• Wed. Nov 29th, 2023

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State of transition – POLITICO

WANTED: TRANSITION TEAM MEMBERS — Let the jockeying for Healey administration jobs begin in earnest.

Maura Healey and Kim Driscoll are officially accepting applications for their transition team — a group that will be dissected for clues as to who wants what job in the eventual Healey-Driscoll administration.

The rumor mill is already churning with possible prospects, from those involved with her campaign’s informal issue groups to state lawmakers who’ve either worked for Healey in the past or who might be hoping for a bigger gig. State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, a Healey campaign and attorney general office alum, has been floated in connection with a climate-related job. State Sen. Cindy Friedman’s name comes up in connection with Health and Human Services.

But the only official clues we got yesterday were a transition website and the announcement that Driscoll, the lieutenant governor-elect who already has a working relationship with the Baker administration as mayor of Salem, would lead the effort.

By immediately putting Driscoll in such a prominent role, Healey signaled that her No. 2 will be an integral part of her governing team. And she indicated that their administration, like the one they’re succeeding, will value municipal partnership. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito built a rapport with municipal leaders by visiting all 351 of the state’s cities and towns. Driscoll, who is already regarded as a leader among mayors, now appears poised to continue that effort.

Plus they’ll have the Baker administration to lean on. Gov. Charlie Baker said his team has already spent “several months” planning for a “seamless” transition. He’s invited Healey and Driscoll to the administration’s annual winter weather briefing, offered them transition space at the State House and access to his Cabinet secretaries and leadership teams.

GOOD THURSDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. Republicans entered Election Day with effectively two slates of candidates — one backed by the moderate Baker, the other by conservative MassGOP Chair Jim Lyons.

Both came away with heavy losses. Every Republican running statewide or for Congress lost, regardless of the camp behind them. Democrats grew their supermajority in the state House, while Republicans failed to make gains in the Senate and lost several key law enforcement races. The MassGOP-backed effort to repeal the law granting undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses failed.

Some party insiders hope the drubbing will be a wakeup call for new leadership come January. Lyons hasn’t said publicly whether he’s running again, and he couldn’t be reached last night. But he sent emails yesterday threatening to subpoena state committee members in a legal battle over access to the state party’s bank accounts and trying to remove another member he claims no longer lives in her district, according to copies shared with Playbook.

The race to replace Lyons has already begun: State Committee Vice Chair Jay Fleitman, a former congressional candidate, announced his run for chair Wednesday morning in an email lamenting how the party got “swamped.”

“We’re in need of a serious rebuilding,” Fleitman told Playbook. “We’ve been expending most of our energy fighting each other rather than doing what we need to do to be successful.”

State Committeewoman Amy Carnevale is also fielding calls about running for chair and told Playbook she’s considering it.

Yet Tuesday’s losses also show the limits of Baker’s appeal. Several of the popular governor’s picks — GOP auditor nominee Anthony Amore, state Rep. Shawn Dooley, Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson — all lost. Thirteen of the 38 candidates the Baker-aligned Massachusetts Majority PAC put money behind in the general election fell short. Baker didn’t have much to say about the GOP’s shellacking, beyond “elections are about the people on the tickets.”

TODAY — Baker, Polito, Healey, Driscoll, Treasurer Deb Goldberg and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu attend the Greater Boston Food Bank’s Chain of Giving Event at 10 a.m. Wu and Pedro Martinez visit East Boston High School at 1 p.m. Rep. Jake Auchincloss hosts a climate summit featuring former Rep. Joe Kennedy III, former EEA Secretary Katie Theoharides, former state Sen. Ben Downing and state Rep. Jeff Roy at 8:30 a.m. at Olin College in Needham.

Tips? Scoops? Email me: [email protected].

“This diverse class of state executives were the stars of the midterms,” by Marissa Martinez, Lisa Kashinsky and Brakkton Booker, POLITICO: “The first woman and first openly gay person elected governor. The first Black woman elected attorney general. The first all-female governor and lieutenant governor team. And those are just the firsts for Massachusetts. Glass ceilings shattered across the country this week as voters from New England to the South propelled women and people of color to prominent positions in state government for the first time.”

“In a nation bitterly divided, the transfer of power from Baker to Healey in Massachusetts gets off to a warm start,” by Emma Platoff, Boston Globe: “As Washington readied for another season of bitter partisan division, bipartisan comity reigned at an afternoon meeting at the State House. Outgoing Republican Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito were friendly, if stilted, as they congratulated their Democratic successors, Attorney General Maura Healey and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, and promised to do all they could to ensure a smooth transition. Polito told the sweet story of an interaction years ago between her young daughter and Healey, telling the governor-elect how important her victory is for young women. Baker cracked the inevitable joke about Healey and Driscoll both playing college basketball, as did he. Baker and Healey shook hands, and then, after a brief will-they-won’t-they, went in for the hug.”

