When the Sun revolves around the Globe

The editorial boards of the Lowell Sun and the Boston Globe don’t share much common ideological ground. Over the past two days, though, both papers have endorsed state Rep. Dan Winslow, a longtime GOP activist turned legislative back-bencher, for Senate. The endorsements are effectively a joint diagnosis of the dysfunction currently wracking the Massachusetts Republican Party. So it’s only fitting that the choice of both the lunch-bucket Sun and the liberal Globe is running a distant third in the three-way Senate race.

Even though the Globe and the Sun come from starkly different ideological places, they break down the GOP Senate field, and the shortcomings of the state party, in the same way. The Sun calls Gabriel Gomez, a Cohasset businessman and former Navy SEAL, more intriguing on paper than in real life; the Globe says that, aside from an embarrassing public misstep, Gomez remains a virtual unknown. The Sun says former US Attorney Michael Sullivan is severely unelectable, as “his conservative social philosophy simply won’t play in this primary, never mind the general election,” while the Globe delivers the ultimate backhanded compliment of saying Sullivan’s social and economic views “might put Sullivan on a path to victory in, say, North Dakota.” Amazingly, both papers dismiss Sullivan without even having to write him off for being John Ashcroft’s law partner — a nonstarter in Massachusetts politics, if there ever was one.

Interestingly, both endorsements of Winslow implicitly knock the current crop of GOP leadership. While describing Winslow as “a fiscal watchdog” in the mold of former Sen. Scott Brown, the Sun praises Winslow’s willingness to work with Senate Democrats; the Globe praises Winslow as “one of the best-rounded candidates to emerge in either party,” partly because he is “a Republican unbound to the GOP leadership.” Globe columnist Scot Lehigh previously put Winslow to the left of US Rep. Steve Lynch, not to mention Gomez and Sullivan, on abortion and gay marriage.

Winslow won points with the Sun and the Globe for being a gleeful provocateur who was so socially liberal he would take identity politics out of the race. That also helps explain why he’s trailing Gomez and Sullivan so badly.

As the Massachusetts GOP has shrunk, its activist base has tilted to the right. So last fall, when facing stalwart liberals up and down the ticket, the state party declined to reject the national Republican platform, for fear of alienating conservative activists. After losing up and down the ticket in November, a vocal portion of the state party pinned the blame on “trying to out-Democrat the Democrats.” They didn’t see coming within one point of a sitting congressman as being a huge improvement over a 14-point thrashing by that same congressman two years earlier; in the one-point loss of a seasoned, moderate politician running in a moderate state, they saw the futility of moderation. These are the folks who will turn out for a Senate special primary. For them, the qualities that make papers as different as the Sun and the Globe dismiss Gomez and Sullivan aren’t disqualifiers at all.

–PAUL MCMORROW

MARATHON BOMBINGS

Federal prosecutors charged accused Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with deploying weapons of mass destruction resulting in deaths, a charge for which he could receive the death penalty. Federal officials rebut criticism, saying they had no legal authority to monitor Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Time examines Tamerlan’s trips to Russia. The Herald talks to lawyers for other infamous clients — like Timothy McVeigh and shoe bomber Richard Reid — about the Tsarnaev case.

The FBI found a “large pyrotechnic” along with some clothing allegedly worn on the day of the blast in Tsarnaev’s dorm room at UMass Dartmouth. According to Cambridge police, the bombers released the man they carjacked, instead of killing him, “because he wasn’t American.” The Wall Street Journal reports that charges in that carjacking, along with the murder of an MIT police officer and the shooting of an MBTA police officer, are expected in Middlesex County soon.

Speculation begins on where a possible future trial could be held, and Springfield gets a mention.

The Berkshire Eagle calls Republicans out for their attitudes on the Marathon bombing and Newtown.

A Texan is using crowd-sourcing to raise money to replace the boat of Watertown resident Dave Henneberry, who discovered Dzhokhar Tasarnaev in his craft and brought the manhunt to a close, the San Jose Mercury News reports (via Lowell Sun).

