Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll joins surge of lieutenant governor hopefuls
Rarely have so many been so eager to win an office with so few powers accorded to it.
Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll announced her run for lieutenant governor yesterday, making her the fifth Democrat in a race that is often more of an afterthought than a high-visibility statewide contest.
Driscoll has long been eyed as a potential statewide candidate. She considered challenging then-US Sen. Scott Brown in 2012 and was encouraged to run for governor in 2014.
With yesterday’s announcement, the long-time municipal leader finally pulled the trigger on a statewide run, but she is setting her sights considerably lower than the US Senate or the governor’s corner office.
The surge of interest in the LG’s post has become the punch-line provoking oddity of the still-forming 2022 election field.
“I can’t remember the last time this many people were so interested in chairing the Governor’s Council,” tweeted Dorchester Reporter managing editor Gin Dumcius after news of Driscoll’s announcement.
Apart from assuming the duties of governor if the top official is out of state, becomes incapacitated, or resigns, the lieutenant governor’s only statutorily prescribed power is the often unenviable task of chairing meetings of the sometimes unruly Governor’s Council, which must approve judicial nominations.
It’s almost a given that people run for lieutenant governor as a stepping stone to higher office, though more often than not it hasn’t turned out that way.
While the job doesn’t come with clearly delineated authority, the LG can play an important role in state government – depending on the amount of responsibility the governor wants to delegate to the person. While voters in party primaries separately choose nominees for governor and lieutenant governor, that hasn’t stopped some candidates from forming unofficial slates. Most notably in recent decades was the pairing of Bill Weld for governor and Paul Cellucci for lieutenant governor on the Republicans’ winning 1990 ticket. Cellucci, a longtime state lawmaker, proved to be a valuable bridge for the administration to legislators and local officials for Weld, who had no real ties to those worlds.
Tim Murray, the one-time mayor of Worcester, played a similar role as LG for Deval Patrick, and current Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito has continued that pattern as the Baker administration’s liaison to local leaders.
Driscoll quickly seemed to position herself as the LG candidate best able to take up that role, touting her deep background in local government. “The experience at the municipal level is different. There’s no hiding in a job like this,” said Driscoll, who was just sworn in to her fifth four-year term as mayor. “Somebody has to act locally. I think that’s where I can be helpful. I know that world.”
It has been 40 years since either party had five candidates on the ballot for lieutenant governor. John Kerry emerged victorious from the crowded five-way 1982 Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, going on to be elected that November on a ticket with Michael Dukakis.
His trajectory from that point on may be more the exception than rule when it comes to those who have held the LG’s post. But Kerry’s subsequent track record of election to the US Senate, winning his party’s presidential nomination, and stint as secretary of state is clearly the kind of upward mobility this year’s crop of ambitious LG wannabes are dreaming about.
Burning oil, coal: The New England power grid coped with cold temperatures and outages at several power plants and transmission lines by bringing additional power plants online and relying on oil and coal to generate roughly a fifth of the region’s electricity. Read more.
Baker faces heat: Gov. Charlie Baker and Democratic legislators clash on the state’s virus response, with the focus on mask mandates and whether policies should be set at the state or local level. Read more.
Sheriffs slammed: A report alleges Massachusetts sheriffs and sheriffs from around the country accept campaign cash from donors who either do business with them or could seek to do business with them. The report said $6 million, or 40 percent of all donations received by the 48 sheriffs in eight states, “create potential conflicts of interest.”
– The report lumps donations from sheriff employees in the conflict of interest category. It also includes donors based solely on their occupation, ignoring the fact that they may just be political supporters of the sheriffs.
– “We’re not saying that they’re violating ethics law or that they’re doing something that is an illegal conflict of interest,” said Beth Rotman of Common Cause, which wrote the report with a coalition called Communities for Sheriff Accountability. Rather, Rotman said, the report points to a “broken campaign finance system.”
– Sheriffs dismissed the report, saying it uses a definition of conflict of interest that is different from what is contained in actual law. Read more.
Price cap fight: The Legislature’s energy committee splits over a requirement that each successive offshore wind procurement come in at a lower price than the previous one. The Senate leader of the committee prioritizes price in a letter to the governor, while the House leader rolls out new legislation eliminating the price cap. The fairly arcane issue could divide the two branches even though they agree on the overall intent of the legislation, which is to invest in offshore wind and other renewable technologies. Read more.
Prisoners file suit: A federal lawsuit alleges brutal, violent, and racist behavior by correctional officers at the Souza-Baranowski prison after a 2020 altercation at the facility that left several guards injured. Read more.
Rapid test order: Gov. Charlie Baker prioritizes rapid tests over PCR tests, buying 26 million more of them for use in schools and at child care facilities. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Lawmakers are asked to consider bills that would let municipalities allow rent control. (State House News Service)
Massachusetts spent around $400,000 creating a new digital credential system that people can use to prove their COVID vaccine status. (MassLive)
An arbitrator rules that Methuen can refuse to pay city police officers astronomically high salaries based on terms in a contract that were only discovered after the contract was signed. (Eagle-Tribune)
City workers plan to begin taking down today the last of the tents that homeless people have been living in at the troubled Mass. and Cass area of Boston. (Boston Globe)
The Hinsdale Zoning Board of Appeals rejects a bid to turn a summer camp into an RV park, saying the massive development is out of step with the community’s small town character. (Berkshire Eagle)
In a huge setback for Cambridge-based Biogen, Medicare announced that it will only cover the controversial Alzheimer’s treatment for patients in clinical trials, declining to provide blanket coverage for a drug that the Food and Drug Administration authorized for the fatal illness. (Boston Globe)
The surge in COVID cases in the Boston metro area appears to have peaked and now the disease is in sharp decline, according to an analysis of Greater Boston sewage flows. “It’s unambiguously good news,” said one epidemiologist. (WBUR)
MassLive tells the moving story of the DeCelle family, where a father and his 11-year-old daughter were stricken with severe cases of COVID and hospitalized days before they both planned to get vaccinated. Both are now recovering.
President Biden calls for Congress to pass election reforms and says the Senate should be ready to dispense with its filibuster rule to get it done. (NPR)
Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards cruised unopposed to victory in a special election for state Senate. (Boston Herald)
Nearly 90 bars, restaurants, and private clubs ask the state Senate to legalize sports betting and let small businesses host sports betting kiosks. (MassLive)
An analysis from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council says strip malls could be repurposed into badly needed housing. (Boston Herald)
Tom Bernard, the former mayor of North Adams, is named president and CEO of the Berkshire United Wa. (Berkshire Eagle)
Gov. Baker has until Friday to decide whether to commute the sentence of life without parole for Thomas Koonce, a Brockton man convicted of a 1987 New Bedford murder. (Standard-Times) Globe columnist Adrian Waker says Baker should do it – and commute the sentence of a second man, William Allen.MEDIA
Dan Kennedy explains why acquisition of The Athletic by the New York Times could add to the crisis in local news coverage. (GBH)