DeLeo spins a positive tale

House Speaker Robert DeLeo dutifully sidled up to the state’s other top Democrats at a “unity” gathering yesterday morning in Dorchester, where party pooh-bahs reveled in their victories — and tried to paper over any divisions from primary races that saw some of them on the losing side of big races.

Asked after the event about the defeat of two of his top lieutenants, Rep. Jeff Sanchez of Jamaica Plain and Rep. Byron Rushing of Boston’s South End, DeLeo didn’t address the losses and instead sought to put the election in a statewide framework. He pointed out that of 130 Democratic state reps, only 16 had primary challengers and 13 of those lawmakers prevailed.

“I think it was a good night for the Democratic House,” he said. Maybe he’s right based on sheer numbers. But it was not a good night for the House that DeLeo built. Two of the three losses were handed to lawmakers who formed a key part of the left flank of the big tent DeLeo has tried to fashion, and they were the only two minority reps on his leadership team.

In the Sanchez race in particular, challenger Nika Elugardo made the heavily centralization of power in the House a major issue. Despite Sanchez’s position as chairman of the powerful budget-writing House Ways and Means Committee, she said he operated more “with permission, not with power,” with all the real power in DeLeo’s hands.

That message resonated strongly in his liberal-leaning Jamaica Plain district, where voters were angry over the dropping of an immigration protection measure from the final state budget Sanchez helped negotiate as well as the watering down of renewable energy legislation and failure to update the state’s education funding formula.

In some ways, the elevation of Rushing and Sanchez into top House posts seemed destined to eventually provoke fallout of some kind. They were liberal lawmakers who were part of the leadership structure of a House that often frustrated progressive advocates who said it was the obstacle to passing measures endorsed by the more liberal-leaning Senate.

In a Sunday opinion piece for CommonWealth, Stefanie Coxe, a former staffer to several Democratic elected officials, said disaffection with the ways of the House is not a matter of left-right ideology as much as it is disillusionment with the lack of transparency and “small ‘d’ democratic values” in the way it operates.

The real question is whether the defeat of top DeLeo lieutenants in two of the state’s most liberal districts is the canary in the coal mine that signals more upheaval ahead, or outlier results that don’t say much about the broader political climate in the state.

Former state transportation secretary Jim Aloisi came down firmly on the side of the former explanation.

“If there isn’t a leadership change – in person and attitude –  in the #mapoli House as a necessary & logical outcome of yesterday’s election results, there will be a tsunami of change sweeping House incumbents out across the state in 2020,” he tweeted on Wednesday. “The clock is ticking.”

That also seemed to be the view of state Rep. Russell Holmes of Mattapan, who was axed from a committee vice chairman’s post last year after urging minority, women, and progressive lawmakers to band together in the selection of the next speaker. “This is clearly a rebuke against the Speaker and the way he’s doing things, and how those things translate to our districts,” Holmes said on election night about the defeat of Sanchez and Rushing.

Democrats nationally are feeling optimistic about signs that a blue wave may be coming this fall. Whether there is a reform wave heading for the Massachusetts House of Representatives seems far less certain.

MICHAEL JONAS


MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Quincy Conservation Commission unanimously voted to deny a permit to Boston officials to construct the new Long Island Bridge after representatives from Boston objected to a delay in the hearings, forcing the board to vote. (Patriot Ledger)

Brockton officials seized the city’s tallest building by eminent domain with the intent to turn it over to a Boston developer for a 52-unit housing complex, despite the building’s owner assembling his own development team. (The Enterprise)

Marshfield and Quincy library officials have temporarily done away with late fees and fines and offered amnesty not just to get books returned but encourage those who need the services most, such as seniors and low-income families, to take advantage of services without fear. (Patriot Ledger)

The proposed ballpark for the Worcester Red Sox cleared its first legislative hurdle. (Telegram & Gazette)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, in Washington for a meeting of sheriffs with President Trump, was chosen to announce an initiative by the National Sheriffs Association to launch a website aimed at crowdfunding Trump’s border wall. (Standard-Times)

