Debate debrief – POLITICO

FINAL FACE-OFF — Last night’s last debate between Maura Healey and Geoff Diehl brought up an intriguing conundrum for the next governor about navigating the Legislature.

A Healey win delivers Democrats what they ostensibly want: continued control of both legislative chambers, plus the return of the governor’s office.

If Diehl wins, he pointed out in the WCVB/WBUR/Boston Globe-hosted bout, those same Democratic supermajorities would stymie his agenda, for better or for worse.

Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl faces Maura Healey at their final debate at WCVB Channel 5 in Needham, Mass. Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. (Carlin Stiehl/The Boston Globe via AP, Pool)

Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl faces Maura Healey at their final debate at WCVB Channel 5 in Needham, Mass. Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. | Carlin Stiehl/The Boston Globe via AP, Pool

Diehl argued that a divided government is what the people want. Massachusetts has, for the better part of 30 years, elected Republican governors to counterbalance the Legislature. But those governors are typically more socially moderate than the conservative, Donald Trump-endorsed former state representative.

For those worried about what would happen to abortion access under a self-described “pro-life” governor, Diehl said “as governor, I don’t make the decision on the ROE Act. The Legislature is a Democratic-controlled House and Senate. My estimation is that will be the case for a number of years. There is no way I’m changing that law.”

Healey argued that the governor has “a lot to do” with reproductive rights, citing how GOP Gov. Charlie Baker and the Legislature came together to protect abortion access after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

But that’s getting away from the point here. Split government can be a hindrance, but it can also provide politicians a key foil. Baker’s thrown up plenty of roadblocks over the years, forcing legislative overrides on some things (like the 2020 ROE Act) and giving Democrats cover not to pursue others.

If Democrats get their trifecta, Healey and Democratic legislative leaders will face pressure to move on their party’s more progressive agenda items. And they won’t have a Republican as a shield. There was plenty of friction between the last Democratic governor, Deval Patrick, and the Legislature. And Democrats are already on different pages on issues likely to surface during the next administration. Take, for example, fare-free public transportation: progressives want it, Healey wants to create a “pathway” toward fare-free buses and House Speaker Ron Mariano wants to keep the focus on paying to fix the MBTA’s myriad problems.

Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey faces Geoff Diehl at their final debate at WCVB Channel 5 in Needham, Mass. Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. (Carlin Stiehl/The Boston Globe via AP, Pool)

Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey faces Geoff Diehl at their final debate at WCVB Channel 5 in Needham, Mass. Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. (Carlin Stiehl/The Boston Globe via AP, Pool) | AP

GOOD FRIDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. Healey gave Diehl some fresh campaign fodder when she wouldn’t rule out raising taxes or rolling back tax cuts if the state’s finances go south. And Diehl came armed with arguments trying to tie Healey to rising energy costs.

But in such a lopsided contest, with early in-person voting starting Saturday, nothing that happened last night is likely to change the trajectory of the race. The Boston Globe, Boston Herald and CommonWealth Magazine have your debate recaps.

TODAY — Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito visits Quinsigamond Community College at 9 a.m. and the STEM Week Challenge Showcase at 11 a.m. at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury. Secretary of State Bill Galvin holds an election-related press conference at 10:30 a.m. at the State House library. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announces a new green infrastructure policy at 11 a.m. in East Boston and attends an Age Strong Commission picnic at 12:30 p.m. in Roxbury. Sen. Ed Markey campaigns with Merrimack Valley leaders and candidates on a 2:30 p.m. business walk, 3:30 p.m. business roundtable and 5 p.m. Power800 AM El Tapón radio interview, all in Lawrence. Rep. Lori Trahan debates Republican challenger Dean Tran from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at UMass Lowell.

THIS WEEKEND — AG rivals Andrea Campbell and Jay McMahon debate on WBZ’s “Keller @ Large” at 8:30 a.m. Sunday; the full debate is available online and streams on CBS News Boston at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. GOP auditor nominee Anthony Amore is on WCVB’s “On the Record” at 11 a.m. Sunday. 

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

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— “7,408 confirmed cases and 58 deaths in a week. See the latest COVID-19 data from Mass.,” by Peter Bailey-Wells, Ryan Huddle, Daigo Fujiwara and Amanda Kaufman, Boston Globe. 

— “Town-by-town COVID-19 data in Massachusetts,” by Ryan Huddle and Peter Bailey-Wells, Boston Globe.

— “Michelle Wu defends city Mass and Cass response in chaotic press conference,” by Sean Philip Cotter, Boston Herald: “Mayor Michelle Wu defended her administration’s approach to Mass and Cass — including the health commission’s distribution of pipes and other paraphernalia — though protesters forced her to move the press conference doing so indoors. Wu’s administration gathered a range of public officials to announce that they’d successfully moved the crowds of homeless from busy Southampton Street to the side road of Atkinson Street, as well as lay out other efforts and positive metrics following a string of stories about the poor conditions in the troubled South End area also known as Methadone Mile. But when they all showed up in Clifford Park, several Mass and Cass-specific protesters and a contingent of the people who’ve chased Wu around the city about various issues going back to the vaccine mandate fights all shouted her down.”

