Dark money unlikely to brighten Grossman’s odds

Cue the dark-money attack ad sliming the candidate in the lead.

Cue the counter ad from the attack target calling out the candidate the attack ad is fronting for as a slimy slickster looking for others to do his dirty work .

And though Labor Day, the unofficial start of the real campaign season, is still a month off, cue the bugles signaling post time for the governor’s race — whether anyone is paying attention or not.

Steve Grossman, running a distant second in polls to Martha Coakley in the three-way Democratic primary for governor, has been sniping at her for months over various issues. In April, he staged a bit of standard campaign-playbook theater, convening a “debate” in front of the State House on gun-control issues that featured a empty lectern with no-show Coakley’s name on it. Now, hammering away on the same issue, an independent super PAC run by big Grossman supporters has started running TV ads attacking Coakley.

Today’s Globe reports that the ad, sponsored by Mass Forward, a PAC cochaired by Grossman backers Barry and Eleanor White, says Coakley “is not fit to be governor because she does not support Governor Deval Patrick’s plan to limit gun purchases to one a month.” It tries to make that case in the most heart-wrenching way: showing four Boston-area mothers mothers holding framed pictures of sons lost to gun violence. One of them, Clarissa Turner, who narrates the ad, decries Coakley’s stand against a one-gun-per-month law.

“She says it wouldn’t have any effect,” says Turner. “She’s wrong. One less gun can save a life.”

The Grossman-supporting super PAC was formed in April, so the attack ads were no surprise. That’s why Coakley’s web video ad in response was sitting in the can and ready to go. It consists of a string of man-on-the-street comments and manages to include an outraged citizen who hails Elizabeth Warren‘s success at striking an agreement to ban super PAC money in her Senate race (a nice association for Coakley, even if it reminds some of her Senate loss, which Warren avenged for Democrats). Meanwhile, one woman says we don’t need any of this super PAC spending that is stock-in-trade of the right-wing billionaire Koch brothers (not exactly the kind of association Grossman would find flattering).

The ads are sure to prompt a new round of debate over the role of outside money in the race, with renewed calls by Coakley for a “People’s Pledge” akin to the agreement that kept super PAC spending out of the Warren-Brown Senate tilt.

But leaving that aside, it seems questionable whether the attacks will do much to take Coakley down or boost Grossman’s standing in the polls. As critical an issue as it is for some urban neighborhoods, it’s not clear that gun violence registers that high on voters’ lists of top concerns. And to the extent the issue does resonate, will people really buy the idea that gun-purchase limits would impact urban gun violence, which usually often involves illegally obtained firearms?

Finally, there’s always a danger in going negative in a three-way race: The candidate not involved in the skirmish often gains when the others mix it up. If so, for physician and healthcare executive Don Berwick, who’s running third in Democratic primary polls, the latest round in the Grossman-Coakley mud wrestling match might be just what the doctored ordered.

MICHAEL JONAS

 

BEACON HILL

Paul Ware, the independent counsel brought in by the Supreme Judicial Court to investigating hiring at the Probation Department, says his probe did not clear House Speaker Robert DeLeo, CommonWealth reports.

WBUR’s David Boeri raises questions about federal prosecutors naming House Speaker Robert DeLeo as a co-conspirator at the Probation Department corruption trial but not charging him with any crime.

Putting a thumb on the scale is the Beacon Hill way, according to testimony at the Probation Department corruption trial, CommonWealth reports.

CASINOS

The Mashpee Wampanoags have hired a Las Vegas firm that has had a hand in some of the world’s biggest casinos to redesign the tribe’s proposed casino in Taunton.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Of Boston‘s homicide clearance rate, activist Horace Small says, “Try not to get killed here, because they’ll never figure it out.”

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Clive McFarlane, a columnist for the Telegram & Gazette, says Scott Brown’s candidacy against Obamacare this time around makes no sense.

The new House GOP leadership has promised there will be no shutdown this year when the government is again scheduled to run out of money on Oct. 1.

A CNN poll finds that most Americans are not on board with impeaching President Obama or suing him.

A New York Times editorial calls for the abolition of federal prohibitions against marijuana. Up to eight states, including Massachusetts, will vote on marijuana legalization ballot questions by 2016.

ELECTIONS

Republican Charlie Baker is not only raising more money than his rivals in the race for governor, his fundraising effort is also deeper and cuts across a wider swath of the state, the Associated Press reports.

Republican congressional candidate Richard Tisei has raised more than $200,000 through joint fundraising committees with other Republicans running for office around the country, the Gloucester Times reports.

Tisei is one of several Massachusetts candidates for federal office who have apparently misused campaign funds by spending money raised through state accounts to aid their runs for federal office, the Globe reported on Sunday.

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has unleashed a torrent of negative advertising; a New York Times calculation has overall ad spending rising 70 percent since the 2010 midterm elections.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

After experiencing a big drop in auto insurance rates for two years following deregulation in 2008, Massachusetts drivers have seen rates rise faster than in any other state and they are now essentially back at pre-deregulation levels.

Developer Jay Cashman has finalized his purchase of the MBTA’s ferry terminal and surrounding property at the Fore River Shipyard but the USS Salem, which will move to East Boston, will remain until early next year.

Beretta USA is moving its gun-making operations out of gun-hostile Maryland to gun-loving Tennessee, the Washington Post reports.

EDUCATION

The UMass endowment has shown impressive growth, but its conservative investment approach may be hurting it in today’s market, CommonWealth reports.

Sidestepping seniority and tenure rules, Boston principals are hiring who they want, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is fine with that, CommonWealth reports.

Embracing school choice should start turning a profit for the Peabody schools in three years, as more students come there to go to school than leave, the Salem News reports.

Do as I say, not as I do, seems to be the message on plagiarism in the wake of several controversies involving school superintendents.

HEALTH CARE

The Globe looks at the toll heroin addiction is taking in well-off suburbs like Scituate.

Steward Health Care is completing the merger of its Holy Family and Merrimack Valley hospitals, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

A group of 21 economists from around the nation signed a letter to Attorney General Martha Coakley urging a rejection of the planned merger between Partners Healthcare and South Shore Hospital, saying the benefits won’t negate the loss of competition.

Public health officials say food labels do not give consumers enough information to make healthy nutrition choices.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Globe‘s David Abel looks at the auto subculture of “coal rollers,” people who remove legally-mandated pollution controls from their diesel vehicles because, as one says, “this is about freedom.”

The Cape Cod National Seashore has banned the use of drones, including those used for research, within the park’s 44,000 acres.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A new jail opens its doors in Billerica, built in a record 10 months, the Lowell Sun reports.

MEDIA

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

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