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"Does #MAGOV14 have heart?" Maurice Cunningham, asks at WGBH's MassPoliticalProfs. Cunningham, a political science professor at UMass Boston, notes that Baker continues to defend himself against charges of being compassion-challenged.

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The state Republican Party has a data file on Massachusetts voters. It has a map showing that densely populated areas hold lots of people. What remains to be seen is whether Republicans are able to make either matter in a tightly-fought race for governor.

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Like them or loathe them, the independent candidates for governor -- Evan Falchuk, Jeff McCormick, and Scott Lively -- have interjected some spice into the 2014 race.

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Charlie Baker enjoys an enormous cash cushion over his gubernatorial rival Martha Coakley right now. He's been, far and away, the biggest beneficiary of outside super PAC spending in the race for governor. And now, the rich are getting richer: Michael Bloomberg is moving his super PAC behind Baker's campaign.

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Eight years ago Republican gubernatorial candidate Kerry Healey was gaining in the polls on Deval Patrick by attacking his record on crime, particularly his advocacy on behalf of a convicted rapist named Benjamin LaGuer. Then Healey ran a TV ad that seemed to change everything.

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Attorney General Martha Coakley has been taking a pounding over her antitrust agreement with Partners HealthCare, but on Thursday she fired back with an amended deal and a carefully timed point-by-point response to her critics.

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"Okay this is going to be the last one, sweetheart." With that off-the-cuff - and brain-cramp - comment, GOP standard-bearer Charlie Baker has created himself the kind of swirling gender maelstrom he neither wanted nor needed.

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Yes, there is that small matter of a primary election tomorrow, where Democrats and Republicans will choose a nominee to charge ahead to the November general election. But with little change in the dynamics of either primary race over the course of many months, there has been an eagerness to get on with the story.

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The televised debates on Wednesday and Thursday featuring the Democrats running for governor provided a pretty good sense of the style and substance of the three candidates, but two exchanges stand out.

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Money is getting tight in the race for governor.

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The notion of authorizing a Springfield casino, even if voters pass a ballot question repealing the state's gaming law in November, is picking up steam.

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For a clear frontrunner, Martha Coakley is hard to get excited about.

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Deval Patrick, the nation’s only African American governor, made a predictable trip down legacy lane during the National Association of Black Journalists’ recent convention in Boston.

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Republicans knew early in 2012 that they were staring at demographic obsolescence, and that the only way to stave off a prolonged trip to the electoral wilderness was to broaden their base, and adopt a more liberal stance on immigration. Instead, the party tacked to the right, and handed President Obama a second term in the White House. The cause and effect were obvious long before Election Day, and the GOP deliberately chose a losing path -- both for the short and the long term. Two years later, Republicans face a strikingly similar choice. They’re doing everything they can, nationally, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And in Massachusetts, there’s a clear undercurrent pushing the GOP’s brightest political hope, Charlie Baker, to follow suit.

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Cue the dark-money attack ad sliming the candidate in the lead.

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Gov. Deval Patrick's bid to shelter immigrant children in Massachusetts is creating some interesting plot lines in the race to succeed him. The Democratic candidates for governor -- Attorney General Martha Coakley, Treasurer Steve Grossman, and Don Berwick -- all support Patrick's plan. So does Republican Charlie Baker. But independent Jeff McCormick has come out against the plan, a move that could sap support from Baker.

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After the Senate voted Wednesday to keep the state’s cap on charter schools in place, the head of one of the state’s teachers unions told the State House News Service, “I'm doing super-well right now.” But the unions aren’t the only ones feeling super good after Wednesday’s charter vote. Charlie Baker, the Republican candidate for governor, also has to be feeling pretty good right now. The state Senate just handed him a stick to take to Democrats in cities across Massachusetts.

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The Massachusetts Republican Party is on the verge of throwing its financial weight behind Charlie Baker's gubernatorial effort, even as Baker fends off a primary challenge from Mark Fisher. The move is the latest in a line of slaps and slights directed at Fisher, a tea party longshot who has been embroiled in a legal dispute with the state GOP for months. The impact of the move on November's gubernatorial election is less certain, as the center of gravity in campaign finance is shifting away from candidates and their political parties, and toward unfettered spending by super PACs.

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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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Massachusetts has a large, and growing, block of independent voters. They call out like a siren to ambitious outsider politicians, ambitious individuals who set out to vanquish partisan politics. These efforts have always ended with the outsider feeling lighter in the pockets, and the state’s two-party system still fully in place.

