Baker’s Trump problem

Charlie Baker, like the Republican Party nationally, doesn’t know what to do about Donald Trump. Like a runaway train, Trump increasingly seems like he’s headed for victory in today’s Super Tuesday primaries, which would put him in the driver’s seat to win the Republican nomination for president.

Baker is a moderate and substantive Republican who has little in common with the combative and vacuous Trump. But Trump for now is running away with the Republican race for president. Voters are gravitating to his uncensored persona and his flair for theatrics. Republicans nationally and in Massachusetts seem weary of traditional politicians running for president.

What should Baker do? He thought he had dealt with the Trump issue by endorsing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie just before the New Hampshire primary. But Christie failed to gain any traction in the Granite State, dropped out of the presidential race, and then, sensing which way the wind was blowing, endorsed Trump.

Now Baker is saying he won’t be voting for Trump in today’s primary, but he won’t say for whom he is voting, probably because he isn’t thrilled with any of his choices. He also won’t say whether he would vote for Trump if he’s the GOP nominee in November, saying the race for the nomination isn’t over yet.

Globe columnist Joan Vennochi says Baker should join Nebraska Republican US Sen. Ben Sasse and vow never to vote for Trump. “Baker needs continued support from Democrats and unenrolled voters. They won’t like any wavering on Trump and what he represents,” Vennochi writes. “It’s not just the politically right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do, period.”

Baker has made it quite clear where he stands on Trump, saying “he’s not my guy and he’s not my candidate.” What Vennochi and others want Baker to do is abandon the Republican Party if Trump is the nominee, something the governor is not willing to do — yet.

–BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

House leaders putting together an omnibus energy bill say they want to encourage hydro and offshore wind, but they don’t want the average price of electricity to change. (CommonWealth)

The Globe reports that the federal inquiry into Sen. Brian Joyce includes scrutiny of an Easton subsidized housing project in which he worked for the developer while also helping to secure state aid for the effort.

Attorney General Maura Healey’s Abandoned Housing Initiative is expanding its reach. (Salem News)

A state bill would require lobbyists who work at the municipal level to register with cities and towns. (State House News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter is opposing a measure that would increase the smoking age from 18 to 21, saying action should be taken on a statewide level so Brockton businesses are not put at a disadvantage. (The Enterprise)

James Karam of First Bristol Corp. of Fall River holds a ground-breaking for a new hotel in Worcester. (Telegram & Gazette)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

In Maine, Gov. Paul LePage and the Legislature basically hate each other. (Governing)

Clarence Thomas breaks his silence, asking his first question as a Supreme Court justice in 10 years. (Time)

ELECTIONS

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are poised for big victories in the Super Tuesday states. (New York Times)

Bernie Sanders turns out 3,600 at event in Milton on eve of Super Tuesday. (Patriot Ledger) Hillary Clinton has stops in Springfield and Boston. (Boston Globe) Bill Clinton stumps for his wife at 11 p.m. in Worcester. (Telegram & Gazette) And he’ll be in West Roxbury today with Mayor Marty Walsh. (Boston Herald) Ohio Gov. John Kasich brings his campaign to Plymouth. (Patriot Ledger)

Charlie Baker’s mentor, former governor Bill Weld, suggests Trump’s xenophobic frothings may just be an act and says he could support him as the nominee “if he settles down.” He says he could also end up supporting Hillary Clinton. (Boston Herald)

The UMass Amherst economics department, long known as a redoubt of leftist economic thought, is suddenly on the radar as the academic backstop for some of Sanders’s proposals. (Boston Globe)

A MetroWest Daily News editorial backs Hillary Clinton in the Massachusetts Democratic primary, but the newspaper also runs endorsements written by guest columnists of nearly every other candidate running in both primaries. The Gloucester Times backs Marco Rubio and Bernie Sanders in the Republican and Democratic primaries.

Bill Ketter raises concerns about Donald Trump’s war on the news media. (Salem News)

Almost 20,000 Massachusetts Democrats have shed that party registration label in recent months, making them eligible to vote in today’s Republican primary, a possible signal of the cross-party strength of Donald Trump. (Boston Herald)

Jake Binnal, a 17-year-old high school student from Framingham, pulls nomination papers to run as a Republican for the seat held by Sen. Karen Spilka, the chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. (Masslive)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Software firm Kronos Inc. is moving its corporate headquarters from Chelmsford to the Cross Point complex in Lowell, pending the completion of tax break negotiations. (The Sun)

MetLife deal makes MassMutual the largest writer of new insurance policies in the United States. (Masslive)

EDUCATION

Marie St. Fleur says early education centers are not taking advantage of a federal food program, leaving many Bay State children without access to meals. (CommonWealth)

Mashpee Schools Superintendent Brian Hyde, who was acquitted of trespassing charges in connection with a visit to a student’s home, is negotiating his exit from the district and the terms of the deal are expected to be kept secret. (Cape Cod Times)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The opioid treatment business is booming, with investors lining up to get into the field. (WBUR)

A push is on to allow pharmaceutical companies to share “off label” indications for drugs with doctors. (STAT)

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA’s Fiscal Management and Control Board cancels late-night service. (State House News)

Globe columnist Dante Ramos says a fare hike is an unfortunate, but necessary, part of the effort to get the MBTA on track. The T’s oversight board gets more feedback on a fare hike, most of it negative. (State House News)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

For nearly four months and counting, students, alumni, faculty and others have been staging a sit-in outside the office of MIT president L. Rafael Reif calling on the university to divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies. (Boston Globe)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Newly unsealed court documents support the idea that the Tsarnaev brothers acted alone in carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings and had no plans for further attacks. (Boston Globe)

Boston police release a videotape of the fatal shooting by an officer of a suspect last month. (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

The Spotlight best picture Oscar warms the Boston Globe and journalism. (New York Times) The Boston Herald tips its cap to its news rival and celebrates the attention the Oscar is bringing to the vital work of journalism. Will Bunch, however, says the glory days of journalism are over and looks no further than the coverage of presidential campaigns as evidence. (Philly.com) Ex-Globie David Warsh says the narrative in Spotlight that previous editors had little or no interest in the priest pedophilia story is just not true. (Economic Principals)

Erin Andrews says ESPN required her to do an interview about being videotaped undressing through a hotel room peephole by a stalker before she could return to work. (Deadspin)