Mass. Republicans continue to contest 2020 election results

DID YOU THINK the battle over the 2020 election was over? Think again.

This week, US Rep. Liz Cheney lost her position in Republican House leadership for rejecting former president Donald Trump’s lie that he won the 2020 presidential election – a position GOP leaders apparently agree with.

Closer to home, former 5th Congressional District candidate Caroline Colarusso indicated that she too is not giving up her stance questioning the integrity of the November election.

A Worcester Superior Court judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by five losing Republican candidates, including Colarusso, challenging the election results. On Thursday, Colarusso said the group plans to file an appeal.

“Our intention is to appeal,” Colarusso told CommonWealth. “In the judge’s decision, she glossed over the constitutional issue, which is the crux of our argument.”

The Republicans had argued that the state law allowing voters to vote by mail for any reason during the COVID-19 pandemic was unconstitutional because it falls outside the constitutionally established reasons for letting voters cast absentee ballots. Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin and the Legislature have maintained that early voting by mail is different from absentee balloting, so it can have different rules.

In her ruling, Judge Janet Kenton-Walker did not get into the constitutional issues, but found that the challenge was moot because the election was over and the law that allowed voting by mail was only put in place for 2020. She also wrote that the Legislature had a “rational basis” for enacting the law and acted within its authority.

But Colarusso argues that if lawmakers can bypass the constitutional requirements related to absentee voting for the pandemic, “they can do it for any reason they want.”

Colarusso said she thinks the 2020 election remains relevant for many people. She said Galvin still has not responded to concerns raised by Republican members of the Legislature’s Election Laws Committee about how vote by mail was implemented, such as whether there was adequate ballot security. She slammed Galvin for not answering questions about how many ballots were returned as undeliverable.

“I’m urging the state Republican Party to look back because how can you talk to anyone about running for office when they’re not confident that our elections are free and fair?” Colarusso said.

For his part, Galvin, a Democrat who reportedly is leaning toward running for reelection in 2022, is also seizing on the issue of vote by mail – but for opposite reasons. His political committee on Thursday sent out a rare press release highlighting statements Galvin made while being honored by the Longmeadow Democratic Town Committee discussing GOP efforts to obstruct voting and calling on Congress to allow voting by mail for any reason nationwide. “If you care about social justice and economic justice, or civil rights, the issue of voter rights is the superseding issue of our times,” Galvin said.

Colarusso won’t say whether she is planning another run for office (against Galvin, perhaps?). But clearly, many Republicans believe that contesting the 2020 election results remains a winning issue. 

SHIRA SCHOENBERG

FROM COMMONWEALTH

Shifting mask mandate: The US Centers for Disease Control said anyone who is fully vaccinated can shed their mask in most indoor and outdoor settings, but the Baker administration, at least for the time being, said it would keep its existing mask rules in place. Read more.

  • The new federal guidance means masks can come off in most indoor and outdoor settings, but they should continue to be worn in crowded indoor settings such as buses, subways, hospitals, and prisons.
  • Massachusetts requires masks indoors and also outdoors if social distancing cannot be maintained, but Gov. Charlie Baker indicated the state guidance could be revised soon. The governor theoretically could ignore the federal guidance, but that’s unlikely given that it comes from CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, the former Mass General Hospital official whom Baker has lavishly praised in the past. 
  • The new federal guidance raises a host of issues, not just about some settings (schools, for example) but about who would enforce and how they would enforce the new mask mandate. There is currently no way to verify whether someone has been vaccinated. Some have called for vaccine passes, but elected officials, including Baker and President Biden, have shown little interest in developing such a system. Businesses may have to step into the breach.

Opinion:

Issues of color: Marie Cohen, who writes the Child Welfare Monitor blog, takes issue with Sen. Adam Gomez of Springfield, who questioned whether David Almond would have been returned to his father if the father had been a person of color. “It seems likely that Gomez has been influenced by a dominant narrative that has taken over the child welfare world: Child Protective Services workers take children away from their capable and loving parents, especially parents of color, and often refuse to give them back.” Research, Cohen writes, suggests that’s not the case. Read more.

Gun blind spots: Jim Wallace, the executive director of the Gun Owners Action League, disagrees with the contention raised by Jim Jordan that Massachusetts has a blind spot when it comes to assault weapons — passing laws banning the weapons in Massachusetts but allowing Bay State companies to make and export them to other states. Wallace says the problem isn’t the weapons themselves, but the failure of society to deal effectively with people with severe and often undiagnosed mental illness. Read more.

 

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Boston Acting Mayor Kim Janey signs an ordinance restricting police from using tear gas and rubber bullets to control crowds. (WBUR) Facing heat from mayoral rivals, Janey also reversed course and announced the city will not continue to contest a lawsuit filed by a group of black Boston police sergeants who said the promotional exam to become a lieutenant in the department was discriminatory. (Boston Globe

Salem makes all of its ordinances gender neutral but balks at changing the word “manhole.” (Salem News)

Andover’s director of youth services is fired over unspecified misconduct. (Eagle-Tribune)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Only six communities are now considered high-risk for COVID-19 spread. (MassLive)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Progressive backers of Sen. Ed Markey are upset about his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (State House News Service)

Former Gov. Bill Weld joins 150 prominent conservatives threatening to leave the Republican Party or start a new party. (MassLive)

ELECTIONS

Retired Boston police commissioner William Gross endorses Annissa Essaibi George in the race for mayor. (GBH)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Troy Arms, a gun manufacturer located in West Springfield, is moving its operations to Tennessee, citing a “changing climate” for the gun industry in Massachusetts. The move will relocate 75 jobs and make a $7.2 million investment in Clarksville, Tennessee. (MassLive)

EDUCATION

Legal experts say colleges and universities could face lawsuits over their rules requiring students and staff to get COVID-19 vaccines before returning to campus. (Salem News)

Bus drivers resume carrying 600 students in Lynn on individual education plans even though the bus company says it is owed $1 million by the city. (Daily Item)

ARTS/CULTURE

The sale of Humphreys Street Studios in Dorchester raises fears that the property will be redeveloped and artists will lose their studios. (WBUR)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

While gas prices in Massachusetts are higher due to the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, panic buying has not occurred here. The pipeline is now up and running again. (Eagle-Tribune)

GasBuddy, which lets users search for the lowest price gas near them, quickly became the most downloaded Apple app in reaction to the pipeline cyberattack. (Boston Globe

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A Fairhaven selectman offers details about the assault charges that were filed against him and are now being dropped. They involve an altercation between his daughter and her friend. (South Coast Today)

The union representing State Police officers, which is suing over its claim that members are being shortchanged on overtime pay, said in a court filing that the situation threatens officer’s ability to “provide for themselves and their families” — though even the lowest paid troopers earn an average of nearly $94,000 a year. (Boston Globe)

A former Boston police officer and police sergeant plead guilty to an overtime fraud scheme at the police department’s evidence warehouse. (MassLive)

After 19 hours of deliberation without a verdict, the jury in the federal corruption trial of former Fall River mayor Jasiel Correia asked the judge for clarification on what constitutes extortion. (Herald News

PASSINGS

Spencer Silver, the inventor of Post-It Notes, died at 80. (New York Times)