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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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Charlie Baker took some heat from Democrats for announcing his run for governor in a video, but the strategy appears to have worked perfectly. The good-guy image Baker cultivated in the video carried over into the press event he hosted at his Swampscott home on Thursday, allowing him to get out his I’ll-be-different-in-this-election message far more effectively than if he had just given a speech and barnstormed around the state.

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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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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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Gov. Deval Patrick may be a lame duck, but he has plenty of political fight left in him this budget season. The annual spectacle of dysfunction over local aid funding is even more complicated this year: The governor has decided to strong arm Beacon Hill lawmakers over a long-term transportation revenue package by forcing municipal leaders to beg and plead for their local aid funds.

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Inertia consumes the bulk of Massachusetts’s political power structure. Democrats dominate the Legislature, which is one of the country’s least competitive. The party doesn’t have to sweat to stuff pols into virtual lifetime jobs in constitutional offices that normally open up only upon retirement, or a shot at the corner office. But for all the stasis that dominates most of state politics, Bay State voters have a serious thing for governors that come out of nowhere. Just ask Deval Patrick, or Mitt Romney, or Bill Weld.

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In July 2011, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz charged Aaron Swartz with wire fraud, computer fraud, and a host of other charges for allegedly stealing more than 4 million documents from an MIT network. In the press release announcing the indictment, the US Secret Service and the Cambridge Police Department voiced their support and Ortiz added: “Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data, or dollars. It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away.”

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When President Obama unveiled his gun reform package yesterday, one month after the Newtown massacre, there was a commonly used phrase that wasn’t uttered by him or Vice President Joe Biden. Same with Gov. Deval Patrick, who also unveiled his measures yesterday.

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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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When scandal nears his office, Gov. Deval Patrick has learned to take decisive action. Continue Reading
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Gov. Deval Patrick keeps saying that he wants to finish out his term as governor, and then return to the private sector. Continue Reading
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If the end of the General Court’s 187th session precipitated a chaotic though predictable scramble to move the session’s most consequential bills, it was an even more challenging time for Gov. Deval Patrick.

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With Gov. Deval Patrick gone AWOL more and more, Lt. Gov. Tim Murray has been tapped to lead the fight to forestall cutbacks at Bay State military facilities. So far, the Pentagon is winning.

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Until yesterday, it looked as if Lt. Gov. Tim Murray had been through a very rough patch of misfortune, with two separate big hits to his political standing: a series of Boston Globe stories detailing his deep ties to the disgraced former Chelsea housing authority director, Michael McLaughlin, who was pulling in an astronomical $360,000 a year salary, and a mysterious late-night car crash that Murray has had a hard time explaining. Now it seems that Murray may have been out on the road in the wee hours of Nov. 2, when he careened into a rock ledge along Interstate 190, because of worries that his political career was being imperiled by the McLaughlin scandal.

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The Patrick administration’s transportation strategy seems to be working. First came the tease, then the hammer, and now the talk -- by others -- of new taxes or tolls is beginning in earnest.

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Even Scott Harshbarger, the Bay State’s most irascible casino critic, could find little to quibble with in Gov. Deval Patrick’sinspired” selection of Stephen Crosby as the state’s first gaming commission chairman.

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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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Here’s a question for everybody out there who wants to be governor, as well as the people who are in the business of charging this first group of people several thousand dollars per month in consulting fees: If Massachusetts voters have a clear pattern of choosing political outsiders over ladder-climbing, machine-building pols, where’s the upside in playing crude politics?

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State Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Mullan is leaving his job later this year because Gov. Deval Patrick refused to give him a raise.

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Gov. Deval Patrick waded back into the immigration quagmire again yesterday, saying Massachusetts won’t join a program sharing the fingerprints of arrested individuals with federal immigration agencies. Patrick said he’d initially signaled his intention to join the program because the feds had told him the program was mandatory, “not because I thought it was good policy.” Upon being told it wasn’t, he pulled out, joining the governors of Illinois and New York.

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As the Boston Herald hits the midway point in its tour through Gov. Deval Patrick’s wobbly early years in office, the governor is showing he’s now a far different politician than he was at the start of his first term.

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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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Deval Patrick’s top political strategists are making the case that the governor’s reelection victory last year offers a road map that other Democrats and even President Obama can follow in 2012.

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It couldn’t be termed a constitutional crisis but the decision by the new Republican-controlled House to read the Constitution into the Congressional Record was as much hysterical as historical. Continue Reading
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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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By Gabrielle Gurley

With all eyes on the big dogs in the governor’s race, the underdog can afford to go out on a limb.

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