Could Deval Patrick tip the scales at Justice?

The Boston-Washington axis is all atwitter about the Obama administration’s second-term round of musical cabinet chairs. Will it be John Kerry at State or Defense, or Deval Patrick at Justice? Or both? Or neither? The requisite denials from the White House and the Corner Office have revved up the chattering classes. The Boston Herald’s Joe Battenfeld opines that Obama’s BFF would like nothing more than to get away from the hub of the universe and succeed Attorney General Eric Holder, who may depart by year’s end.  “Getting a White House job is a great way to shine up the resume and earn a lot of money in the private sector,” says Battenfeld, who also speculates about the governor’s presidential ambitions.

What does Patrick bring to the table? He’s shown himself to be tough on crime, signing a sentencing reform bill despite his reservations. His corporate experience would stand him in good stead if the White House decides to pursue civil suits against Wall Street firms for their roles in the housing sector meltdown.

But a Patrick confirmation fight could get ugly.  Senate Republicans would probably like to hear more about Patrick’s tenure as an Ameriquest board member and his role in getting the mortgage lender to reach a settlement with the Justice Department over predatory lending practices.

Any nominee to succeed Holder will be pressed about Fast and Furious, the ill-fated gun trafficking operation that has raised questions about what Holder knew and when he knew it.  Senate Republicans may hold up a new attorney general’s nomination until they get the internal materials that they have demanded from Justice but that the department has so far has not provided.

Herald columnist Kimberly Atkins also points out that although the state’s drug lab scandal has not ensnared the Patrick so far, there may be may be just enough fodder there for the Republicans to grill Patrick. For an example of how Republicans can make life difficult for a Massachusetts governor, see entry under William Weld, Ambassador to Mexico nomination.

Patrick also has formidable competition for the post, including Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

Alan Wolfe, a Boston College political science professor, told the Herald that the president would have to take “Massachusetts fatigue” into consideration, suggesting that the Cabinet might not be big enough for both Kerry and Patrick.

With the popular Scott Brown still very much in the picture and well-respected William Weld back in Boston, President Obama could also decide to keep Kerry in the Senate, while opening the door open for Patrick.

Unlike a Kerry departure, a Patrick move to Washington has fewer immediate ramifications for the Bay State or for Obama’s calculus in the Senate.  Lt. Gov. Tim Murray would be the major beneficiary.  The Worcester native would move seamlessly into to the Corner Office, where he would quickly find out whether he has the right stuff to run for governor in 2014 in field of contenders that is getting more crowded by the day.

                                                                        –GABRIELLE GURLEY

BEACON HILL

More evidence emerges that state overseers were not doing much overseeing of New England Compounding Center. Hearings into the tainted drug scandal kick off today on Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill.  Westborough town officials and businesses worry about lost revenue in the wake of the scandal; Ameridose, a New England Compounding Center sister company is located in the town.

The state Republican Party moderates its platform, sort of.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Boston Mayor Tom Menino fails to get the sharks to stop circling his fifth floor office — especially since he can’t say when he’ll see that office again.

City Hall officials have commandeered more than two-thirds of a municipal parking lot in downtown New Bedford, leaving just six metered spaces and two handicapped spots available to the general public.

A rooming house in Beverly draws complaints from neighbors, the Salem News reports.

Plainville’s interest in slot machines will cost it $100,000.

Boston City Councilor Rob Consalvo calls for a hearing to discuss zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

House Minority Leader Leader Nancy Pelosi decides to stay on.

Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren takes her new tight-lipped demeanor on the road and arrives in Washington.

The White House’s opening bid in its fiscal cliff talks: $1.6 trillion in new revenue, a figure that’s double what President Obama nearly wrested from House Speaker John Boehner last year. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein calls this an FDR moment for Obama and the business community. Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge may be toast. The Atlantic pins the deficit on war, and has the charts to back it up.

Keller@Large jumps in to play the newest parlor game speculating who will succeed John Kerry if he moves over to the Obama administration. Joe Kennedy III squashes speculation that he would try to make the jump soon after being sworn into the House. Outgoing US Sen. Scott Brown urges the Republican Party to be more accepting of moderates like him, the Associated Press reports (via WBUR).

The Wall Street Journal editorial page argues forcefully against the anti-immigration right, arguing that the Republican Party’s immigration stance has been driven by fear, not facts, and that it’s burying the GOP.

Governing puts a spotlight on a rare instance of political cooperation. The Oregon House in 2010 was evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, so the two parties took the unusual step of appointing co-speakers. The result has been the most successful legislative session ever.

The Daily Beast offers some insights into Jill Kelley, the wealthy Tampa socialite who ingratiated herself into the highest ranks of the military and ended up  bringing down some of the nation’s top generals. The Wall Street Journal reports Kelley had second thoughts after initiating the FBI investigation into mysterious emails she received.

ELECTION 2012

Steve Koczela and Paul Braun, in CommonWealth, explain the challenges pollsters face at a time when many voters are abandoning land lines and refusing to answer pollster calls. Koczela is the president of the MassINC Polling Group and Braun is the head of a call center.

Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor of the National Review, says the GOP was an albatross around Mitt Romney’s neck, not the other way around. Which is pretty much the opposite of what this Wall Street Journal op-ed column argues. Paul Ryan proves he can count, sort of.

City Journal’s Steven Malanga throws cold water on the idea that Romney was sunk by his poor showing among Hispanic voters and that continued growth of the country’s Hispanic population dooms Republicans going forward.

Mike “No Money”  Connolly, who was profiled in the latest issue of CommonWealth, went down to defeat against incumbent Cambridge state rep Tim Toomey, proving that more campaign money rather less is probably a good idea. Connolly sought to combat the influence of money in politics by pledging to run his campaign without accepting any donations.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Springfield Republican argues that the Westover Air Reserve Base has to be protected from closure in order to preserve the $238 million that flows into the area economy.

CHARITY

An unnamed nonprofit is auctioning off an 1837 letter from John Quincy Adams outlining the former president’s opposition to slavery.

EDUCATION

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell wants to expand sports and arts programs in the city’s middle schools, arguing that studies show they are keys to academic success.

Georgia’s first state online school takes heat for failing to address the needs of special education students, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

HEALTH CARE

A new state health report card shows an alarming rate of heroin use and and overdose incidents.

A woman dies after her hospital in Ireland refused to terminate her pregnancy because a fetal heartbeat was detected, the BBC reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Mary Booth and Margaret Sheehan, in CommonWealth, analyze the state’s decision to close the biomass loophole.

The federal government next fall will auction off leases to develop more wind farms off Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard but it could be another 25 years before any wind energy is generated in the area.

Citgo received approval from Braintree officials to build a storage tank for 270,000 gallons of biofuel at its Quincy Avenue facility next to the Fore River.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

WBUR’s David Boeri examines an attempt by US Attorney Carmen Ortiz to seize a Tewksbury motel because many of its guests were dealing drugs.

A homeless man in Lynn admits to robbing two homes with the hope of getting arrested and going back to jail, the Item reports.

MEDIA

Dan Kennedy offers his thoughts about what Marty Baron’s departure does to the Globe and what his hiring will mean for the Washington Post. Northeastern professor and former Globe writer Walter Robinson appears on Radio Boston to talk about Baron. The Washington Post story on the transition focuses heavily on the departure of Baron’s predecessor, Marcus Brauchli. The New York Times reports that Baron’s job at the Post will be similar to what he did at the Globe — overseeing cutbacks and trying to minimize their impact.