— “Essaibi George to lead Big Sister organization,” by Gintautas Dumcius, Dorchester Reporter: “Annissa Essaibi George, a Dorchester native and former mayoral candidate, will start as president and CEO of Big Sister Boston, a nonprofit organization focused serving 2,500 women and girls in the Greater Boston area. Essaibi George, a mother of four and a teacher, owns the Stitch House, a yarn shop on Dorchester Avenue. She was elected to one of the four at-large City Council positions in 2015. She gave up the seat to run for mayor in 2021, and came in second behind fellow Councillor Michelle Wu. Her first day at Big Sister is Nov. 28. She replaces Deb Re, who is leaving after 16 years in the job.”

— “MBTA to retrain drivers after spike in bus crashes,” by Gayla Cawley, Boston Herald: “The MBTA plans to retrain its drivers next month following an alarming number of bus collisions that have resulted in injuries to customers. There were 153 bus crashes in August, MBTA Chief Safety Officer Ron Ester said, with the majority consisting of collisions with other vehicles or ‘fixed objects’ on the road, such as curbs, trees or utility poles.”

— “MBTA problems not affecting Baker popularity,” by Bruce Mohl, CommonWealth Magazine: “Gov. Charlie Baker’s popularity is not being affected by the ongoing problems at the MBTA, according to a new poll. The survey of 987 likely voters indicates 67 percent view Baker favorably, much higher than President Biden (49 percent) and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey (44 percent).”

— OPENING WEEKEND: At least 151,000 people have already voted by mail, the secretary of state’s office said Thursday afternoon. More than 1 million mail ballots have been requested and nearly 98 percent of them have been mailed out. Now early in-person voting is about to begin. Here’s a look at what some of the candidates are doing as polls open for the general election:

— Geoff Diehl and Leah Cole Allen, the Republican nominees for governor and lieutenant governor, set off on a “Take Freedom Back” tour that will take them through Worcester, West Springfield and Fitchburg on Saturday, and through Sandwich, Taunton, Norfolk, Lawrence and Tyngsboro on Sunday.

— Maura Healey and Kim Driscoll, the Democratic nominees for governor and lieutenant governor, participate in JP Progressives’ GOTV rally at noon Saturday at Jamaica Pond.

— Democratic attorney general nominee Andrea Campbell kicks off canvasses in Randolph and Somerville on Saturday, and attends a Quincy Democrats’ breakfast Sunday morning followed by a canvass kickoff in Watertown at 1 p.m. and a meet-and-greet in Newton at 4:30 p.m.

A message from Delta Dental of Massachusetts:

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— FROM THE OPINION PAGES: The Berkshire Eagle endorsed Maura Healey for governor, Andrea Campbell for attorney general, incumbent Bill Galvin for secretary of state and Republican Anthony Amore for auditor.

— ENDORSEMENT ALERT: Former senator and U.S. ambassador Scott Brown endorsed Geoff Diehl for governor yesterday with a message about not reading too much into polls that show the Republican trailing.

— WATCH: Rep. Jim McGovern debate Republican challenger Jeffrey Sossa-Paquette on WWLP.

— LISTEN: to Republican Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson and Democratic challenger Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux debate on WBSM radio.

— “Attorney general candidates tangle over policing, abortion,” by Alexander Thompson, Boston Globe: “The candidates for state attorney general, Republican Jay McMahon and Democrat Andrea Campbell, clashed over abortion rights, policing, vaccine mandates, and the opioid crisis in the sole debate of a campaign that polls show Campbell is leading handily. McMahon, a Bourne attorney, tried to tie Campbell, an attorney and former Boston city councilor, to calls to ‘defund the police’ while Campbell attempted to cast McMahon as a threat to abortion rights during the debate, which was taped Thursday morning.”

— “Local officials reject concerns about voter fraud as they prepare for the election,” by Steve Brown, WBUR: “Republicans across the country have raised concerns about voter fraud over the past two years, including in Massachusetts. But with early voting set to begin this Saturday, the clerks actually running elections in local cities and towns across the state insist the elections are secure. Brockton elections chief Cynthia Scrivani, who has overseen the city’s elections for 22 years, says her staff has taken steps to make sure voters only receive one ballot by mail, even if they mistakenly sent in more than one request. ‘We have caught some duplicates,’ Scrivani said at her office in City Hall, ‘because people mailed two cards back and I’m like, ‘I don’t know if you think we’re going to mail you two ballots.'”

— “Rep. Pressley touts Dems’ efforts on student loan forgiveness, economic relief ahead of the midterms,” by Brendan Deady, Boston Public Radio: “Polls show that the economy and the roughly 8.2% inflation rate are some of the most concerning issues for Americans heading into this year’s elections. [Rep. Ayanna] Pressley said the Democrats can do a better job of touting the importance of economic support packages and the recent launch of President Joe Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness plan.”

