Mass. GOP shootout in a lifeboat continues

LOU MURRAY, the chairman of the Ward 20 Republican Committee in Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood, gets it at least partially right in an op-ed in today’s Boston Herald when he says Massachusetts Republican Party chairman Jim Lyons has become a “pariah.”  

Murray, who is billed as having served as a “national Catholic adviser to Donald Trump,” is a huge Lyons fan, framing the party chairman’s reputation as “the pariah of progressives” as a badge of honor. The problem is that Lyons is now also a pariah among Republicans, an outcast within the party he leads. 

In an already awkward and tense situation that seems like it’s reaching a breaking point, seven former state party chairs released a letter yesterday calling on Lyons to step down or for the state committee to remove him if he won’t. The move came after Lyons issued a statement ripping 29 of the 30 Republicans who hold seats in the Massachusetts House for submitting to “poisonous woke cancel culture groupthink.” 

Ostensibly, the war of words has to do with a Ludlow representative on the Republican state committee, Deborah Martell, who recently told a gay Republican candidate for Congress that she was “sickened” by the fact that he and his husband have adopted two children. 

For days, Republican elected officials called on Lyons, as the party chairman, to call for Martell to resign over the comments. All but one House Republican signed a letter saying Lyons must decry Martell’s comments or resign if the party is to grow and be a more inclusive force in state politics. Lyons refused, defending Martell’s free speech rights and decrying the “cancel culture” he says is trying to silence her.

 But the flap over Martell’s comments is only a proxy for the much larger division over the direction of the party, a battle pitting Gov. Charlie Baker and more moderate Republicans against Lyons and the party’s hard-right wing that was loyal to Donald Trump and continues to embrace his brand of combative social-issue-driven politics. 

The problem for Republicans, of course, is that this is a shootout in a lifeboat. 

The party claims less than 10 percent of the state’s 4.7 million registered voters. It has seen its  already anemic standing in the Legislature shrink even further under the leadership of Lyons, with only three of 40 Senate seats now held by Republicans to go with the 30 seats they hold in the 160-member House. 

The party holds no congressional seats and no statewide office — other than the governor and lieutenant governor.

Meanwhile, some think the party would somehow do better by casting off that one toehold on electoral relevance. 

“Maybe we’re better off without the governorship and we’re able to grow the party from the ground up,” state committee member Steve Aylward told NBC10’s Alison King earlier this week at the site of a fractious state committee meeting. 

That less-is-more strategy may appeal to the hard-right purists who regard Baker as little more than a “RINO,” or Republican in name only. Weeding out the Baker types among the 9.7 percent of registered Republicans in the state could make for more unified state committee meetings. But it’s not clear how it puts the party on a path to winning more seats for elected office. 

MICHAEL JONAS

FROM COMMONWEALTH

 

Community college can pay off: A new study tracking the job and financial outcomes of Massachusetts students finds those that go on to earn a two-year degree from a community college earn 31 percent more than their peers who stop their education after high school. The study indicated the annual average earnings of degree recipients was $29,700, compared to $22,600 for those with a high school diploma.

— The gain from a two-year degree was greater for women than men, largely because many men with high school degrees find work in the high-paying construction industry.

— Women who specialized in health care fields earned far more than those who concentrated their study in other areas. A liberal arts degree from a two-year program yielded only a modest gain in income compared to someone with just a high school degree. For men, the liberal arts degree actually yielded less income on average.

— Black and Hispanic students who earned degrees fared just as well as their white counterparts, but fewer of them actually earned degrees. Black and Hispanic students in Massachusetts are twice as likely to enroll in community colleges as White students, but they are only about half as likely to earn an associate’s degree.

— The study looked at the labor market experience of nearly 58,000 Massachusetts students who graduated from high school over a  three-year period roughly a decade ago and had not gone beyond community college by 2018. The research was sponsored by The Boston Foundation, Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, and MassINC.  Read more.

Extending COVID orders: With the state of emergency set to expire next week, the Senate passed legislation extending a number of Gov. Charlie Baker’s emergency orders — more of them than the governor proposed. The Senate proposal would allow restaurants to maintain outdoor dining and sell to-go cocktails, continue remote participation in meetings, and extend payment rates for telehealth. Read more.

 

OPINION

Should telemedicine be limited by state borders? Stephanie Titus, a primary care physician, treated a patient in Rhode Island remotely throughout the pandemic, but now she’s asking the patient to meet her in a parking lot just over the Massachusetts border as licensing boards limit the reach of telemedicine. Read more.

Long Island Bridge: Bruce Ayers, a state rep from Quincy, pitches alternatives to rebuilding the bridge connecting to the addiction treatment facilities on Long Island. He doesn’t focus on the traffic harm to his constituents, but instead stresses what he considers better alternatives, such as ferry service to the island. Ayers urges Boston acting Mayor Kim Janey to not be bound by the stances of her predecessor. Read more.

Wraparound school services: Joan Wasser Gish of Boston College says the services are needed now, as COVID ebbs, more than ever. “Access to supports and opportunities must become a regular part of how schools operate because they play a pivotal and preventive role in supporting children and youth’s mental health, social-emotional development, and academic learning.” Read more.

 

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

The House agrees to changes in the redistricting process. (State House News Service)

The House passes a measure that would make mail-in voting permanent in the state. (Boston Globe

Gov. Charlie Baker calls anti-gay remarks by a Republican State Committee member “disgusting and unacceptable.” (MassLive)

ELECTIONS

Business leaders are starting to strategize over how to build a campaign to oppose the Fair Share Amendment, which would hike state taxes on income over $1 million, a measure that will likely appear on next year’s state ballot. (Boston Globe) Gov. Charlie Baker says he opposes the so-called millionaires tax. (State House News Service)

Three Boston mayoral candidates — Annissa Essaibi George, John Barros, and Jon Santiago — say the city needs more police. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The developer of Suffolk Downs, a massive project straddling the Boston/Revere line, is switching a portion of the project on the Revere side from housing to lab space, responding to the boom in the area’s life sciences sector. (Boston Globe)

Tim Dibble, a partner in a private equity firm, buys the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge with plans to reopen it after it closed during COVID. (WBUR)

EDUCATION

A separation agreement indicates Education Commissioner Jeff Riley asked the state-appointed receiver of the Holyoke schools, Alberto Vázquez Matos, to step down earlier this year after less than a year on the job and paid him $102,500 in severance. (Daily Hampshire Gazette

The state identified several South Shore schools as disproportionately suspending black students. (Patriot Ledger)

A Haverhill resident who recently graduated from Keene State College sues the school for disciplining him for violating COVID protocols. (Eagle-Tribune)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Genoveva Andrade, the chief of staff to former Fall River mayor Jasiel Correia, pleads guilty to her role in the mayor’s corruption scheme in exchange for avoiding prison time. But a federal judge rejects her plea deal, saying he believes she should be incarcerated. (The Herald News)

The SJC upholds the conviction of Michael McCarthy, who was convicted of murdering 2-year-old Bella Bond, whose body was found in 2015, generating headlines for months until she was identified. (MassLive)

A district attorney in New York appoints a retired judge to launch a new investigation into the 2010 police killing of D.J. Henry of Easton, Massachusetts. (WGBH)