Mass. GOP takes a pounding

The Republican caucus in the Massachusetts Senate, which was already down to six lawmakers, will now have just enough members to pop open a card table for a game of bridge. Which they might as well just do, for all the clout they’ll be wielding in the 40-person chamber.

Democrats grabbed two Senate seats previously held by Republicans in special elections on Tuesday, adding insult to an already badly injured state GOP that shows no signs of life — or of having a clue how it might claw its way back to relevance.

In the South Shore/Cape Cod district, Democrat Susan Moran of Falmouth beat Republican Jay McMahon of Bourne to capture the seat recently vacated by GOP senator Vinny deMacedo. Moran took 55 percent of the vote to McMahon’s 45 percent, flipping back a seat for Democrats that was once held by former Senate president Therese Murray.

Meanwhile, Democratic state Rep. John Velis of Westfield trounced Republican businessman John Cain of Southwick to take the Senate seat vacated by Republican Donald Humason when he was elected mayor of Westfield. Preliminary results showed Velis thumping Cain nearly 2-to-1.

An easy conclusion to draw is that Mass. Republicans are being dragged down by the toxic brand Donald Trump has created for their party in the state. The president is wildly unpopular in Massachusetts, something Never-Trump Gov. Charlie Baker seems to understand well as he continues to defy the state’s increasingly blue hue with sky-high popularity ratings.

But the view of the state Republican Party here seems akin to the adage that the beatings will continue until morale improves.

While Baker has found lots of running room by separating himself from Trump, the GOP’s two Senate fall guys both joined themselves at the hip to a president whose handling of the coronavirus crisis meets with approval from only 25 percent of Massachusetts residents.

“He wants people to work hard,” Cain said of Trump in a recent interview with the Springfield Republican. “He wants Americans to be treated right and to be taken care of because we have been getting the short end of the stick on a lot of things internationally, which a lot of politicians were afraid to bring light to.” Meanwhile, a group called United Cape Patriots planned a sign-waving standout last Saturday at the Bourne Bridge rotary in support of both McMahon and Trump.

State Democratic Party chairman Gus Bickford declared Tuesday’s outcome “a bad night for Donald Trump,” and said in a statement that the two flipped seats were a sign of what’s to come in November.

The results seem to represent a big flashing warning to the state GOP that riding the Trump train in Massachusetts means chugging right toward the cliff.

But there’s little indication that Mass. GOP chairman Jim Lyons, a big Trump backer who is working hard to pull the party to the right, thinks any course correction is in order.

“We are disappointed,” he tweeted last night. But he then seemed to just parrot the president’s MAGA talking points. “The radical Democrats are committed to fundamentally change our country. We are committed to Keep America Great.”

His characterization of the opposition, which takes a page from the national GOP playbook, seems out of step with the Springfield Republican’s description of Velis as a “moderate Democrat.” Velis told the paper, “I don’t do this partisan nonsense. It’s not in my DNA, I categorically reject it.”

Earlier this month Lyons told State House News Service that the party sees opportunities for victory  in a couple of upcoming special elections for House seats as well as in several state rep contests this fall — when Trump will be on a ballot.

But judging from Tuesday’s results nationalizing these local legislative races only seems to play into Democrats’ hands. It may be a bitter pill to recognize the wisdom of a Democratic icon, but Lyons and the state GOP in particular might do well to remember Tip O’Neill’s axiom that all politics is local.

MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

Parents and daycare providers are frustrated with the uncertainty surrounding when daycares can reopen and parents can get back to work. (CommonWealth)

US Rep. Ayanna Pressley tweets that Gov. Charlie Baker is moving too quickly in reopening the economy. (WBUR) Baker may quietly appreciate the heat from Pressley and the left, since it provides some cover against the relentless attacks from the right from Howie Carr, who says Baker is teaming up with fellow micromanaging New England governors to form a new Warsaw Pact. (Boston Herald)

The State House remains closed to the public. (MassLive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says he may reopen Boston more slowly than Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered. Specifically, he thinks allowing offices to reopen at 25 percent of their capacity on June 1 is too much. (State House News) Whether the Boston Marathon will be held in Boston in September is also uncertain. (Associated Press)

Officials on Cape Cod are cautiously optimistic about having a good summer season. (WBUR)

Peabody residents unsuccessfully sue the City Council to get them to stop holding public meetings via Zoom. (The Salem News)

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is demanding an apology from the director of a farmer’s market who posted on Facebook asking parents not to bring their children to the market. (MassLive)

Staffing concerns at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home predated the coronavirus outbreak. (MassLive)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

There have now been 17 cases reported in Massachusetts of a pediatric disease linked to COVID-19. (The Salem News)

The field hospital at the DCU Center in Worcester will close by the end of the day on Wednesday. (Telegram & Gazette)

Drs. Jeff Markuns and Suki Tepperberg are worried about a second surge of COVID-19. (CommonWealth)

In a new study of COVID-19 patients in New York, more than 80 percent of those over 80 years old who were put on ventilators did not survive, a finding that the lead author says should be shared with elderly patients and their families in deciding whether to be placed on the life-support devices. (Washington Post) Dr. David Duong, a primary care physician and internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, highlighted this issue last month on the Codcast.

A new study by Tufts University’s veterinary school finds that COVID-19 is unlikely to be transmitted from humans to animals. (Telegram & Gazette)

Boston Children’s Hospital CEO Sandra Fenwick outlines what’s known and not known about the COVID-19-related syndrome being seen in children. (Boston Globe)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Dr. N. Stuart Harris says science isn’t liberal or conservative, red or blue. He says Dr. Rick Bright personifies that view and should be reinstated as head of a federal biomedical agency. (CommonWealth)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Harvard Medical School professor William Haseltine blasts Massachusetts-based Moderna for boosting its stock with a press release highlighting promising results from its COVID-19 vaccine trial. (Washington Post)

Boston Fed chief Eric Rosengren says double-digit unemployment is likely to be here at least through 2020. (Boston Globe)

Hair salons and barbershops are figuring out how to reinvent themselves amid closures and now new safety guidelines. (MassLive)

Tom Brady releases a second snake oil potionimmunity supplement” amidst the pandemic. (Boston.com) 

EDUCATION

WGBH continues its series on special education instruction during the pandemic.

Boston College says it will hold fall semester classes on campus. (Boston Globe)

Some activists are saying the pandemic is grounds for revisiting an agreement struck in March between the state education commissioner and the Boston Public Schools for joint oversight of the struggling district. (Bay State Banner)

ARTS/CULTURE

Boston is launching a $1.2 million grant program for artists of color. (Boston Globe)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A man released from the Berkshire County Jail last month because of a heart issue that made him vulnerable to COVID-19 is shot multiple times. The man had been awaiting trial on charges of kidnapping and assaulting a police officer. (Berkshire Eagle)

DigBoston explores remote justice during the coronavirus pandemic, and the pitfalls of online hearings.

Nearly 1 in 4 inmates has tested positive for the coronavirus at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater. (The Enterprise)

MEDIA

Gannett is launching a combined ad and news initiative on the reopening of the US economy. (Poynter)