— Related: “Biden’s student debt relief notches early victories from GOP-appointed judges,” by Michael Stratford, POLITICO: “President Joe Biden’s student debt relief program won a pair of early legal victories on Thursday as Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett declined to halt the policy and a federal judge in Missouri dismissed a legal challenge from six Republican-led states.”

— “Boston attorneys travel to U.S.-Mexico border on fact-finding mission for federal lawsuit,” by Cristela Guerra, WBUR: “The group of Venezuelans who were unexpectedly flown to Martha’s Vineyard in mid-September started their journey in the U.S. at the country’s southern border. The nonprofit Lawyers for Civil Rights is representing them in a class-action lawsuit. Executive director Iván Espinoza-Madrigal and his team traveled down to Texas on Oct. 10 and spent a week between San Antonio, El Paso and Juarez, Mexico. The attorneys were there on a fact-finding mission, and to understand the conditions for migrants at the border by visiting welcome centers and local nonprofits.”

— “The new Mass. EV incentives won’t kick in until sometime in 2023,” by Miriam Wasser, WBUR: “In mid-August, lawmakers passed a big climate bill that, among other things, overhauled the state’s electric vehicles incentive program, MOR-EV. … But several months later, none of these changes have gone into effect, leaving consumers, car dealerships and lawmakers frustrated and confused. … State energy officials began by defending the delay, but eventually said there were two reasons for it: administrative back-end work and lack of funding.”

— “Trulieve defends response to worker’s death,” by Shira Schoenberg, CommonWealth Magazine: “Facing public scrutiny of its worker safety practices after cannabis worker Lorna McMurrey’s death, multi-state cannabis company Trulieve on Thursday released a lengthy statement defending its practices and explaining for the first time the circumstances surrounding McMurrey’s death after working a shift at Trulieve’s Holyoke cultivation facility.”

— WALSH WATCH: “Tentative agreement reached between Haverhill teachers union, school committee,” by James Paleologopoulos and Lisa Gresci, WHDH: “Haverhill teachers and the city’s school committee have reached a tentative agreement, following a week of striking, picketing and court actions. Both sides came out just before 11 p.m. Thursday night to sign the deal, reaching an agreement hours after it appeared the union and committee had hit another impasse earlier in the evening. … During the joint announcement, the parties involved thanked numerous individuals who assisted with the negotiations, including former Boston mayor and current U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.”

— “Kennedy compound may be used as a ‘Camp David’ for Congress,” by Asad Jung, Cape Cod Times: “The polarization of American political discourse has gotten to the point where Americans can barely agree on what they’re fighting over. Whether it’s abortion, guns, or even the legitimacy of a presidential election, Americans are at odds with each other, a divide so stark that a bridge between the two sides seems imaginary at best. Adam Hinds, CEO of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, is aware of that rancor and wants to use the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport as a sanctuary where members of Congress can discuss issues with opposing party members, away from the noise and pressures of the Capitol.”

— “State seizes $3.6 million in casino winnings for unpaid taxes and child support,” by Jim Kinney, Springfield Republican: “The state’s three casinos — MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park — captured $3.6 million in would-be casino winnings in the most recent fiscal year to settle unpaid tax and child support debts. That’s up about $200,000 from the previous fiscal year.”

— “’Fraught with legal peril’: Taunton Council restores public input, but with more control,” by Daniel Schemer, Taunton Daily Gazette: “A week after a controversial Taunton City Council vote suspended its public input period, the Council reversed itself and voted to reinstate it, albeit, with new conditions. These are interim terms meant to keep public input going while the city’s Law Department works on new language and a more permanent policy.”

— “As Mass. Processes Sex Assault Kit Backlog, More Tests Are Returning DNA,” by Matt Fortin, NBC10 Boston: “Updated data from state officials shows that Massachusetts is making more progress as it works through the backlog of untested sexual assault kits that has garnered attention and criticism in recent years. Out of the 6,502 sexual assault evidence collection kits (SAECKs) being considered for testing at the start of the initiative to clear the backlog, 455 kits were tested as of October, according to new numbers from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.”

A message from Delta Dental of Massachusetts:

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TRANSITIONS — Doug Howgate has been elected as the next president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation; he is currently executive VP.

— Sally A. Kornbluth has been named the next president of MIT. She’s only the second woman to hold the position.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — to Daniel Sheehan, Erik Bruun, Sam Hiersteiner, Brian Rosman, Megan Murray, Edith Gregson and Shaye J. D. Cohen.

HAPPY BIRTHWEEKEND — to state Rep. John Rogers, Jonathan Carvalho, Jenna Lamond, Atlantic Council’s Trey Herr, Lindsay Kalter and Connor Meoli, who celebrate Saturday; and to Sunday birthday-ers Molly Drennan, Annika Lichtenbaum and Arielle Tait.

AND HAPPY MIDNIGHTS RELEASE DAY — to all who celebrate, and particularly to my Stephanies.

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].

CORRECTION: An earlier version of Massachusetts Playbook misstated what time Rep. Lori Trahan debates Republican challenger Dean Tran.

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