Tsongas dives into Lawrence’s mayoral cage match

Most Massachusetts officeholders don’t want to be seen anywhere near Lawrence City Hall these days if they don’t have to be there. Members of Congress tend to stay way far away from mayoral races, especially if it’s a dicey one like the November contest between incumbent William Lantigua and his challenger, Dan Rivera.

US Rep. Niki Tsongas doesn’t have the luxury of avoiding Lawrence. After all, she represents the Immigrant City in Washington. But she could have remained neutral in the mayor’s race. Yet the congresswoman who represents the Third Congressional District took a “no guts, no glory” stance in the most important municipal race outside Boston and endorsed Rivera.

Tsongas doesn’t have much to gain or lose by declaring her support for Rivera. If he wins, she looks brilliant. If Lantigua wins, she can expect fewer votes in Lawrence in 2014, where the mayor runs an exceptional get out the vote effort.

Barring the emergence of a very strong challenger, a drop-off in Lawrence votes is unlikely to hurt her reelection chances in the district. In short, she can win without Lantigua, and he would certainly have to play nice in the sandbox with the person who helps funnel federal dollars to Lawrence.

More likely, Tsongas is sending out two signals. Her decision probably won’t move many Latino voters in this majority-minority city that depends heavily on state aid. However, to the white voters among the 20,000 who did not turn out for the preliminary election, the congresswoman is perhaps telegraphing they should take a closer look at Rivera and head to the polls in November.

Then there is the critical issue of money. A Tsongas endorsement could help Rivera raise campaign dollars elsewhere in the Merrimack Valley and further afield in the Bay State.

Tsongas and statewide politicians are clearly tired of the embarrassing telenovela that the Lantigua administration has become. US Sen. Elizabeth Warren has had to wear her game face with Lantigua, but happily did a photo-op with Rivera in Lowell last month.

Gov. Deval Patrick attended Lantigua’s 2010 inauguration and endured Frank Sinatra crooning “My Way,” which the new mayor used as his theme song for the festivities. However, last year in brief remarks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a medical device company in Lawrence, Patrick acknowledged several politicians representing the city, including Tsongas, and three state lawmakers, but never even mentioned Lantigua. 

Attorney General Martha Coakley raised eyebrows when she skipped the Lantigua inauguration at the last minute. Her reasons for that decision became clearer as the Lantigua administration unraveled with assorted scandals that resulted in the indictments of current and former city employees with close ties to the mayor. With City Hall mired in ongoing federal and state corruption investigations, the building is highly unlikely to be high on Coakley’s itinerary as she cruises around the state during her campaign for governor.

The conviction yesterday of Lawrence police officer P.J. Lopez on federal charges in a towing kickback scheme does not help Lantigua. That development, along with the Tsongas endorsement, only helps Dan Rivera. But neither development really hurts the mayor either.  No one should underestimate William Lantigua in the epic battle for the hearts and minds of Lawrence voters.

 

–GABRIELLE GURLEY

     

BEACON HILL

The Globe reports that Cardinal Sean O’Malley will host a get-together next week for the more than 100 legislators representing communities within the Boston archdiocese as part of a “relationship building” effort. The Boston See was once a potent political force on Beacon Hill, but that clout has been waning for decades, as this (pre-clergy sex abuse scandal)   CommonWealth profile of then- Cardinal Bernard Law showed.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

School buses in Boston were rolling again this morning after yesterday’s one-day walkout by bus drivers. Across the city, families scrambled as the strike threw thousands of lives into chaos. A union official tells the Herald that the school department had a heads-up about the strike, but a nameless City Hall source tells the paper that union officials “always say they are going to go on strike.” Michael Graham argues that the strike doesn’t make things any easier on Marty Walsh .

A computer consultant working for Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy says he was ordered to remove a computer in the office of her rival, City Council President Timothy Phelan, to see if the device was being used improperly for campaign work, the Item reports. The consultant provided his testimony to the city council via a statement and ignored a subpoena.

The Globe ’s Larry Harmon calls out Boston city councilors, starting with the body’s president, Steve Murphy , for their weasley ways in wanting to avoid taking a tough stand on the Boston police contract.

Local police say gangs are moving into the suburbs around Brockton, bringing with them drugs and violence.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

President Obama intends to nominate Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve Bank, NPR reports. Time offers up five things you need to know about her. Yellen brings a human touch to the Fed. The Wall Street Journal worries about easy money.

Heating assistance programs and free and reduced school lunches on the South Shore are becoming victims of the ongoing federal government shutdown. New Bedford Standard Times columnist Steve Urbon takes Cardinal Sean O’Malley and the rest of the US Conference of Bishops to task for embracing “shutdown politics” that impact social programs they would normally support as a way of getting policy changes to the health care law. A broad swath of the GOP shrugs at the prospect of a US monetary default.

In America magazine, Robert David Sullivan illustrates the growing partisan divide in Washington through an interesting dissection of the US Senate today versus an earlier, less polarized era in the 1970s.

McCutcheon v. FEC could be the next frontier in the battle over Citizens United, the Daily Beast reports.

ELECTIONS

Marty Walsh scores a big endorsement coup with the backing of former mayoral rivals Felix Arroyo and John Barros . All eyes are now on Charlotte Golar Richie , who could play kingmaker in the race.

Boston development and transportation initiatives spurred neighborhood pushback in the 1960s. Read the latest in Jim Aloisi’s series on pivotal mayoral races from the past.

Bill Galvin will seek re-election as secretary of state and not run for attorney general, a move that opens the door to lots of would-be candidates for AG.

The Democrats in the Fifth Congressional District race debate on NECN’s Broadside.

Just 12 percent of New Bedford’s registered voters turned out for the city’s preliminary election.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY/CULTURE

Twitter has no women or minorities on its board of directors, a lack of diversity that is fairly common in the tech world.

JP Morgan is cutting payday lenders and pawn shops loose, because they’re giving the bank a bad name.

The show must go on: Boston’s First Night celebration lives after donors, led by Newton-based   Highland Street Foundation , step forward.

EDUCATION

A new state audit details what went wrong at the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School and contributed to the school’s insolvency, the Gloucester Times reports.

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would raise the school dropout age to 18 .

TRANSPORTATION

Massport officials say they will take action on against an employee answering a dedicated complaint line who allegedly cursed a Milton resident and told him he was wasting his time when the caller phoned in a noise complaint about departing flights early Sunday.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

State officials are expected to give a key approval to a new natural gas-fired power plant in Salem, the Salem News reports.   

State officials plan to resume logging at the Quabbin Reservation, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

A Newton research lab has found contaminants such as over-the-counter drugs and insect repellant in 75 percent of the drinking water supplies tested on Cape Cod

Meet the Author

Gabrielle Gurley

Senior Associate Editor, CommonWealth

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

MEDIA

A Revere police officer caught sleeping on the job in a WBZ investigative report is demoted, the Item reports.