The Massachusetts GOP is on track in its plans to make some significant legislative gains to bolster its anemic presence on Beacon Hill. But one of its star players is not exactly helping.
William F. Weld, the quirky former governor who commands a lot popularity in some sectors of the state party, has endorsed two Democratic legislative candidates, including last week when he threw his support to a state senator, Richard Moore, a veteran Uxbridge legislator who is battling for his political life in the face of a challenge from one of the GOP’s best candidates.
That prompted the conservative GOP wing to demand that gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker drop Weld, his political hero and role model, from his position as a senior campaign adviser. Little chance of that. Weld’s image is all over the candidate’s literature and television ads, and Baker holds him up as a gubernatorial role model. The former GOP governor, who was popular with a large swath of Democratic voters, will be spending a lot of time in the final days campaigning around the state with Baker.
But what really is the surprise? Weld endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 and has donated to a number Democrats, including most recently to Steve Grossman in this year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.
“Blood is thicker than water,” Weld said. “I have been through the wars with Dick Moore back in the ’90s, and when you have been through the wars with somebody, it is good idea not to forget that.”
To placate the right, Baker immediately went out to the southern Worcester County district after the Weld endorsement of Moore, and held a public event endorsing Moore’s challenger, state Representative Ryan C. Fattman of Webster, a conservative anti-immigrant, antitaxes conservative who is seen as a rising star in the GOP.
Weld’s not the only one to raise the stakes in this Senate race. Moore has pulled in his old political pal, Bill Clinton — that’s right, the former leader of the free world — who is making robo-calls on his behalf in southern Worcester County.
Frank PhillipsFRANK PHILLIPS
Unwanted preelection attention
Republican hopes of adding an important Western Massachusetts state Senate seat to their column are riding on the success of GOP candidate Debra Boronski of Longmeadow, who is embroiled in a state investigation into her State House lobbying activities for a local business group.
Secretary of State William Galvin’s lobbying division told Boronski in a letter Wednesday that it “has received evidence regarding alleged violations of the Massachusetts Lobbying Law” for failing to list her campaign contributions as required by law.
The division’s director, Marie D. Marra, told Boronski that its office has opened a “preliminary review” of the matter and had notified Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office of the alleged violations.
Boronski said Wednesday the matter had been resolved, but her paperwork didn’t arrive at the secretary of state’s office until Thursday, and the matter was still under review.
What that will do for Boronski’s chances of winning the open First Hampden and Hampshire seat is not clear. It is late in the campaign. But it does add to some of the issues that have dogged Boronski — like whether she is actually married. Tax documents and news reports said initially she was. She now says she is divorced and lives with her boyfriend. She also was forced to amend some ethics commission filings for failing to mention some of her professional ties.
The Democrats have held the Senate seat since Senate minority leader Brian Lees of East Longmeadow retired, but the race is seen as a tossup. The Democrat, Eric Lesser of Longmeadow, a former Obama White House aide, has run into criticism for raising large amounts of out-of-district money from well-connected Democrats.
Frank PhillipsFRANK PHILLIPS
A challenging resume
The recent Gaming Commission hearing on the future (if any) of the Suffolk Downs horse track unfolded in a nondescript little room in a forgettable state building in downtown Boston, amid a legion of suited lobbyists and blank-faced government bureaucrats. The point of the hearing was to allow representatives of horse owners and trainers to plead their cases for saving the old racetrack, which is closed and not expected to reopen. The commission’s vote last month awarding the Greater Boston casino license to a location in Everett, not Suffolk Downs, pretty much sealed the track’s fate, commission pronouncements to the contrary notwithstanding. A series of speakers said their pieces without prompting much reaction from anyone. It seemed everything had already been said before.
Then Paul Brooker, who is 79 years old and still working in the stables on the back side of the track, got up in a bright red sweater and a white brush mustache. Brooker, a former Marine and rodeo rider, imagined how hard it would be for someone like himself to get a new job after the track closes.