“What to expect when you’re expecting Maura Healey,” by Adam Reilly, GBH News: “[A]fter campaigning as [Gov. Charlie] Baker’s spiritual heir, will Healey really emulate his fiscally conservative, socially liberal, and determinedly bipartisan approach to governance? Or will she chart her own course instead? It’ll be months, if not years, before we know the answer. Still, as Healey begins her two-month tenure as governor-elect, one thing is already clear: she’s convinced a wide range of people with very different political priorities there’s a good to great chance she’ll be an ally once inaugurated — in itself, a Baker-esque feat.”

One thing that will be different: Healey, who’s a foot shorter than the 6-foot, 6-inch Baker, joked that the “microphones are gonna be a little bit lower” when she’s governor.

“Maura Healey looking to hire the ‘best possible’ MBTA leader,” by Gayla Cawley, Boston Herald: “Governor-elect Maura Healey kept mum on what the search for a new MBTA general manager would entail, a day after winning the corner office. While speculation continues about who will be hired for the $300,000-plus position, Healey would not say whether the appointment would be local, or one made after a nationwide search.”

— DAY ONE, DONE: Healey capped off her first day as governor-elect by going on CNN and doubling down on her pledge to provide more tax relief. Healey said she’s “proposed tax reform, and that will be my first act day one as governor.” She introduced a $600-per-child tax credit during her campaign and has expressed interest in aspects of the tax-relief package Baker proposed to help seniors, renters and low-income earners. But she was noncommittal last week on his plan to slash the short-term capital gains tax rate.

“House to Have More Democrats Than Any Session Since 2009,” by Chris Lisinski, State House News Service (paywall): “With one race still too close to call Wednesday afternoon, Democrats had already claimed victory or been declared winners in 132 of 160 House districts. That’s three more seats than they secured last cycle, and with the Senate maintaining its existing 37-3 breakdown, Democrats are assured of a net legislative pickup of at least three and perhaps four seats as they head toward trifecta control on Beacon Hill. Republicans so far won 26 seats in the House, four fewer than they held at the start of the 2021-2022 term, and Rep. Susannah Whipps of Athol secured reelection to keep one district independent. By Wednesday afternoon, 39 of the 40 Senate races had been called by the Associated Press, and Democrat Rep. Jake Oliveira of Ludlow claimed victory in the only other one.”

“Passage of the Mass. ‘millionaires tax’ amends the state’s flat tax rate,” by Jon Chesto and Dana Gerber, Boston Globe: “In the closest-fought major race in Massachusetts, voters Tuesday ended nearly eight years of debate about taxes on high earners, narrowly approving the ‘millionaires tax’ in a nail-biter that wasn’t resolved until Wednesday afternoon. The ‘yes’ side ended up winning with 52 percent of the vote, a margin of about 90,000 ballots with 93 percent counted. Question 1 will amend the Massachusetts constitution by adding 4 percentage points to the state’s 5-percent income tax, for annual earnings over $1 million, to bring more funds to the budget for transportation and education.”

— Related: “Here’s how the 30 richest communities in Mass. voted on the millionaires tax,” by Will Katcher, MassLive.

“Voters decided to uphold driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. But the margin was close,” by Samantha J. Gross, Boston Globe: “While most Massachusetts Democrats ran away with their races Tuesday night, a ballot question in which voters decided to retain a divisive law allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses was decided by just 7 percentage points. The result, according to some experts, suggests that the Commonwealth is still polarized when it comes to immigration reform and policymaking. According to a Globe analysis, more than 100 cities and towns that voted for Democrat Maura Healey, who trounced her Republican opponent for governor by almost 30 percentage points, voted to repeal the new law.”

“Voters reject Question 3 and opt to keep rules for alcohol sellers the same,” by Lisa Creamer, WBUR: “Voters across Massachusetts rejected Question 3 Tuesday night, a statewide ballot initiative that sought to expand the cap on alcohol licenses individual companies could own, according to The Associated Press. … The measure would have gradually doubled the total number of alcohol licenses a company can hold by 2031. It also would have tightened the cap on how many so-called ‘full’ liquor licenses a business can own.”

“Attleboro’s Heroux says people were ready for change when they elected him sheriff,” by Tom Reilly, The Sun Chronicle: “On a crisp Wednesday morning, Mayor Paul Heroux stood in the leaf-strewn backyard of his red-shingled 18th-century cottage and basked in the glow of victory. The 46-year-old Democrat said in a post-election press conference that his slender win over veteran Republican Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson on Tuesday came down to the fact that the area’s voters recognized ‘it was time for a change.’ And he said he will move to implement the policies in the county’s correctional system that he campaigned on.”

