The Bay State Trump bump

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

                         “Antigonish” by William Hughes Mearns

Gov. Charlie Baker consistently polls as one of the most popular governors in the country, some heady stuff for a Republican in the nation’s bluest state. But can you imagine what he could do if his own party was more solid in backing him?

Baker, as expected, cruised to victory in his GOP primary race against conservative preacher Scott Lively, an acolyte of President Trump. But the margin of victory – Lively outpaced his convention showing —  raised a few eyebrows among watchers who see a Trump Bump taking hold of the state Republican party.

“The fact that a guy like Scott Lively, with zero money and even less media money, living above his storefront church in downtown Springfield, could throw a scare into the biggest Trump hater in the country (at least in the RINO bracket) speaks volumes about Baker’s feeble record,” wrote Howie Carr, Trumps most notable backer in Massachusetts. “Seldom has so much dough been squandered in a political race for such little result.”

Indeed, seeds of Trumpism were glaring up and down the Massachusetts Republican primary ballots Tuesday. Jay McMahon, a staunch defender of gun rights, rode to a 2-1 victory in the race for the GOP nomination for Attorney General on the wings of his promise to not only reverse Attorney General Maura Healey’s ban on copycat assault rifles but abandon her mountain of litigation against the Trump administration.

But the most telling sign of Trump loyalism in the state was the easy victory of state Rep. Geoff Diehl to take on Sen. Elizabeth Warren in November. Diehl was among the earliest to jump aboard the Trump Express and has never gotten off.

In a three-way race, Diehl rang up more than 55 percent of the vote against businessman John Kingston, who touted his own support for Trump and got about 27 percent of the vote, and Beth Lindstrom, a former aide to former governor – and future Utah senator – Mitt Romney. Tellingly, Lindstrom was the only one of the three who condemned Trump’s style of politics, saying that was not going to defeat Warren, and her 17 percent total showed how that take went over with Republican voters.

The Real Diehl has given no sign he’ll separate himself from the bomb-tosser-in-chief. In fact, that’s a part of his platform, the ability to access the White House and be part of a Republican majority to give Massachusetts a seat at the table.

But while a virtual arm around the shoulder of the president plays well with the base, it will be a tough sell in a state that Trump lost by 27 percent. And his favorability here has dropped from that high point. A Morning Consult poll shows Trump with a 62 percent unfavorability rate in Massachusetts compared to 52 percent favorable for Warren. If Diehl ties himself to that wagon, it will be a climb of Sisyphean proportions.

But many local and nationally see Diehl as much as a stalking horse and surrogate for the bigger party looking to soften up Warren through attack, attack, attack to make her a weaker candidate should she decide to challenge Trump come 2020. You may not hear his name from Diehl a lot, but Trump will be a presence between now and November.

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away…

JACK SULLIVAN


WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The Washington Post happened upon an advance copy of its star reporter Bob Woodward’s new book on the Trump administration, which portrays a White House in utter chaos, where aides steal papers putting forth edicts they deem ill-considered off the president’s desk before he can sign them — and he then doesn’t notice. The Post also has the transcript of a bizarre phone call between Woodward and Trump, where Trump demands to know why Woodward didn’t reach out to him for an interview but then discovers that Woodward did make numerous requests — all rejected by the president’s aides.

The first day of hearings for the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh exploded into chaos at the outset and didn’t get much better after that. (New York Times)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he will not seek reelection in February. (Governing)

CONGRESSIONAL RACES

Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley scored a stunning upset over US Rep. Michael Capuano. (CommonWealth) While Capuano lost his seat, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was the night’s biggest loser. How so? Let me count the ways, says Joan Vennochi, who ticks off all the races the mayor was on the wrong side of. (Boston Globe) Her win will be unsettling for other incumbent Democrats who could see challengers inspired by her run, says Joe Battenfeld. (Boston Herald)

With 99.6 percent of precincts reporting, Lori Trahan was leading Daniel Koh by 139 votes in the Third Congressional District Democratic primary. (MassLive)

Unlike their colleague, US Reps. Stephen Lynch and William Keating easily beat back primary challenges. (Patriot Ledger, Cape Cod Times) US Rep. Richard Neal defeated Tahirah Amatul-Wadud. (MassLive)

STATEWIDE AND COUNTY ELECTIONS

Jay Gonzalez easily outpaced Bob Massie to capture the Democratic nomination for governor. (Boston Globe) Quentin Palfrey defeated comedian Jimmy Tingle for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