The New York Times digs into the difficult decisions facing the marathon victims’ fund over how to meet steep medical and rehabilitation bills. The Times also tells an interesting story of the finish line by interviewing most of the people in a picture from when the first bomb exploded. Andrew Kitzenberg offers great photos of the Watertown shootout between police and the Tsarnaev brothers.

Peter Gelzinis speaks with slain MIT police officer Sean Collier’s chief.

BEACON HILL

The three candidates who have announced their intent to run for the House seat expected to be vacated by Rep. David Sullivan are champing at the bit to start now that it appears a contract for Sullivan to become Fall River Housing Authority executive director is nearing completion.

Chris Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, says the tax analysis contained in CommonWealth’s recent cover story fails to take into account that the state competes primarily against 16 other states, not all 49.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Springfield is betting on a sibling rivalry in the state’s gambling sweepstakes, CommonWealth reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Lowell Sun columnist Peter Lucas calls for a moratorium on all immigration and gives Gov. Deval Patrick a history lesson.

New York City officials propose raising the legal age to buy cigarettes to 21, although the measure would not bar people younger than 21 from smoking, the New York Times reports.

George W. Bush’s presidential library opens in Dallas.

The Wall Street Journal examines Sen. Rand Paul’s quest to turn high-profile political moments into a political movement.

ELECTIONS

Democratic Senate candidates Steve Lynch and Ed Markey slug it out in a debate, with Lynch going on the offensive over Markey’s national security record. Former Gov. Bill Weld endorses GOP hopeful Gabriel Gomez. The Lowell Sun endorses Lynch and Republican Dan Winslow.

The Boston mayoral hopefuls are holding back on resuming their campaigns in the wake of the Marathon bombing. Lawrence S. DiCara and James Sutherland examine where the votes are in Boston.

The Herald endorses Rep. Nick Collins in the race for a vacant South Boston and Dorchester state Senate seat. The paper notes it isn’t endorsing Collins’s chief rival, Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, because of her ties to Gov. Deval Patrick and the SEIU.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The White House has come out in support of a Senate tax bill that would allow states to levy sales tax on Internet purchases.

Quincy-based contractor Cashman-Wakefield has been tapped to develop New Bedford’s South Terminal and dredge the surrounding area, which officials are looking to use as a wind turbine staging area and revitalize the city’s waterfront.

A career website ranks 200 jobs based on work environment, income, stress, and hiring outlook: Actuary comes in first and newspaper reporter last.

Standard & Poor’s is defending itself against federal charges that it misled clients by claiming its ratings aren’t actually independent, and that investors should have known better to believe claims to the contrary.

The Atlantic argues that young people aren’t buying houses or cars — the two goods that normally lead the economy out of recession — because they’re too burdened by student loans.

EDUCATION

The Lawrence Teachers Union has filed labor complaints against the state-run district and Jeff Riley, the receiver who was put in charge of the schools under the terms of a 2010 reform law. CommonWealth looked last year at the state’s bold takeover move and Riley’s turnaround plan for Lawrence’s chronically low-performing schools.

Sturgis Charter Public School in Hyannis, coming in at number 31, is the highest ranking Massachusetts school on US News & World Report’s annual list of best high schools in the country.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

CommonWealth goes One on One with UMass Boston professor Ellen Douglas who has mapped the impact of rising sea levels on Boston.

Massachusetts could become the first state to ban the use of plastic bags by large retail stores after a legislative committee approved the measure.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The Suffolk DA’s office says it will not prosecute the day care van driver who left a Dorchester toddler in a sweltering van for up to six hours in 2011, leading to 17-month-old Gabriel Pierre’s death.

The daughter of Lawrence City Councilor Sandy Almonte is arrested along with her boyfriend for dealing marijuana, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

CULTURE

Clap your hands for Richie Havens, the impromptu opening performer at Woodstock, who died yesterday at 72.