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Thoughts and murmurs in the run-up to primary day

How to improve the Governor’s Council, a reason for independents to vote in the Republican gubernatorial primary, and other primary reflections.

A voter filled out his ballot at the early voting location at North Quincy High School in Quincy on Aug. 27.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Even legendary political rascal James Michael Curley looked down his roguish nose at the Governor’s Council, dismissing it as “a hock shop.” During his first term in the corner office, Mike Dukakis advocated its abolition.

If you’ve spent much time in the Massachusetts State House, you’re probably aware of what a clown show the body is. But though much of its power was stripped as a result of scandals in the 1950s and ’60s, the council still has the authority to approve or reject gubernatorial nominations to the bench.

Here’s a way to improve the council. On Tuesday, voters in District 3 — the sprawling political region that runs from some precincts in Boston through Brookline, Wellesley, and Newton, then out to Concord and all the way to Ayer and Hudson — could do the entire state a favor by casting their primary ballots for Mara Dolan over incumbent Marilyn Petitto Devaney.

Dolan, erstwhile spokeswoman for former Senate president Stanley Rosenberg, is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts School of Law and a smart, public-spirited attorney who has worked as a public defender. As such, she’d bring a much-needed perspective to a panel that over time has too often served as sleepy sinecure for political hangers-on.


If Devaney were an elementary school student — and over her long years on the council, it’s often been hard to tell the difference — her school report would say, in bold capital letters: “Does not play well with others.” It might additionally note: “Also, once charged with felony assault and battery after she allegedly threw a bag containing a curling iron at a store clerk in a the-rules-don’t-apply-to-me incident.”

At first, Devaney insisted it was all a lie and that she was fighting an uphill battle “trying to win back my good name.”


The assault charge was eventually dropped, but only after Devaney wrote a letter apologizing for her temper tantrum and agreeing to nine months of unsupervised probation.

District 3 voters, please vote for Dolan. I can say this with confidence: She’ll never have to agree to probation, unsupervised or otherwise, in order to have an assault charges dropped.

The surprise endorsement that saw Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, former acting mayor Kim Janey, and Senator Elizabeth Warren endorse wealthy self-funded class-action attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan over former Boston city councilor Andrea Campbell, the first Black woman with a realistic chance of winning statewide office, has set heads spinning locally.

People with feet in both camps tell me that Wu, in explaining her decision, has mentioned concerns about Campbell’s positions on education. Because she has released the questionnaire she filled out in pursuit of the Massachusetts Teachers Association endorsement, we know Campbell didn’t sign on with the teachers union’s fight against charter schools. Liss-Riordan declined to release her questionnaires, but her campaign tells me she agrees with the MTA position on charters.

There’s also an undercurrent that labor pressed Warren to endorse Liss-Riordan, who along with her husband have been substantial donors to Warren. I asked her that when she met with the editorial board on Tuesday. Warren’s reply: As far as she could recall, just one labor leader, by text.


Although Warren denied she’d heard any of it, several reliable sources say some members of her inner circle were shocked and disappointed by her endorsement, the more because everyone had expected her to stay neutral.

When Secretary of State Bill Galvin sat down — well, zoomed in — for his endorsement interview with The Boston Globe editorial board, he said that if he wins (yet) again, this will be his last term, no ifs, ands, or buts.

But in the diverting piece the Globe’s Mark Shanahan wrote about Galvin, the message seemed a little different.

“I will have served a very long time,” he said. “So, quite likely, I will not run again.”

Quite likely? So is Galvin keeping the door a little open? “I am certainly done here, with this job,” Galvin told me. “Whether I’ll ever run for anything again remains to be seen.”

Finally, if you are an independent tempted to take a Republican primary ballot to vote for Chris Doughty for GOP nominee for governor but wonder if it’s worth the effort, the answer is yes. Word from the Republican world is that that race is tighter than it appears — and that Doughty, the non-election-denialist, is closing in on Trump sycophant Geoff Diehl.

Scot Lehigh is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at scot.lehigh@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeScotLehigh.