Charter defeat is a winning issue for Baker

After the Senate voted Wednesday to keep the state’s cap on charter schools in place, the head of one of the state’s teachers unions told the State House News Service, “I’m doing super-well right now.” But the unions aren’t the only ones feeling super good after Wednesday’s charter vote. Charlie Baker, the Republican candidate for governor, also has to be feeling pretty good right now. The state Senate just handed him a stick to take to Democrats in cities across Massachusetts.

Cities made the difference between Scott Brown ’s 2010 Senate win and Baker’s 2010 gubernatorial loss. Baker ran 14 points behind Brown in Chicopee four years ago. He was 15 points off Brown’s pace in Holyoke , 12 points back in Springfield , 12 points off in Fall River , 14 points back in New Bedford , and 11 points back in Lowell and Haverhill . Baker’s poor showing in the state’s cities drowned out Republicans’ natural advantage in the state’s suburbs.

 

Charlie Baker can’t win without the urban vote. He knows this, because he knows how to look at a map and read a spreadsheet. He doesn’t have to win cities across Massachusetts. But he also can’t get blown out, as he did four years ago.

Baker has drastically altered the tone of his campaign this time around, softening the angry-guy rhetoric and trying to take a number of divisive issues, from gay rights and abortion to guns and the environment, off the table.

He has also gone to lengths to refashion the geography of his campaign. He’s made a point of repeatedly stumping in gateway cities like Lawrence and Worcester — places where he can’t lose by the margins he suffered in 2010 and still survive this November. The cities Baker hopes to advance in, and the educational and economic hurdles they face, are far more present in his stump speeches than any sop to suburban voters.

Baker sits on the board of a charter school operator that works with high-risk children in Chelsea, Lawrence and Springfield. He had been lobbying the Legislature — albeit in hilariously unsuccessful fashion — to lift the cap on the number of charter schools the state allows. Charters largely aren’t an issue for the kinds of suburbs with high-flying school districts that form a large chunk of Baker’s political base. Charters matter most to people who live in low-performing urban districts. And on Wednesday, shortly after Senate Democrats overwhelmingly voted against charters, Baker’s campaign issued a statement calling the votes “a defeat for urban families.”

Baker’s statement said the Senate had “bowed to political pressure and handed urban families stuck in struggling schools a massive defeat by shutting down access to high performing schools. I care deeply about delivering the best possible education to every child in Massachusetts and this charter school legislation would have gone a long way in achieving that goal.”

The state’s Democratic Party has mocked what it has called “Baker’s new interest in cities,” and painted the Republican as an interloper. Wednesday’s Senate vote on charters gives Baker an issue he can hit back on, hard.

PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL

Gov. Deval Patrick says he would like to house immigrant children who crossed the US border illegally. Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy urges the gov to just say no. NPR offers an explainer on the immigration crisis.

The Senate passed a new abortion buffer zone bill intended to pass constitutional muster following last month’s unanimous US Supreme Court decision striking down an earlier Massachusetts buffer zone law.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles helps out Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera’s bid to revitalize his downtown by agreeing to move its South Lawrence branch to a downtown location yet to be selected, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh calls the Boston Redevelopment Authority a mess in the wake of an audit finding millions of dollars in unpaid fees and lease payments, CommonWealth reports. The Globe and Herald also weigh in on the audit.

Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, rebuffed in her earlier efforts to remove the police chief’s position from civil service, suggests alternative approaches to expand the pool of applicants, the Salem News reports.

CASINOS

Mitchell Etess, the head of Mohegan Sun, tells NECN’s Jim Braude that the gambling market in Massachusetts is not saturated and says his firm is the best to open a Greater Boston casino because one of six people in the state are already in the casino firm’s database.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The US House votes to block District of Columbia gun regulations, the Washington Post reports.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s PAC raises more than $620,000 over the last three months, the Associated Press reports. Margery Eagan says that after Warren’s recent southern swing, the senator could beat Hillary Clinton one-on-one.

ELECTIONS

Scott Brown and his flubs of renown: Brown still hasn’t figured out that New Hampshire isn’t Massachusetts, plus hitting the restroom to avoid a Guardian reporter.

In his blog, Paul Levy urges the gubernatorial candidates to tell the judge reviewing the consent agreement between Attorney General Martha Coakley and Partners HealthCare what they think.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Marriage isn’t bad, but it’s not the panacea to poverty that conservatives claim, says Carter Price in The New Republic.

Cape Ann Savings Bank of Gloucester acquires Granite Savings Bank of Rockport, the Gloucester Times reports.

The last-place Red Sox are winning big — at the box office.

EDUCATION

The Mansfield schools superintendent resigned following charges that she plagiarized the speech she delivered at last month’s commencement for the town’s high school.

TRANSPORTATION

The Wall Street Journal highlights a worrisome trend of states dedicating gas tax revenues to non-transportation budget items.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Berkshire Eagle joins the chorus warning about the links between fracking and increased incidence of earthquakes.

Australia’s Senate votes to repeal the nation’s carbon tax, the BBC reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A federal judge rules California’s death penalty is unconstitutional, Time reports.

MEDIA

The dean at Temple University’s School of Media and Communication says newspaper publishers need to stop deluding themselves. What would he say about the Boston Globe’s CEO, Michael Sheehan, dubbed “Mr. Sunshine” in the new issue of CommonWealth?

Jill Abramson clarifies her status: She’s not a “former” Times editor, she’s a “fired” Times editor.

An editor remembers Nadine Gordimer.