“Governor’s council winner decided after long wait: North Adams Democrat defeats Palmer Republican,” by Jeanette DeForge, Springfield Republican: “After a long wait, Tara Jacobs officially declared victory in the Governor’s Council seat that covers all of Western Massachusetts. Unofficial results gave Jacobs, a Democrat, 150,054 votes while her Republican opponent John Comerford received 91,631 ballots.”

“State Sen. John Velis declares victory in Hampden and Hampshire District race,” by Aprell May Munford, Springfield Republican.

“Tarr wins big in newly redrawn state Senate district,” by Ethan Forman, Gloucester Times.

“Voter turnout strong in mid-term election with some communities with highly-contested races beating statewide averages,” by Jeanette DeForge, Springfield Republican: “Slightly more than half the registered voters in the state cast ballots for Tuesday’s election, which was more than predicted and better than a typical midterm election turnout. More than 2.5 million people or about 51% of the voters cast ballots in the election so far. The official turnout will not be known until Saturday since mailed ballots that are delivered late will continue to be counted until then as long as they are postmarked by the Nov. 8 deadline.”

“Study finds lifting mask mandates led to thousands of new COVID cases in Mass. schools,” by Craig LeMoult, GBH News: “Massachusetts school districts that lifted mask mandates immediately after the state relaxed its requirement in February saw far more COVID-19 cases than districts that retained the policy voluntarily, according to a new study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.”

“Boston to pay $2.1 million in settlement of City Hall Plaza Christian-flag case,” by Adam Gaffin, Universal Hub: “The city of Boston yesterday formally agreed to pay $2.125 million to the lawyers for Hal Shurtleff, the former West Roxbury man who won the right to fly his ‘Christian’ flag over City Hall Plaza for a couple of hours in August.”

“Police ranks in Massachusetts still overwhelmingly male,” by Karen Anderson and Kevin Rothstein, WCVB: “Statewide, recent data shows about 1 in 10 officers are female. … We surveyed 20 departments earlier this year, choosing them to get different size communities in different areas of eastern Massachusetts. In Boston, the largest city in the state, 303 of the 1,811 officers, or 14 percent, were female at the time the data was provided. Statewide, 2,613 of 19,664 sworn officers, or 12 percent, were female, according to data provided by the Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission.”

“Firefighters: Massachusetts canceling civil-service exams following court case,” by Sean Philip Cotter, Boston Herald: “The state has canceled the upcoming fire civil-service promotional exam and ‘will not score’ the recent statewide exam for police in light of a recent Boston-based court case. … The court case in question is Tatum et al v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a suit from several Black or Hispanic police officers filed back in 2009 as they claimed that the civil-service sergeants’ promotional exam disadvantaged minority test takers, leading to lower scores and therefore delayed or missed promotions through the centralized and highly regimented process used by many police and fire departments. A Suffolk Superior judge heard the matter in a bench trial this summer — and ruled on it two weeks ago, when Judge Douglas Wilkins issued a blistering finding against the state Human Resources Division.”

— EYES EMOJI: Newly reelected Granite State Gov. Chris Sununu was asked on CNN last night whether he’s considering a run for president in 2024. “Right now, I’m not,” he said. Yet he followed that up by saying how he enjoys traveling around the country “inspiring” a younger generation to understand the “benefits of good fiscal conservatism” and getting involved in public service.

“Vermont Voters Add Reproductive Liberty Amendment to State Constitution,” by Jack Thurston, NBC10 Boston: “Vermont was one of three states on election night that enshrined access to abortions in their state constitutions. … [A]dvocates predicted the win in Vermont, along with similar measures in Michigan and California, will add energy to a movement in the wake of the conservative-controlled Supreme Court overturning the federal constitutional right to abortion in the U.S.”

TRANSITIONS — Joe Kriesberg has been named president and CEO of MassINC; he joins after nearly 30 years at the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — to MassINC’s Steve Koczela, Shawn Duhamel and Alex Bausch.

NEW HORSE RACE ALERT: MIDTERMS AND CONDITIONS — Want election takes? We’ve got them. Need I say more? Subscribe and listen on iTunes and SoundCloud.

Want to make an impact? POLITICO Massachusetts has a variety of solutions available for partners looking to reach and activate the most influential people in the Bay State. Have a petition you want signed? A cause you’re promoting? Seeking to increase brand awareness among this key audience? Share your message with our influential readers to foster engagement and drive action. Contact Jesse Shapiro to find out how: [email protected].


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