesn’t even know where the Vineyard is.)

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Stuck inside this weekend? Here’s some reading to get you through the hurricane and up to speed on Massachusetts policy and politics.

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CrazyKhazei has been outed and he’s none other than Eric Fehrnstrom, one of the architects of Sen. Scott Brown’s stunning victory last year and a key adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

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As part of her exploratory moves towards announcing a Senate bid, Elizabeth Warren has been avoiding the press. Her statewide listening tour among potential supporters has been reported only by the individuals who were invited. Accounts can be read on CW as well as BlueMassGroup.

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Numbers are tricky monsters, especially in politics, where the only truth is that everything is up for debate. So it is that Texas Gov. Rick Perry can run for president as the biggest, baddest job-creator in the country, even though he really isn’t.

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T-Paw is gone and Rick Perry is the man.  Oh yeah, and the lady from Minnesota is popular with party die-hards in Iowa, but don’t take her too seriously. The first of these is fact; the next two are all conjecture, but that’s what political reporters seem to live for these days.

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Elizabeth Warren whipped the Massachusetts political world into a frenzy yesterday with a post on Blue Mass Group. She didn’t announce her candidacy for the US Senate, but her “Coming Home” note came about as close as you can get. It outlined her personal background, her views on the struggling middle class, and her low opinion of Washington politics. Continue Reading
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Mitt Romney wasn’t on vacation yesterday, and he wasn’t shaking secretive rich folks for huge piles of cash. Instead, he was sweating it out in New Hampshire, a full month before he was supposed to have been awkwardly mingling with common folk and spitting talking points at reporters in earnest and, you know, campaigning for president like he means it.

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The indictment of former South Boston state representative  Brian Wallace on campaign finance charges leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

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Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Scott Brown and Martha Coakley squaring off for the Senate seat once held by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

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The school reform wars have taken a dramatic turn in New York City, where 2,500 parents and students – overwhelming black and Hispanic – rallied last week to protest the NAACP’s involvement in a lawsuit against the city’s effort to close 22 low-performing schools and allow charter schools to occupy surplus space in city public school buildings.

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He went by Chris Gerhart, Christopher Chichester, Christopher Crowe, CCC Mountbatten, and ultimately Clark Rockefeller, but his real name was Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, one of the strangest and most successful con men in the annals of history.

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Last year, Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua spent more money on printer toner ($1,545) than he spent on political catering ($1,525). In fact, according to reports on file with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, Lantigua only paid for two fundraisers all of last year -- a year in which he hauled in $38,615 in donations. If those numbers appear to strain credulity, it’s because they do: According to a Sunday Globe report, Lantigua’s campaign finance disclosures are littered with “yawning gaps in his records and potentially serious violations of campaign finance law by both the candidate and his contributors.” Continue Reading
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In his column yesterday, the Herald’s Howie Carr skewered US Rep. Barney Frank for recommending his then-partner Herb Moses for a job 20 years ago at Fannie Mae, a housing agency his legislative committee oversees. Carr ended the column by asking: “When do you think El Globo will report this story?”

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Instead of coming to grips with the changing face of America, the Republican Party appears to be dead set on alienating every minority group in the country. Mother Jones writer Tim Murphy examines how the Republican Party has managed to put off Muslim Americans, who flocked to the GOP in 2000.

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On the same day Tim Pawlenty made his presidential candidacy official, Mitch Daniels said he was out of the race. Daniels was polling right next to Pawlenty – low-single digits nationally, and in New Hampshire. Daniels’s retreat engendered much wailing and gnashing of teeth, while Pawlenty’s official announcement was greeted by a collective shrug. As they gazed at the door, waiting for Chris Christie to waltz in, the wailing, teeth-gnashing Republican Party faithful gave themselves a halfhearted pep talk. That reaction, as much as anything else, should sum up the prospects of the closest thing Mitt Romney has to a serious challenger from within the traditional (i.e. non-Palin) wing of the GOP.

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Despite a national publicity tour and appearances on all the major television shows, Gov. Deval Patrick’s memoir “A Reason to Believe” is selling like cold hotcakes, according to Nielsen Bookscan, with just under 4,300 copies sold so far.

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The most popular governor in the North is from the South.  

There was lots of carping in 2009 when Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor only got a measly $112 million in high-speed rail funds. But Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s decision to send back more than $2 billion originally destined for an Orlando-Tampa link was a game-changer. He opened the way for the Obama administration to kiss and make up with Northeast intercity rail supporters.

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When the needle moves on Beacon Hill, it tends to move quickly. Last Tuesday, one member of the Governor’s Council was warning his colleagues that if they didn’t stop attracting so much attention, they’d all be swept right out of the State House. A day later, Senate President Therese Murray lined up against the body’s continued existence, bringing the council’s abolition from inside joke to serious policy in no time. And tomorrow, Murray will gavel in a constitutional convention with not one, but four separate proposals for eliminating the Governor’s Council on the convention agenda.

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“We don’t need to spike the football,” President Obama said in his decision to not release photographs of Osama bin Laden’s dead body. “That’s not who we are.”

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The death of Osama bin Laden changed little for Boston’s Logan International Airport, the launch point for the September 11 attacks almost ten years ago. Gov. Deval Patrick advised “an excess of caution,” and Boston police and transit officials stepped up security measures at the airport, the metro transportation network, and large sports and entertainment venues. Continue Reading
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It’s now the second day of Osama bin Laden stories, which means the narrative has turned to stories detailing how the daring weekend raid came together, and to stories speculating about what the raid means for the political fortunes of the commander in chief who ordered it. Continue Reading
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For years, New Hampshire has been like an oasis in the desert to antitax forces.  The “Live Free or Die” state has no income or sales taxes, and yet it seems to survive and at times even thrive. In a new report, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s New England Public Policy Center asks: “How does New Hampshire do it?”

