Gomez’s party problem

The more Gabriel Gomez tries to put some daylight between himself and the national GOP, the tighter Gomez’s party clings to him. These guys absolutely cannot take a hint and go away, at least until after June 25. Gomez desperately wants the upcoming Senate election to be a referendum on his fighter jacket and square jaw and single-celled aquatic organisms. But the national GOP keeps mucking that up with its own presence. And the more the Senate race is about the national GOP, the steeper Gomez’s odds get.

Today brings another round of good copy, in which Gomez does practically everything he can to distance himself from the brand of Republicanism practiced in Kentucky. He’s slamming the GOP’s stance gay marriage, global warming, and immigration. He’s saying he “couldn’t care less” whether Mitch McConnell — the man who would be Gomez’s party boss in the Senate — raises money for him. He’s shrugging and pleading indifference when asked whether he wants help from Washington, DC, against Ed Markey. This is because Gomez knows how to read election returns, and because he knows how difficult it is for any Republican, let alone a pal of Mitch McConnell’s, to get elected in Massachusetts.

Short of opening every campaign appearance by playing this video, there isn’t much more Gomez could do to shed his party. But he still can’t shake them. The news out of New Jersey ensures that.

Elizabeth Warren made great use of the threat of a Republican-controlled Senate in her thumping of Scott Brown last November. Democratic gains in the Senate in November seemed to lessen the urgency of party control in the Gomez-Markey contest. But the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, the five-term New Jersey senator, and the scramble that has followed, will put McConnell, James Inhofe, and company squarely back in play.

The New York Times details the complicated calculus facing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie following Lautenberg’s death. The senator’s seat had been set to go up for grabs in November 2014, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker had been widely expected to take the seat in a walk. Now things are stickier. Democrats are already struggling to move legislation through the Senate, even with their majority control. Republicans are pressing Christie to appoint a solidly conservative politician to temporarily fill the seat, flipping a reliably Democratic vote and making Sen. Harry Reid’s already difficult job more difficult.

Christie’s own electoral ambitions are also at play here. He’s up for reelection this November, and is counting on a huge margin of victory to catapult him into Iowa and New Hampshire, where he’ll cast himself as a reasonable, bipartisan-minded presidential candidate. Sharing the November ballot with Booker will almost surely eat into Christie’s margin. If Christie puts his own returns first, takes advantage of the state’s fuzzy special election laws, and puts off a special election until 2014, the Republican he appoints to fill Lautenberg’s seat will be voting with McConnell for nearly a year and a half.

In the long run, Christie’s decision is about how long Booker has to wait to cruise into the Senate. But it throws Democrats’ tenuous control of the Senate into short-term relief. McConnell has already solicited money for Gomez’s campaign, casting the Massachusetts election as being “crucial to taking back the Senate and removing Harry Reid from power.” The prospect of a Republican drinking coffee in Lautenberg’s seat, whether it’s until this coming November or next, makes the Markey campaign’s efforts to nationalize the Senate race all the more potent. And it ensures that Gomez hasn’t heard the last question about Mitch McConnell.

                                                                                                                                                                                    –PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL

Former Beacon Hill staffer and current Kennedy School student Melissa Threadgill pens a thoughtful op-ed arguing we need to focus on fixing state data technology systems, not bashing needy welfare recipients or making them jump through more bureaucratic hoops. Auditor Suzanne Bump pushes back against criticisms of her welfare audit from Gov. Deval Patrick’s office.

CASINOS

A group of waterfront property owners in New Bedford have joined forces to find a national backer and secure a permit for a commercial casino.

Foxwoods presents its casino plan to officials in Milford, promising $20 million a year in revenues to the town, NECN reports.

It’s no dice for idea of a Worcester slots parlor.

Peter Picknelly, head of Peter Pan Bus Lines, prevails against a group with interests in a  Palmer casino who sued the Springfield businessman on a number of fronts including breach of contract. Northeast Gaming Group alleged that Picknelly left them in the lurch when he decided to pursue a casino bid in Springfield. CommonWealth recently profiled Picknelly and his ultimately unsuccessful casino bid.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The chairman of the East Bridgewater selectmen says he was “surprised” to be cited for violating the state’s conflict of interest law when his security company received a contract from the town that was funded by a federal grant he helped secure.

Some Quincy city councilors want the board to shed its power to approve large developments because of some of the legal and political headaches it’s caused for the council.

Boston’s fire chief resigns after being criticized for his response to the Marathon bombings, WBUR reports. The Globe report on Steve Abraira’s resignation is here.

Poverty among children under 18 on Cape Cod has increased dramatically.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Tax incentives soar in New Jersey, but job growth lags behind, Governing reports.

ELECTIONS

Ed Markey makes a big final fundraising push.

A Superior Court judge has tossed out a disputed ballot from a flawed recount in Fairhaven and declared a race for a seat on the Board of Health a tie, which will likely force a new election.

Beverly City Councilor Wes Slate announces he will run for mayor, taking on former council president Mike Cahill, the Salem News reports.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The smaller former industrial cities outside Boston can play a key role in answering the regional need for more housing, writes CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow in his weekly Globe column.

EDUCATION

The Globe’s Todd Wallack reports that the president of the Cambridge-based American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which oversees the induction of hundreds scholars, artists, and leaders ­into the prestigious organization, apparently never earned the Ph.D. she claims to hold.

HEALTH CARE

Facing federal and state payment cuts, Boston Medical Center is poised to cut 85 of its 496 beds.

Voters at Freetown Town Meeting approved a measure to allow a medical marijuana dispensary in the town’s sole industrial park.

Hingham officials are considering extending the town’s smoking ban to include beaches, docks, and cemeteries.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Salem officials close Bertram Field, the football field located at the middle school, after soil tests showed elevated levels of arsenic, the Salem News reports.

If it’s springtime that means its time for passersby to rescue some ducklings that have fallen down a storm drain.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

By a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that police can take DNA samples of anyone arrested for a serious crime. Local police chiefs hailed the decision, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Whitey Bulger’s impending trial puts the FBI in the spotlight as well. Prosecutors and defense battled yesterday over various issues in advance of the trial’s start. Howie Carr believes Bulger only wants to use the trial to rebut allegations he killed Debra Davis and Deborah Hussey — and he’s willing to open himself up to capital murder cases in Florida and Oklahoma to do it. Margery Eagan enjoys the sight of a black female judge presiding over the trial of a man who allegedly shot at the Globe offices over busing.