Rachael Rollins won a five-person race for Suffolk County district attorney while defense attorney Andrea Harrington beat Paul Caccaviello in Berkshire County. Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan held off a strong challenge from Donna Patalano. (CommonWealth) Did former Berkshire County DA David Capeless’s handoff to Caccaviello backfire? (Berkshire Eagle) Former prosecutor John Bradley looks like he secured the 1,000 write-in votes needed to take on his former boss Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz, who he successfully sued for firing him for allegedly not contributing to the incumbent’s campaigns. (WATD)

Secretary of State William Galvin crushed Democratic challenger Josh Zakim, a Boston city councilor. (Gloucester Times)

LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS

Most Beacon Hill incumbents facing a challenge in the primary cruised to victory, but two key members of House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s leadership team were defeated. Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, the chair of House Ways and Means, was beaten by Nika Elugardo, and Assistant House Majority Leader Byron Rushing lost to Jon Santiago. Christopher Hendricks also upset  Rep. Robert Koczera in New Bedford by less than 2 points. (CommonWealth) Rep. Rady Mom, with some help from DeLeo and a crowded primary field, won with 35 percent of the vote. (Lowell Sun)

In other races, Natalie Blais of Sunderland, Mindy Domb of Amherst, Liz Miranda of Boston, David Biele of Boston, Michelle Ciccolo of Lexington, Tommy Vitolo of Brookline, and Marcos Devers of Lawrence all won their Democratic primaries for House seats and will face no Republican challenger in the general election. David LeBoeuf of Worcester won his Democratic primary and will face Republican Paul Fullen in the general. David Robertson of Tewksbury won the Democratic primary with 26 percent of the vote and will face Republican Pina Princivalli in November.

In the Senate, write-in candidate Jo Comerford won the Democratic primary for the seat vacated by Stanley Rosenberg; she will face no GOP challenger in the fall. Rebecca Rausch of Needham won the Democratic primary and will face Republican incumbent Richard Ross of Wrentham in the general. Deborah Rudolf of Plymouth won the Democratic primary and will face Republican incumbent Vinny deMacedo in the fall. Edward Kennedy of Lowell defeated four Democratic challengers with 24 percent of the vote and will face Republican John MacDonald in the general to fill the seat vacated by Eileen Donoghue. And Barry Finegold won the Democratic primary to reclaim his old Senate seat and will face Republican Joseph Espinola III in the general.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Two developers announced a plan to build a $650 million water park and sports recreational facility in Palmer. (Telegram & Gazette)

Framingham-based Staples is making a play to acquire an Illinois office supply wholesaler Essendant. (Boston Globe)

Theranos, the California blood testing company that triggered one of the biggest financial fraud scandals, will formally dissolve. (Wall Street Journal)

ARTS

Jamie Bernstein, daughter of the iconic composer, and Anita Walker celebrate Leonard Bernstein’s legacy in Lawrence, where he was born 100 years ago. (CommonWealth)

EDUCATION

Boston school bus drivers say the School Department and contracting company Transdev are responsible for missing buses and delays, not the union that represents them. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken offers support for the merger of Beth Israel Deaconess and Lahey Health, which would affect Addison Gilbert Hospital in her hometown. (Gloucester Times)

A new study published in JAMA says the rise in urgent care centers around the country has reduced the number of visits to emergency rooms. (U.S. News & World Report)

TRANSPORTATION

A structural engineer hired by the city of Quincy says the 70-year-old concrete piers remaining from the old Long Island Bridge will not support the new span planned by Boston to be built on the footings. (Patriot Ledger)

A new study says Boston drivers spend more than 500 days of their lives stuck in traffic, ranking 29th in the nation. Some folks will tell you they’ve done that in the last couple years. (Boston Business Journal)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

ABC Disposal, in a court battle with New Bedford over its contract, says it will no longer pick up recycling that contains forbidden items because of increased costs and restrictions stemming from the decision by China to limit contaminated recycled materials. (Standard-Times)

The ocean waters off of New England are warming at a record pace. (Associated Press)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

A Fall River pot supply shop owner has created a cryptocurrency called GanjaCoin he hopes will be used in states that have legalized medical and recreational marijuana but still have trouble finding banking partners because of federal laws. (Herald News)

MEDIA

Former CBS anchor Dan Rather and Elliott Kirschner pen a Globe op-ed in defense of a vigorous free press in the face of “authoritarian rhetoric” from an administration they say is steeped in “corruption and dysfunction.”