New Hampshire sours on Brown

Scott Brown couldn’t hold on to his Senate seat two years ago, despite being one of the most popular politicians in Massachusetts. The lesson in Brown’s 8-point loss to Elizabeth Warren appeared to be that, in the liberal Bay State, ideology trumps affability. Brown promptly packed up his pickup truck, sold his Wrentham home, decamped to New Hampshire, and began making noises about running for Senate in his new home state — where, presumably, he could cash in on his political stardom without carrying his political party around his neck like an albatross.

The calculus behind Brown’s move north unraveled yesterday. A Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll shows Brown trailing Sen. Jeanne Shaheen by 13 points in a hypothetical Senate matchup. Worse, his favorability in his new home is upside-down: Just 33 percent of the voters Suffolk surveyed view the former People’s Seat occupant favorably, compared to the 42 percent who view him negatively.

Suffolk pollster David Paleologos marvels at the poll in a Herald column today. Nothing in the data suggests that Brown should be faring as poorly as he is, Paleologos writes. President Obama‘s favorability in the state, which he won twice, is upside-down by double digits. A majority of New Hampshire voters believe the president’s signature accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, is bad for the state. Two-thirds don’t see any improvements in the local economy. But even against that backdrop, which should be poison for the Democratic incumbent Shaheen, Brown struggles. He’s weak with female voters, unpopular among both Democrats and independents, and viewed as a carpetbagger.

Brown hasn’t yet jumped into the New Hampshire Senate race. He’s working as a lawyer at a major Boston law firm, and as an analyst on Fox News. He might just be in New Hampshire because he likes clean air, lakes, mountains, and freedom. But he’s been publicly flirting with a Senate campaign for months, and he appears to be serious about at least taking the race seriously.

It’s worth noting that the political climate Brown faces in New Hampshire looks far harsher than the one he left behind in Massachusetts. Even after losing to Warren in 2012, Brown remained hugely personally popular. A July 2013 MassINC Polling Group survey put his favorable/unfavorable split at 45/29 — far better than the 33/42 numbers he faces in New Hampshire. A January MassINC poll found that more voters want to see someone else have a crack at the Senate seat now occupied by Ed Markey, than believe Markey deserves to be reelected. Brown passed up a tilt with Markey.

It looks like he now has far tougher fight on his hands, if he wants a fight at all.

–PAUL MCMORROW  

BEACON HILL

The father of a 15-year-old girl who was placed in foster care by a judge in a battle over her health care treatment talks about the ordeal he and his wife are going through in their fight with Boston Children’s Hospital and the Department of Children and Families.

Lawmakers say they hope to take up legislation requiring more disclosure about “dark money” flowing into local campaigns, but it seems unlikely to move in time to be in place for this year’s gubernatorial election, CommonWealth reports.

They wasted no time, however, in passing in a single day a bill to outlaw “upskirting” photos. Probably speaking for many, Boston magazine’s David Bernstein warns lawmakers: “Expect to hear the phrase ‘but you did the upskirting law in one day’ a lot from me henceforth.”

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Beverly loses a lengthy court battle over the legality of its licensing of a restaurant on its waterfront, the Salem News reports.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wants to consider extending closing time at city bars until 3:30 am.

Opposition to the redevelopment of a Cambridge courthouse tower grows.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Two more abortion clinics close in Texas in response to new state regulations approved by the state legislature last year, Governing reports.

Tough town: Months after taking three-quarters of the vote in New York‘s mayoral election, Bill de Blasio‘s approval rating falls to 39 percent.

ELECTIONS

Retiring Somerset police chief Joseph Ferreria announced he will challenge incumbent Governor’s Councilor Oliver Cippolini, who ousted his own brother for the seat in 2010, in the Democratic primary.

Slate takes in Chris Christie‘s vanilla CPAC speech. Marco Rubio, once one of Christie’s main rivals for the 2016 nomination, tries to marry his immigration liberalism to a muscular foreign policy.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

New numbers show mixed signals on employment in Massachusetts, WBUR reports.

The developer of the mixed-use project at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station reversed course on its push to get Weymouth to take over a $12.5 million bond in its effort to kickstart the stalled development.

The state’s manufacturing sector is booming and more positions will open in the next 10 years as veteran workers retire.

A Peabody cleaning contractor has agreed to a $1 million settlement over charges that it engaged in a variety of schemes to avoid paying workers overtime.

Staples will close up to 225 stores, or 12 percent of its North American retail outlets, in the face of intense pressure from Internet commerce. It’s unclear how many of the company’s 75 Massachusetts stores could be shuttered.

EDUCATION

Lawrence school teachers grumble about state receivership, with one claiming many mid-level teachers are leaving the system, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

The state has begun a push to get school districts to fingerprint all employees to run national background checks on them, starting immediately with new employees, and then all teachers and staff within three years.

A new survey of college freshmen shows that students are paying more attention to the high cost of college.

New York education activists want to shift the debate from universal pre-K to full-day kindergarten.

HEALTH CARE

The owners of a proposed New Bedford marijuana dispensary that was rejected by the state is the second organization to file suit to block all 20 license recipients because of what they say is a flawed selection system.

A new study suggests teens who try e-cigarettesare more likely to try real cigarettes and start smoking, NPR reports. CommonWealth’s current issue reports on the woman leading the charge against e-cigarettes in Washington.

Enrollment under the Affordable Care Act spikes.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The state’s highest court heard arguments in the fight by some Brockton residents and environmental activists to block a controversial new gas-fired power plant in the city.

Five dolphins were found stranded yesterday morning on the bayside beach in Provincetown at low tide; rescuers were able to get four of them back to deep water, while one died.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A federal grand jury is investigating the paving of city streets orchestrated by former Lawrence mayor William Lantigua just prior to last year’s election, which he lost by 83 votes, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

The judge in the federal corruption case of former Probation commissioner John O’Brien and two of his top aides recused himself yesterday but not before blasting defense attorneys for what he says is a thinly-veiled manipulation of the system.

Two officials from the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts criticize Inspector General Glenn Cunha‘sreport on the Annie Dookhan scandal, but say the Supreme Judicial Court is headed in the right direction on how to handle the fallout from the chemist’s fabrications.

The stand-off between Suffolk County Register of Probate Patricia Campatelli and court officials continues, with Campatelli remaining on paid leave over allegations of improper conduct in office while she denies there is any basis for the actions.

MEDIA

A former editor and the owner of Polar Beverage Co., apparently the only local team that has shown any interest in buying the Telegram & Gazette, say they are withdrawing from the process, the T&G reports.

The FCC is planning to vote on several rules changes regarding ownership of television stations and restrictions on broadcasters getting involved in local cable rate setting, changes the new head of the commission thinks will broaden transparency and public input.

The Boston Globe has laid off its last six staffers in the paper’s Your Town hyperlocal sites though the sites will continue as content aggregators. The Nieman Journalism Lab explains the shift to a metered paywall at the Globe and more separation between the paper’s two websites.

Getty Images , concerned that many of its photos are being used illegally on the Web, has decided to make 35 million of them available for free, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports.

The guy behind the Goldman Sachs Elevator Twitter account, who never worked at Goldman but somehow still landed a book deal based on the hilarity of Goldman’s elevator, loses said book deal.