ELECTIONS

Ayanna Pressley’s crushing win in Tuesday’s 7th Congressional District primary is being hailed as a sign of the changing times. (Boston Globe) Tom Keane isn’t so sure. He noted most incumbents easily coasted to victory, said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh looks weak, and has some doubts about Gov. Charlie Baker’s chances against Jay Gonzalez. He also points out that Capuano got more votes in this primary than he did when he was first elected, suggesting one-on-one matchups against incumbents may not be the long-shot they were once thought to be. (WBUR)

Pressley’s win was also a big win for Attorney General Maura Healey, the lone top-name state political figure back her insurgent candidacy. (Boston Globe) Healey didn’t always support the underdog, however; she backed Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, over his challenger, Nika Elugardo, who scored a big upset. (CommonWealth).

The conservative Herald editorial page says it disagrees with Pressley on a lot of issues, but nonetheless gushes over her win, saying her “inspiring win belongs to all of us now.” (The paper had endorsed her over 10-term incumbent Michael Capuano.) Howie Carr is considerably less enamored with her win. (Boston Herald)

Joe Battenfeld says Charlie Baker’s reelection seems a little less certain today than before the change wave that saw Pressley crush Michael Capuano and the strong show of Republican restiveness that handed his far-right GOP challenger 36 percent of the primary vote. (Boston Herald) Democratic nominee Jay Gonzalez looks to rev up the excitement and Democratic engines he needs to propel his campaign. (Boston Globe) A look at the campaign night speeches of the two candidates illustrates their very different philosophies and approaches. (CommonWealth)

A Globe editorial says the cliffhanger primary in the Third Congressional District — which either Lori Trahan or Dan Koh will end up winning with about 21 percent of the vote — hammers home the case for ranked-choice voting.

Perennial Boston candidate Althea Garrison will become an at-large city councilor once Pressley resigns her council seat by virtue of placing fifth in last year’s at-large contest for four citywide seats. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

South Hadley entrepreneur Scott MacGregor is trying to open another adults-only store on Route 1 in Peabody. MacGregor is seeking a permit to open an Adam & Eve store selling all sorts of adult products. (Daily Item)

EDUCATION

Boston school officials said they expect all bus routes to be covered today, on the first day of classes for district schools — and they expect many buses to be late as usual in the early going of a new school year. (Boston Globe)

Holding educators accountable for student graduation rates and grades is prompting many of them to cheat. (Governing)

The annual Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education rankings place Harvard at the top with MIT tied for third and a total of 15 colleges and universities in Massachusetts ranked in the top 100. (Wall Street Journal)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Cereal giant Kellogg’s recalled boxes of its Honey Smacks earlier this year over reports of salmonella poisoning but the Centers for Disease Control recently issued another warning because some stores continue to sell the potentially contaminated cereal. (U.S. News & World Report)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers say they have successfully found a way to reduce the winter moth population that eats up trees and fruit crops to non-pest levels through the introduction of a parasitic fly native to Europe. (Wicked Local)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

Framingham officials have signed host agreements with two cannabis testing labs that call for $8,000 for in-kind services to the city including testing marijuana products for police. Because the labs don’t sell products, the agreements don’t include direct payments. (MetroWest Daily News)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Thirteen colleges and universities have banded together to form an education pipeline for current and former inmates to help them reintegrate into society. (Telegram & Gazette)

Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn criticized a Fall River Superior Court judge for lowering the bail on a man with a history of being charged with violent crimes, including the charge he was being held on for assaulting his wife and child. (Herald News)

MEDIA

In an extraordinary decision that has gripped Washington, the New York Times published an unsigned op-ed from a “senior administration official” in the White House, whose identity editors know, describing in essence a shadow government of high-level aides who run out policies and regulations while frustrating President Trump’s “agenda and his worst inclinations.” Trump lashed out at the Times and the author, calling it “gutless” to run the column while aides scrambled to identify who wrote it. (Washington Post)