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The Download: Patrick as political analyst

Posted in: Current Affairs   Gubernatorial politics   Elections   Health care
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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.

Romney was first. Patrick went on national television and told America he thought Romney (who raised $4.7 million last year, and who is scrambling to stake out the perfect rightward ground from which to attack Obama) did just a splendid, splendid job designing Massachusetts’s universal health care law. It’s an issue Romney has been trying to duck for some time now. Told later that Romney didn’t actually put pen to paper and write the law himself, Patrick shrugged and offered, “Well, he took a lot of credit for it at the time.” Obama couldn’t have asked for a better performance. Patrick was cheery and open and insistent that Romney had done right by him, all of which just happen to be poison to the Republican primary voters Romney needs to court.

The governor then raised all sorts of eyebrows by doffing his jacket, sitting down with old friend Jim O’Sullivan of the National Journal (late of the State House News Service) and laying out the field of likely challengers to Scott Brown – including several candidates that have not yet announced their own campaigns yet. The list includes Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, first-year Newton Mayor Setti Warren, 2009 Senate candidate Alan Khazei, financial services executive Robert Pozen, and 1994 lieutenant governor nominee Bob Massie.

That’s a funny list, since only Massie has declared his candidacy.

“Kim is not in; she has not made up her mind, but I know she’s thinking about it seriously. But Alan and Bob and Setti are in, for sure,” Patrick told O’Sullivan, adding that he and Pozen have been playing phone tag as of late.

Immediately after Patrick’s words hit the wires, Warren issued a statement acknowledging for the firs time that is looking at the Senate race. The former John Kerry aide had previously sought to downplay his ambitions, although he has been joining his old boss on a statewide barnstorming tour that dates back to Patrick’s gubernatorial race.

Patrick’s disclosure raised eyebrows, since it’s rather impolitic to announce somebody’s candidacy for them. A round of questions followed: Was Patrick trying to push candidates in or out of the race? Was he just speaking out of turn? Where was Michael Capuano’s bloody name on that list?

Patrick said Driscoll told him exactly what she has told anybody else who has asked her about her plans – she’s looking at a Senate run long and hard, but hasn’t made up her mind yet. Given that, it’s entirely likely it’s entirely plausible that Warren and Khazei have told the governor they’re in, but haven’t formally announced yet. And now they won’t have to.

                                                                                                                                                                                        --PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL

Gov. Deval Patrick wants to reorganize state offices that handle services for children, the Globe reports.

The Springfield Republican weighs in on Gov. Patrick's revamping of the state's emergency shelter assistance plan designed to aid homeless families.

MetroWest Daily News opinion editor Rick Holmes explores why Patrick is doing better than Wisconsin's Scott Walker when it comes to relations with labor unions

On “Greater Boston,” Republican Charley Manning and Democrat Doug Rubin – the ying and yang of Massachusetts politics – debate the message and reasoning behind Patrick’s extended road trip.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr is open to the idea of narrowing collective bargaining.

Rep. Frank Smizik pushes medical marijuana.

Rep. Michael Moran, the House’s point man on redistricting, says the 8th Congressional District, currently held by Michael Capuano, won’t have its minority voter representation diluted below 40 percent. It’s currently at 49.5 percent.

WISCONSIN

Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is expected to deliver a budget address that will feature steep cuts in local aid and funding for schools, WBUR reports.

According to a new poll, Wisconsin voters say if they had an election do-over they would have voted for Democratic candidate Tom Barrett, and not Walker. A Democratic pollster tells The Atlantic 34 percent of Wisconsin voters would back a Walker recall – more than the 25 percent threshold needed to force Walker to run for his job again.

Walker issues an ultimatum to runaway state Senate Democrats: Come back within 24 hours, or else….

EDUCATION

The US Department of Education is looking into allegations by two local advocacy groups that Boston's planned school closures discriminate against black and Latino families, the Globe reports.