“Employers are going to ask what you’ve been doing for the last 20 years?” he told the commission. “And you have to say, ‘Well, shoveling s---.’ ”
And, of course, he is not the only one who has been so engaged, just one of the few to admit it.
Sean P. MurphySEAN P. MURPHY
Dead man tells some tales
Nobody figured former New Hampshire House speaker Marshall Cobleigh was a big fan of US Senator Jeanne Shaheen. Politically, at least, they had little in common.
Still, Cobleigh’s anti-Shaheen column in the Dover, N.H., newspaper this week raised more than a few eyebrows. The man, after all, has been dead for five years.
Foster’s Daily Democrat published a 700-word blast under Cobleigh’s name, blaming Shaheen for American’s dominant problem: “skyrocketing” gasoline prices. (Shrewd readers might have noted right there that Cobleigh was, to say the least, a bit behind the times.) The column went on criticize her for “hamstringing” nuclear licensing regulations and fighting an oil refinery in New Hampshire decades ago.
Turns out, the column was written in 2008, during Shaheen’s last campaign. It was circulated in recent days by the state GOP — though not intended to be republished. The Republicans made clear that Cobleigh was no longer with us, but the newspaper, at least at first, did not. Later in the day, the online version noted that the writer was “the late great Marshall Cobleigh.”
On social media, New Hampshire politics junkies had some fun with it.
Best comment of the week: “Alternate headline, ‘GOP Dead Set Against Senator Shaheen’?”
Runner-up: “I’ll only give a damn if he casts a ballot.”
Mayoral rivals get new gigsTwo former mayoral rivals are returning to their roots and to jobs that launched their political and civic careers. Rob Consalvo, a Boston city councilor for more than a decade, is heading back to City Hall to a brand-new, higher-paying post in the Department of Neighborhood Development. And Bill Walczak, a former hospital executive and community activist, is going to lead two foundations that serve the neighborhoods.
Consalvo was tapped Monday to serve as deputy director for the Homeownership Programs. He will be paid $96,000 annually to oversee the management and operations of the Boston Home Center, a key link to helping Bostonians obtain, retain, and maintain their homes.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh hailed Consalvo as a strong leader capable of executing the mayor’s new housing initiative.
“I’m really looking forward to coming back to city government and to be of service to the people of Boston,’’ Consalvo said.
Walczak, a former Carney Hospital president and founder of Codman Square Health Center, will leave his executive position at Shawmut Design and Construction to lead two nonprofits. As the new president of the Lewis Family Foundation, Walczak said he’s eager to start his new endeavor in November, calling it his “sweet spot.”
“Bill’s entire career has been dedicated to social change,’’ said foundation chairwoman Harriet Lewis in announcing the hire. “He is a big thinker who can make the seemingly impossible happen, and he is willing to be provocative and bold on behalf of those most in need. We hope that with Bill’s leadership, we will be able to effect significant change in Boston and around the world.”
The foundation does work across the globe, including here in Boston where the organization is working to raise the four-year graduation rates for students from Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan. It is also aiming to boost jobs and vocational training for youths in those neighborhoods, the foundation said in a statement.
Walczak’s main task is to strengthen the foundation and determine how to best maximize its investments. He will also oversee Grand Circle Foundation, the charitable arm of Grand Circle Corporation, which supported more than 300 humanitarian, cultural, and educational organizations worldwide.
Meghan E. IronsMEGHAN E. IRONS
Queen of the Commonwealth
Lynn City Council President Daniel F. Cahill this week rallied voters to support a straight Democratic ticket on Tuesday. Charlie Baker will not get a coronation, he said. “There will be no king. There will be a queen. And her name will be Martha Coakley.”
Interestingly, he also lamented that so many Dems are running away from the president. “I’m confused why we’re not thanking the leader of the party, why we’re hiding his accomplishments. We need to thank President Obama right now.”
Stephanie EbbertSTEPHANIE EBBERT