Brown’s tightrope walk

US Sen. Scott Brown, trying to keep his distance from the Republican Party, walked a tightrope this week as the GOP met in Tampa to nominate Mitt Romney for president. At times, the senator’s contortions up on the political high wire were almost comical to watch.

Brown stayed away from the convention until Thursday, declining an offered speaking role. But he said his absence had nothing to do with his fears of being labeled a Republican by his Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren. “I have my own race, and I have my own life, as you know,” the Globe reported. “There’s only so many days in the year to be a dad and a husband and a soldier and a senator and then run for reelection.” (Notice he didn’t mention “be a Republican.”)

Brown also has a Romney problem. The two men share top campaign advisors and Brown has described Romney as a political mentor, yet the senator is reluctant to publicly embrace his “very special friend” because President Obama is likely to trounce Romney in Massachusetts. Romney has moved further and further to the right as he has run for president while Brown is positioning himself as a bipartisan moderate. Most Republicans, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said they understood Brown’s fear of Tampa, the Herald reported.

To his credit, Brown ultimately did the right thing and flew down to watch Romney’s acceptance speech. It would have been a violation of his good-guy code if he didn’t, because Romney was there for Brown when the little-known Wrentham state senator was mounting his long-shot Senate campaign against Attorney General Martha Coakley in 2010.

“I know professor Warren wants to nationalize this race as evidenced by her commercials, by her rhetoric,” Brown told reporters in Tampa. “She’s running against me. She’s not running against the national ticket, or national issues. I’m a moderate pro-choice Republican who’s truly bipartisan. You’re not going to get that with her.”

He’s right. Warren is unlikely to be as bipartisan as Brown if she is elected. Yet Warren is only trying to do to Brown what Brown did to Coakley in 2010. National money poured into Brown’s 2010 campaign and he sold himself as the 41st vote against Obamacare. Now Warren is making the same case, that Brown’s votes in Washington may be all over the map but a vote for Brown could be a vote for a Republican US Senate. 

                                                                                                                                –BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

Gov. Deval Patrick shuts down the state crime lab, amid allegations of mishandled drug evidence. Here’s the Globe’s report. Some local police departments are retrieving evidence from pending cases and waiting to find out if cases they’ve solved will be tossed because of the tainted results from the state lab in Jamaica Plain.

Massachusetts tax credits are finally getting some serious scrutiny, CommonWealth reports. Missouri is also trying to rein in tax credits that cost $630 million last year, up 15 percent from the year before, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi’s pension is revoked. An appeal is planned, the Globe reports.

A gambling consultant hired by Springfield to sort out the city’s gambling proposals separately works for some of the companies seeking to build a gambling mecca there, the Globe reports. The Berkshire Eagle analyzes the controversy.

The Fall River Herald News has the breakdown of the most recent campaign finance reports for area candidates for the Legislature and, as if you didn’t know, finds it’s good to be the incumbent.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The Bristol County Commissioners have filed suit in federal court against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to recover deed excise taxes the mortgage giants did not pay when they resold foreclosed properties.

Al Gore calls for the elimination of the electoral college.

A day after Texas has its redistricting maps thrown out, a court finds the state’s voter ID law is discriminatory. Meanwhile, a federal judge in Florida rejects part of an election law that critics said made it difficult to register voters, Governing reports.

California bans gay conversion therapy.

ELECTION 2012

Republican political consultant and WBUR commentator Todd Domke provides the good, the bad, and the ugly of Mitt Romney’s speech. Time offers a mixed review. The National Review thinks Romney hit the perfect tone with his acceptance speech, especially hitting back at charges of being a corporate raider. The American Spectator focused more on Sen. Marco Rubio than the nominee he introduced but declared Romney’s speech sound. The Weekly Standard’s William Kristol is apoplectic that Romney failed to mention the war in Afghanistan or acknowledge the troops. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio was a fan, though. The Atlantic says Romney tried to position himself as a “capitalist saint.” The Washington Post was less than impressed. Here’s text of Romney’s speech.

Clint Eastwood delivers a head-scratching yet entertaining indictment of President Obama that spurs a new Twitter handle @InvisibleObama with nearly 40,000 followers. A Huffington Post article on Clint’s “make my day” speech garners a boatload of comments. Get Michael Moore’s take on “Crazy Clint” at The Daily Beast.

Paul Ryan draws Democratic ire for blaming a plant closing on President Obama, despite the fact that Obama wasn’t even president when the plant closed. Paul Krugman knocks Ryan’s “brazen dishonesty.”

A Hanson businessman has triggered a lot of controversy by putting up a pair of anti-Obama signs outside his motorcycle parts distributorship, including one with a young girl putting up her middle finger to the president. US Sen. Scott Brown, who has received donations from the business owner, Robert Sullivan, called the signs “inappropriate.”

US Rep. William Keating and his Democratic primary opponent, Bristol District Attorney Sam Sutter, squared off in a testy, final debate for the 9th Congressional District seat with Keating touting his experience and Sutter labeling him an ineffective ladder-climber.

Embattled state Rep. Daniel Webster fended off ethics questions from his write-in challenger in the GOP primary — and former campaign manager — Karen Barry during a radio debate on WATD. In Andover, Rep. Paul Adams and his Republican primary challenger Alex Vispoli square off in a debate, the Sun reports.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino calls the notion of endorsing Elizabeth Warren “premature.” Menino is going to talk about Romney’s years as governor at the Democratic National Convention.

CHARITY

Charitable donations by the rich — those earning $200,000 or more a year — dropped by $31 billion during the height of the recession between 2007 and 2009, according to newly released IRS figures.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Verizon will issue credits to some 8,000 who lost phone, Internet, and video service after the mattress of a homeless person in Lawrence caught on fire and torched a fiber optic cable, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

EDUCATION

Harvard accuses 125 students of cheating, the Globe reports.

The Boston Teachers Union offers concessions, the Globe reports.

HEALTH CARE

Dr. Helen Carter of Worcester says she won’t take new patients weighing more than 200 pounds because they put her staff at risk for injury, WBUR’s CommonHealth blog reports.

The Globe’s Steven Syre tracks Steward Health Care’s struggles in Rhode Island.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Joe Kennedy III breaks with his family and endorses Cape Wind.

The Republican applauds the new federal fuel efficiency standards, and in a rare show of agreement, so do auto manufacturers and environmentalists.

MEDIA

A 97-year-old message in a bottle sets new record, Time reports.