Political Happy Hour: January 11, 2017

Here’s your Trump Winery 2015 Viognier bottle of politics, from Joshua Miller of the Boston Globe at the Massachusetts State House, where they don’t even sell boxed wine.

EVEN WHEN IT’S SUNNY, BRING AN ☂ DEPARTMENT, via Frank Phillips on “Republican Governor Charlie Baker, who has enjoyed persistent popularity, controls one of the most muscular fund-raising operations in the state, and has no formidable Democratic opponent on the horizon, should be entering his third year in a commanding position for re-election. But Baker’s path to winning a second term next year will not necessarily be easy. In fact, he faces some serious hurdles.

The state’s Democratic electorate and the potential for contentious fiscal issues overtaking Beacon Hill could make Baker’s race a real battle. So could a series of controversial 2018 ballot issues that would likely draw liberal voters to the polls. But perhaps most hazardous are the uncertainties created by the election of Donald Trump, a deeply unpopular presidential candidate among Massachusetts voters. Baker didn’t support Trump in the presidential election, but he will need to cultivate the Trump administration for help on a host of state issues. ...”


FODDER FOR A 2018 CAMPAIGN AD? via Priyanka Dayal McCluskey on “The Massachusetts Medicaid program recovered more than $80 million last year through cases settled by Attorney General Maura Healey’s office. That is one of the largest amounts ever recovered for the program in a single year, Healey’s office said Wednesday.

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Medicaid, known in Massachusetts as MassHealth, is the public program that provides health-coverage for poor and low-income residents. Massachusetts spends more than $15 billion a year on the program, which covers about 1.9 million people. Its costs are split between the state and federal governments. ‘Medicaid is 40 percent of the state’s budget and it must be protected,’ Healey [who has said she isn’t running for governor in 2018, but could always change her mind] said in a statement. ...”

WOMP-WOMP SCOTT BROWN, via Felice Belman and Jim O’Sullivan on “Former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown will not be the new head of the Department of Veterans Affairs after all. ...”

WARREN, HEALEY TO SPEAK AT LOCAL WOMEN’S MARCH, via Michael P. Norton of the State House News Service: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Attorney General Maura Healey, and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh are the featured speakers during a rally and march scheduled on Boston Common the day after President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural in Washington D.C.

The speaking lineup for the Jan. 21 event was announced Wednesday by the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, which said the Boston Women’s March for America is one of 300 similar events happening around the country and internationally. ... According to the women’s caucus, more than 25,000 people are expected to gather for the speaking program near the corner of Charles and Beacon streets.” Behind paywall:


ANIMALS IN SNOW! via NBC News on Twitter: “WATCH: The @OregonZoo was closed to the public today due to heavy snow -- but the zoo’s residents had a blast.”

HOLYOKE MAYOR SEES PROMISE IN POT, from me in today’s Globe with a Holyoke dateline: “Vacant mill buildings along a series of canals serve as constant reminders of this impoverished city’s halcyon days as the Paper City of the World. But the mayor has a distinctly 21st-century plan for the old factories. Alex B. Morse imagines marijuana growing in them.

Morse, the 27-year-old wunderkind who has been in office for more than five years, believes his hometown is on the upswing, with the lowest rates of crime and unemployment in many years. But the city, with a poverty rate almost three times the state average, requires an infusion of industry. And the state’s nascent recreational marijuana business, he says, would be a perfect fit.

The argument he makes for Holyoke becoming a recreational pot hub: Growers need massive amounts of space, low-cost electricity and water, and access to transportation. Holyoke has more than 1.5 million square feet of vacant mill space downtown and some of the state’s cheapest power and water, and it is positioned on the Massachusetts Turnpike and Interstate 91.

Holyoke needs ‘to capitalize on this industry in that it will create jobs, expand our tax base, increase revenue for our community,’ he said in a City Hall interview. But the notion of this hardscrabble city becoming the center of the state’s marijuana trade has drawn sharp opposition from other leaders in the community. ...”


TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP! These are the lead paragraphs of the lead stories on the big three news websites as of about 3:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON POST: “President-elect Donald Trump acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that he believes Russian operatives hacked the Democratic Party during the election, but he continued to dispute intelligence reports that Moscow acted to help him win. ...”