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As much of America is fixated on a wedding in the royal family -- except, believe it or not, viewers of Fox 25 -- that harkens back to the time when we were colonists, yet another vestige of long ago is making its voice heard in our own backyard.

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Jury selection begins today in the corruption trial of former House Speaker Sal DiMasi, and the former king of Beacon Hill is already looking and talking like a beaten man. Continue Reading
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It’s never too early to speculate. Has conservatism run its course? Is the middle the new “silent majority?” Will the left start gaining some traction? And who will take over in 2012?

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Up until now, the nascent movement to draft Elizabeth Warren to challenge Sen. Scott Brown has had one glaring deficiency – a willing participant.

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Two years ago, when House Speaker Robert DeLeo made his first address to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, he distanced himself from his embattled predecessor and burnished his reputation as a hard-working guy from Winthrop. Last year, it was all casinos, all the time.

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“No matter how cynical you get, it’s impossible to keep up,” Lily Tomlin famously said.  That’s especially so if your news consumption consists of a steady diet of Boston Herald coverage.  Boston’s tabloid daily can stir outrage and deliver a welcome populist punch with the best of them. But nuance and perspective have never been the strong suit on Wingo Way.

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Union matters seem to dominate the 24-hour news cycle these days. From Wisconsin’s governor looking to eviscerate his state’s public sector unions; to Ohio being on the verge of doing the same thing; to conservative New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie unexpectedly holding out an olive branch to his unionized workers; to Gov. Deval Patrick showing his love for collective bargaining here, it’s all anybody’s talking about.

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What makes Newton Mayor Setti Warren think he can beat US Sen. Scott Brown? Evidently, the same supreme confidence that made Brown think he could take on Martha Coakley. Ever since Coakley’s disastrous fall to earth last year, Democrats have been wondering which politico would have the chutzpah to try a run against Brown.

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Gov. Deval Patrick spent the weekend in Washington, DC, raising his national profile, raising cash, and getting some practice in the role of campaign surrogate for President Obama. The trip allowed him to plant an unwanted kiss on the mug of one Willard Mitt Romney, but it also caused a stir back home when the governor took it upon himself to formally announce challengers to Sen. Scott Brown. Continue Reading
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Just how broken is the budget process in Washington, where President Obama today releases his proposed 2012 spending plan? The White House budget director has pretty much conceded that the proposal avoids tackling the deficit with the full degree of seriousness needed because such a move would simply open up Obama to withering partisan attack.

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All sorts of factors contribute to the relative performance of students in different school districts. Household income and parent education levels often stand out as the most obvious: Students in wealthier communities with highly educated parents invariably score higher on achievement tests than those from lower-income communities with low adult educational attainment levels.

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It’s a decennial dance that makes sausage-making look like an art form. Congressional redistricting, mandated every 10 years by the federal census, is once again playing out in all corners of the country. Massachusetts legislators, who have the added chore of fashioning nine districts out of 10 because of population growth in other areas of the country, are hoping their game of inside baseball won’t draw the ire of voters. Continue Reading
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Cape Wind dominates the debate on wind energy, but the push for onshore wind is a study in contrasts.

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We’ve all heard the green energy debate. Critics say projects like Cape Wind are too costly, even with heavy subsidies. But the greenies counter that the projects are needed to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. They also claim that green energy subsidies are miniscule compared to the subsidies flowing to fossil fuels.

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Glamour hasn’t gone out of style during the Great Recession. It’s just gone quiet as Jaguar dealers and wealth management gurus see their customers making more prudent purchases. But business owners serving a less privileged clientele have different stories to tell.

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Here is a run-down of endorsements from newspapers around the state in the races for governor, treasurer, and state auditor, the open 10th Congressional District seat, and on the three ballot questions. Continue Reading
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By Michael Jonas

Last week, my colleague Bruce Mohl wrote about the ins and outs of the candidate endorsement process at Boston’s two daily papers.  The Boston Herald, which leans reliably right, followed the script last Wednesday and weighed in by endorsing Republican Charlie Baker.  That the left-leaning Boston Globe will, in the coming days, endorse Democrat Deval Patrick is simply not in doubt.

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By Paul McMorrow

The last time Charlie Baker trumpeted the endorsement of a celebrated defector, it didn’t go so well.  After picking off Tim Cahill’s erstwhile running mate, Paul Loscocco, the Republican gubernatorial candidate staged a show of force at his South Boston campaign headquarters. Baker’s handlers thought they were finally close to ridding themselves of Cahill; instead, their candidate was widely panned for rolling around in the muck of closed-door politics. Continue Reading
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By Michael Jonas

We have officially entered the silly season in campaign coverage, at least over on Wingo Way.

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By Michael Jonas

What's in a name? Plenty when it comes to Boston neighborhoods and local politics.

Matt O'Malley, an earnest 30-year-old activist, was the first one out of the gate when Boston City Councilor John Tobin announced last week that he is resigning his district seat to take a top job at Northeastern University.

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By Bruce Mohl

The Wall Street Journal reports that a number of Massachusetts officials, including state Treasurer Timothy Cahill, received campaign contributions from out-of-state law firms in connection with their push for pension fund litigation.

The front-page report says Cahill received $10,000 in $500 donations in 2005 from people associated with Labaton Sucharow LLP, a New York plaintiffs’ law firm. At the time, the firm was vying to become one of several securities litigator for the $40 billion state pension fund, which Cahill chairs. Continue Reading
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