Lantigua plots a comeback

Big-name Democrats abandoned William Lantigua last fall, as the then-mayor of Lawrence battled for his political life. Now, as Lantigua lays the groundwork for a possible political comeback, he has returned the favor and severed his ties to the Democratic Party.

The Eagle-Tribune reports today that Lantigua has dropped his Democratic voter enrollment in favor of an unenrolled status — a move the paper sees as the first step toward a run for his old state rep seat. By running as an independent, Lantigua would bypass a September Democratic primary, and put himself on the ballot in November.

Lantigua lost to Daniel Rivera by 83 votes in last fall’s mayoral election.

Lantigua’s former House seat is now held by Marcos Devers, who lost two prior clashes with Lantigua over the seat, and who placed third in last year’s Lawrence mayoral primary. The seat was a source of controversy for Lantigua, before a string of federal and state corruption investigations cast a darker set of clouds over Lantigua’s troubled administration. Lantigua initially tried to hold on to the seat after his 2009 mayoral victory. He resigned the seat only after state lawmakers threatened to withhold a financial rescue package for the city.

CommonWealth reported last fall that Devers partisans feared their candidate’s opposition to Lantigua in Lawrence’s recent mayoral election would earn him retribution, in the form of a Lantigua-backed opponent. It now looks like that opponent will be Lantigua himself.

“He hasn’t told me for sure he’s going to do it, but he’s told me he’s considering the possibility,” Lantigua ally Alfonso Garcia tells the Eagle-Tribune. “Everyone in the 16th District that supported him for mayor is going to support him for whatever he wants to do.”

A number of prominent Democrats broke with Lantigua last fall. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Niki Tsongas endorsed Rivera. Roger Lau, one of Warren’s top aides, and John Walsh, the former state Democratic boss and a top adviser to Gov. Deval Patrick, aided Rivera’s campaign when Lantigua launched a recount effort in November. Democratic leadership was largely behind Lantigua’s forced march from Beacon Hill in 2010. Now, as a pair of former aides face corruption trials, and a federal grand jury investigates a botched $800,000 election-season road paving spree that Lantigua personally oversaw, Lantigua is jettisoning his party ties, and striking out on his own. And the soap opera that surrounds everything Lantigua says and does plays on.

–PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL

The state has fired the contractor that built the badly dysfunctional Health Connector website.

The Berkshire Eagle agrees with the need to do-over in the medical marijuana dispensaries process and says that the Child Welfare League of America’s initial findings about the Department of Children and Families should surprise exactly no one.

Meanwhile, another day, another lawsuit filed by a losing bidder in the marijuana dispensary licensing process that critics say was riddled with problems.

Salary spending soars at Massport.

MassLive spotlights the Somerville voting rights activist who digitized 40-plus years of state election results.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The state Ethics Commission tells Lowell City Councilor John Leahy that he can help select the next city manager, even though one of the finalists is his brother-in-law, the Sun reports.

Brockton Police Chief Robert Hayden will take a $100,000 pay cut after the Boston Retirement Board ruled he could not freeze his pension and maintain his health insurance.

The Peabody City Council botches a billboard moratorium; the city’s lawyers says the ban is toothless, the Salem News reports.

Newburyport city officials huddle up over the future of the city’s redevelopment authority.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Slate asks why Democrats aren’t running more ads starring people who have benefitted from Obamacare coverage.

ELECTIONS

Republicans say Scott Brown‘s likely entry into the New Hampshire Senate race gives a big boost to their chances of taking control of the chamber. Greater Boston has a couple Granite State pundits answering the question: Will voters up north embrace the former Bay State senator?

A new poll shows Wendy Davis pulling within 7 points of her Republican opponent, Greg Abbott, in the race for governor of Texas, The Daily Beast reports.

Aides to US Sen. Rand Paul are mapping a possible bid for president in 49 states because a law in his home state of Kentucky prohibits candidates from being on the same state ballot twice, meaning he would have to choose between reelection or the White House.

A Hopkinton selectman who hopes to challenge US Sen. Ed Markey files an ethics complaint against the senator over his call for an investigation into Herbalife.

Joe Battenfeld sees Gov. Deval Patrick‘s rocky second term as opening the door for Charlie Baker.

Rep. Charlie Rangel is on the outs with his frenemies Bill de Blasio and President Obama.

Mitch McConnell ‘s reelection bid tests the appeal of insider politics.

EDUCATION

The Salem School Committee votes 6-1 to have a private firm take over operation of the Bentley School, the Salem News reports.

Swampscott Police patrol a middle school after learning of a non-specific social media threat by two students, the Item reports.

The MetroWest Daily News argues for more charter schools.

Controversy over Asian racial stereotyping has bubbled up in the aftermath of a Newton high school production of Thoroughly Modern Millie.

The New York Times spotlights Baltimore‘s bid to use a new public school as an urban renewal tool.

HEALTH CARE

President Obama‘s appearance on the fake talk show Between Two Ferns coincided with a run on Obamacare coverage; the health plan is now shy of its coverage target by 1 million enrollees.

The executive director of the state’s Health Policy Commission tells a Patriot Ledger editorial board the panel is still strongly opposed to the proposed merger between Partners HealthCare and South Shore Hospital, but would not say if they will take measures to block it.

TRANSPORTATION

Republican state Rep. Geoff Diehl of Whitman, one of the leaders of the movement to repeal the gas tax hike, will debate state transportation secretary Rich Davey over the need for the increase in the levy.

The MBTA flatly rejects complaints by the losing bidder in the contract to operate the regional commuter rail system, saying the issues raised “do not present a close call.”

SCIENCE

A Harvard-led team of astrophysicists announced a landmark new finding on the origins of the universe, saying they have captured images for the first time of gravitational waves that help explain what happened just after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. Albert Einstein, who was really smart, predicted just such a scenario some 99 years ago.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A former personal banker at Bank of America is sentenced to three to five years in prison after admitting the theft of $2.1 million from 31 investors, the Lowell Sun reports.

MEDIA

Nate Silver launches his new FiveThirtyEight and talks about, among other things, bringing statistical analysis to the impact of Zdeno Chara intimidation.