NEW YORK TIMES: “President-elect Donald J. Trump, insisting he will not divest himself of his vast business empire as he prepares to assume the presidency, plans instead to turn over all of his business operations to a trust controlled by his two oldest sons and a longtime associate, top officials with his company said on Wednesday. ...”

ASSOCIATED PRESS: “A defiant President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday adamantly denied reports that Russia had compromising personal and financial information about him, calling it a ‘tremendous blot’ on the record of the intelligence community if material with any such allegations had been released. ...”

DID YOU SEE OBAMA’S FAREWELL ADDRESS YESTERDAY? Hey, that man can give a speech. Who knew? Full video of remarks:

GOOD NEWS FOR FREQUENT FLIERS OUT OF LOGAN, WHICH HAS A LOT OF JETBLUE FLIGHTS, via press release: “JetBlue, the airline that changed in-flight entertainment forever when it first put live television at every seat, today announced its latest onboard enhancement: always-free and speedy Wi-Fi connectivity on every aircraft from the departure gate to the arrival gate. ... Gate-to-gate Fly-Fi eliminates the need to wait until reaching cruising altitude to get connected. ...”

SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED TO ME TODAY. I was driving back from a workout just before 7 in the morning and a big truck cuts me off, forcing me to slam on the brakes. I look up and ... it’s a Globe delivery truck that had, presumably, just dropped off a bundle of papers with my Holyoke story on the front page. I refrained from honking, even though I learned how to drive in Boston.

HMM, I WONDER WHY BOSTON MAYOR MARTY WALSH, UP FOR RE-ELECTION THIS YEAR, IS POSTING THIS. “My Top 11 Moments of 2016 ... Starting City-Wide Dialogues on Race ... Securing $54 Million in HUD Grants for Boston ... Expanding Access to Higher Education by Introducing Our Tuition-Free Community College Program ... Watching Two of Boston’s Young Men Introduce President Obama at the Last My Brother’s Keeper Event in Washington ... ” Etc.

MUNICIPAL TALKER, via WGBH: “New Bedford has logged the steepest unemployment decline in the country with rates falling from 6.5 percent to 3.7 percent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, studying a one-year period that ended in November, looked at 400 cities nationwide before crowning New Bedford as the city with the biggest drop in joblessness. The finding puts the city’s unemployment rate at the lowest level it has seen in 16 years. WGBH All Things Considered host Barbara Howard spoke with New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell about how his city has become a leader in getting people back to work.”

[SIREN EMOJI], via Matt Stout of the Boston Herald: “The Baker administration has stripped dozens of vehicles of their blue emergency lights because they were deemed unnecessary, according to a systemwide review officials said was sparked by an ex-parks deputy who misused a state-issued car to weave through Boston traffic. ...”

GOOD DAD ALERT, via the Idaho Press-Tribune’s Lis Stewart: “When a Nampa [Idaho] family was unable to get tickets to go inside the famed Ice Castles in Midway, Utah, dad Jared Mundell decided to create a homemade ice castle for his kids to enjoy. ...

Using an orchard step ladder strung with Christmas lights, a drippy hose and Mother Nature’s biting sub-zero temperatures last week, Mundell created an almost 20-foot ‘ice castle’ in a matter of days. His kids, huge fans of the Disney movie ‘Frozen,’ love it. ...” With photos:

LePAGE SAYS THERE IS LESS OF HIM TO HATE, via the Sun Journal: “After doctors told him he faced the prospect of diabetes, Gov. Paul LePage secretly had surgery in September to trim off excess weight. ‘There’s 50 less pounds of me to hate,’ LePage said Wednesday during his weekly interview with WLOB radio in Portland.

LePage said the bariatric surgery was amazing. He said he went in on Sept. 29 for a non-invasive procedure and was back at work the next day. Bariatric surgery aims to help obese patients lose weight. LePage said he’s now about 200 pounds, right where he wants to be. One advantage? He said he’ll fit into his tuxedo for next week’s inaugural events. ...”

Nice to know the guy has a sense of humor. Being a pol without of a sense of humor seems like a recipe for misery.

Back tomorrow, joyfully.

’Til then:

Joshua Miller can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos and subscribe to his weekday e-mail update on politics at