Sixteen of 17 applications for new charter schools endorsed by the state education commissioner were approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Schools will be located in Boston, New Bedford, Lawrence, Chelsea, Salem, and Springfield, WBUR reports. The Salem News focuses on the charter proposed in its community, which will target high school dropouts, while the Eagle-Tribune has a story about the two new schools in its community. The Worcester Telegram, meanwhile, reports a charter is put on probation.

The food service program in the Lowell schools goes from a $775,000 deficit two years ago to a $415,000 surplus this year. The dramatic shift is attributed to the hiring of Aramark Corp., the Lowell Sun reports.

HEALTH

In a big coup for Scott BrownPresident Obama said yesterday he's willing to embrace a compromise co-sponsored by the state's junior senator that would let states opt out of the federal health care law sooner than originally stipulated if they demonstrate that they have a plan to provide coverage of similar breadth.

A Wall Street Journal op-ed column slams Gov. Patrick, and Massachusetts’s health care reform law, and socialism.

Chris Nowinski, co-director of a center at the BU School of Medicine, will study the brain of Dave Duerson, a former safety for the Chicago Bears. Duerson directed that his brain be donated to science before killing himself. Nowinski joins Jim Braude on Broadside.

Paul Levy says the new health care law could trigger many companies reexamining their retiree benefits and push those former workers into the government-created exchanges to fix costs and save money.

LOCAL POLITICS

Getting a running start: New Bedford resident Walter Moniz, who came in third last year in a five-person Democratic primary for Governor’s Council, announced he’s back in the game for the September, 2012 primary for the seat.

Margery Eagan welcomes the return of silly season at the Cambridge City Council.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The city of Lynn is suing the Lynn Police Association, alleging the union is illegally attempting to negotiate changes in the city’s residency requirement, the Item reports.

Officials in several communities on the South Coast are trying to shut downsweepstakes cafes” that have opened in their areas. The officials say the cafes are illegal slot parlors where customers buy computer time then play Internet games for cash prizes.

Dogs gone: Wellfleet bans dogs and other domesticated animals from five beaches and landings. However, no town employees are stepping up for the job of writing the tickets.

Brewster schools are looking for an override. Provincetown wants one for a school, too, but that move is to secure funds to turn an elementary school building into town offices.

ELECTION 2012

Democrats are organizing independent, non-party campaign committees to funnel massive amounts of money into the 2012 White House and Senate contests. At least one of the groups would be structured to operate outside public disclosure rules, the Atlantic says. Meanwhile, former Bush advisors Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie want to raise $120 million for their proposed 527 and non-disclosing nonprofit groups, which would target the Obama White House.

You don't say: The Republican assault on public sector labor unions probably assures that that union members will not only get out and vote in future presidential contents, they'll vote Democratic. The New York Times via Political Wire.

The Weekly Standard surveys the 2012 GOP presidential field and concludes, like Washington (George, not the city), only US Rep. Paul Ryan and New Jersey Gov. Christ Christie can unite the country.

What do Sen. Rand Paul and Thomas Jefferson-baiting sitcom actor Charlie Sheen have in common? A fondness for media mogul and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Charles Koch, an energy magnate who has bankrolled Tea Party groups and helped push Gov. Walker’s union showdown in Wisconsin, explains what’s in it for him.

WASHINGTON

A new Government Accountability Office report spotlights billions of dollars’ worth of duplicative oversight on the part of federal agencies.

PENSIONS

States experimenting with 401(k)-style retirement plans are encountering some unforeseen costs.

NONPROFITS

Ralph Nader opines in the Chronicle of Philanthropy that President Obama should leave the for-profit cheerleading to the Commerce Secretary, and use his considerable communication skills to pump up the nonprofit sector.

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT

Cape Wind opponents argue that a two-week comment period is not enough to properly study the project's recently released building and operation plan.

Some of the land and groundwater at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Base, which is being transformed into a mixed-use development, is still too contaminated for safe living and drinking, according to a study paid for by a citizens’ advisory group.

RELIGiON

Harvard professor and minister Peter Gomes, one of the nation's most eloquent theologians and a leading voice for tolerance and against religious fundamentalism, died yesterday at 68.

TWEETGATE

It seems Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, is blocking some journalists from his pronouncements on Twitter.

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