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    Answers about the 54 ballots, polling in the Fifth, and more

    Facing pressure from within the party ranks, GOP leaders agreed in May to let Mark Fisher to participate in the Sept. 9 primary.
    Steven Senne/Associated press
    Facing pressure from within the party ranks, GOP leaders agreed in May to let Mark Fisher to participate in the Sept. 9 primary.

    The source of those 54 ballots

    The mysterious appearance of 54 blank votes — enough to snuff out a Tea Party gubernatorial candidacy at the GOP’s state convention — came from a single senatorial district, a dramatic disclosure outlined at a recent closed-door state party meeting.

    Party leaders, who have closely guarded the ballots from inspection since the March convention because of a legal fight, let the secret out at their June 25 state committee meeting but asked members to keep it quiet, according to two sources present at the session. The leadership would not tell them which district had included the 54 blanks in its vote tally.

    The 54 votes were not included in the initial tally announced on the convention floor but did appear when GOP leaders and observers for both gubernatorial candidates — party establishment favorite Charlie Baker and conservative Mark Fisher — were going over the final figures behind the convention stage. When added to the total, the extra votes had the effect of shrinking Fisher’s percentage of the whole — and booting him (temporarily) from the party primary ballot.

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    The episode set off charges of ballot manipulation and strong pushback by party leaders. Facing pressure from within the party ranks, GOP leaders agreed in May to let Fisher to participate in the Sept. 9 primary. He is still pressing a lawsuit in order to force the GOP to reimburse him for his estimated $100,000 legal bills.

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    And now, the source of the extra blank votes — all from one district — has become the centerpiece of divisions rocking the state Republican Party. The revelation has also stirred the insurgent minority on the state committee that has been trying to oust chairwoman Kirsten Hughes, her advisers, and consultants.

    Frank Phillips

    FRANK PHILLIPS

    Dr. Don to the rescue

    Who needs single-payer health care while Don Berwick is roaming the streets of the Commonwealth?

    Berwick, an M.D. and former federal health care administrator, was walking in last Friday’s Fourth of July parade in Sudbury when his medical training suddenly became more relevant than his campaign skill. In the torrential downpour thrown off by Hurricane Arthur, a young woman lost consciousness, and Berwick hustled over to assist.

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    “Someone said a young woman had fainted near where I was standing, so I went over to her and helped out,” Berwick said in a telephone interview Monday.

    Berwick said the young woman “was pretty well coming around” by the time he got to her. He checked her pulse, he said, and conducted a quick neurological exam, before giving his cellphone number to the attending police in case Emergency Medical Services wanted to follow up with him.

    Berwick said he allowed his medical license to lapse in 2011, after taking over the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services because, he said, “I could no longer keep up with the medical literature.”

    As for Friday, Berwick called such incidents “always anxiety-provoking,” but said he was confident the young woman would be OK.

    Jim O’Sullivan

    JIM O’SULLIVAN

    Polling in the Fifth

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    The majority of Massachusetts’ House delegation is running unopposed, primarily as a function of the moribund state Republican Party.

    And most attention has been paid to the only hot congressional race, in the Sixth District, where US Representative John F. Tierney is facing a feisty primary challenge from former Marine SethMoulton, with former state Senate minority leader Richard Tisei awaiting in the general.

    But US Representative Katherine Clark, elected last year, is apparently sufficiently concerned about her Fifth District primary challenge that her campaign conducted a poll. Clark’s challenger is Sheldon Schwartz, a Lexington doctor running in a primary against “knee-jerk Democrats,” according to his website.

    “It’s starting to go fairly well,” Schwartz said of the campaign, while noting that, as a challenger, “The system is pretty well stacked against you.”

    Schwartz, who plans to finance the campaign himself, spent close to $200,000 last quarter, plans to shell out between $600,000 and $750,000, and is building out his field and communications team, he said.

    Last quarter, he did not bank any outside contributions, but is open to accepting them, he said: “I mean, I’m not turning down anybody calling to make a donation.”

    Schwartz was suspended last year from part-time work as an internist at Arbour-HRI, a psychiatric hospital in Brookline. He told the Globe he had been a whistle-blower there about patient safety.

    Clark’s campaign declined to comment.

    Jim O’Sullivan

    JIM O’SULLIVAN

    Tickets issued, signs removed

    “Sheriff Bennett” fought the law and the law won.

    Boston’s Code Enforcement Police wrote a $300 ticket this week to Doug Bennett, a perennial candidate running for Suffolk County sheriff. Bennett is responsible for thousands of hand-painted green-and-white “Vote for Sheriff Bennett” signs that have infested Boston’s chain-link fences like an invasive species. (For the record: Bennett is not currently a sheriff.)

    The ticket followed a complaint about a sign on public property on fence near Fenway Park. Code enforcement notified Bennett of citation and gave him 48 hours to take down the sign.

    “According to our folks in code enforcement this has occurred with Doug Bennett before,” said Kate Norton, press secretary for Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I don’t have a hard number, but code enforcement estimated there have been over two dozen complaints. However, every single time we get a complaint, Doug has adhered to the 48-hour rule.”

    Once Bennett removes a sign, code enforcement rips up the ticket. Bennett has not actually been fined by code enforcement, Norton said. Bennett did not immediately respond to an inquiry seeking comment.

    ANDREW RYAN

    Andrew Ryan

    Next step: changing Washington

    They did it. The Mayday PAC, “a crowdfunded, kickstarted super PAC to end all super PACs,” reached its fund-raising goal: $5 million by July 4.

    Mayday PAC was started by Harvard Law School professor, author, and activist Lawrence Lessig and is funded by donations large and small from people all over the country, with the goal of raising $12 million to start a campaign finance reform effort in five congressional districts and get candidates elected to Congress who are willing to change the way campaigns are funded.

    The $12 million, the startup cost to fund the first wave of reformers, was broken into chunks.

    The first goal was to raise $1 million by the end of May — a feat accomplished in 13 days. The second was $5 million by Independence Day. Once a goal is achieved, it is matched by larger contributions raised by high-dollar donors.

    To date, the group has raised more than $7.3 million from 52,482 people, including Steve Wozniak, who founded Apple along with Steve Jobs, and actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jason Alexander.

    Now that money targets have been met, a five-member board that includes Mark McKinnon, media consultant to both of George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns, can move on to Phase 2: electing candidates committed to campaign finance reform.

    “Now comes the tough part — fighting to elect representatives who will fix the broken system of corruption in Washington,” says the group’s website.

    Akilah Johnson

    AKILAH JOHNSON

    The bovine vote

    Long before Bittersweet Farm in Stratham, N.H., became a picture-perfect spot for Scott Brown and Mitt Romney to boost their political fortunes, it was a place for politics of an earthier sort.

    The late Susan McLane, a longtime Republican legislator and mother of Democratic US Representative Ann McLane Kuster, used to tell the tale of her attempt to win the support of the farmer at Bittersweet Farm in her 1974 bid for speaker of the New Hampshire House. When she arrived, the farmer, state Representative Doug Scamman, was tending to a cow who was birthing a calf — not the perfect time to listen to McLane’s pitch. As she recalled, Scamman made her a deal: If the calf were female, he’d support her candidacy.

    McLane didn’t get the support of the cow or the farmer or the House that year. The farmer? In later years, they called him Mr. Speaker.

    Felice Belman

    FELICE BELMAN

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