The Codcast: Is change in the air?

Will this be a change election in Massachusetts?

A lot of political energy has been unleashed in reaction to Donald Trump’s election two years ago. Nationally, Democrats are hoping it will translate into big gains in the midterm congressional elections, with possibility of taking back control of the House.

In Massachusetts, where Democrats already hold the overwhelming share of elected offices, that energy and the appetite for change is mostly playing out within Democratic primaries, with several longtime incumbents facing serious challenges for the first time in years. The two most prominent races are the 7th Congressional District, where 20-year incumbent Michael Capauno is being challenged by Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, and the race for secretary of state, where 24-year incumbent Bill Galvin faces another Boston city councilor, Josh Zakim.

CommonWealth colleagues Bruce Mohl, Jack Sullivan, and I explored what’s going on here in a pre-primary installment of the Codcast.  

In both races, “it doesn’t appear there are huge differences in the political outlook of the candidates,” said Bruce. He pointed out that, for all her talk of change, Pressley is not talking about overhauling the way Congress works. She was a backer of the party establishment choice for president in 2016, Hillary Clinton, and worked previously for John Kerry and Joe Kennedy II.

Hers seems more an argument for fresh leadership and for representation that better reflects the state’s diversity — Pressley would be the first black member of the House delegation in state history.

Jack thinks Zakim has made the case that he’d operate the secretary of state’s office more aggressively, and has been able to paint Galvin as “somebody who has been pulled along by changes rather than really affected them on his own.”

Pressley and Zakim have their strongest appeal among more left-leaning voters, but the appetite for change seems to transcend ideology. The Boston Herald editorial page, which has taken a decided turn to the right, endorsed both challengers. The Globe delivers a split verdict on the change question, endorsing Pressley in Sunday’s paper and Galvin on Monday.

The outsider theme is also playing out in several legislative races. Two of the most prominent feature liberal-leaning minority lawmakers who have leadership roles in the House but are facing strong challenges in which their prominent posts in the more moderate House and loyalty to the tight-fisted, top-down structure enforced by Speaker Robert DeLeo aren’t playing well.

Jamaica Plain state Rep. Jeff Sanchez, who chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, is being given a tough run by Nika Elugardo. Meanwhile, Rep. Byron Rushing of the South End, who serves as assistant majority leader, faces two primary challengers, with emergency room physician Jon Santiago, like Elugardo, picking up the endorsement of some progressive political groups.

Both incumbents are trying to finesse a disconnect between the liberal leanings of their districts and the more conservative, tightly controlled House. While constituents in many districts might be cheered by the rise of their rep into a top leadership post, Sanchez and Rushing are in districts where, I argued, it can also be a liability to be seen as “overly tied to this calcified, top-heavy power structure in the House.”

Or, as Jack says, borrowing from perhaps the most well-known of the late Tom Menino’s archive of malapropisms, DeLeo is proving to be “an Alcatraz around their necks.”

Pressley’s social media tagline has been #changecantwait. In her race, as well the others, we’ll soon know if she’s right.

MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

The Herald continues to pound away at the story of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, whose director drives a state-leased car, with an editorial imploring Gov. Charlie Baker to rein in such perks.

Christopher Carlozzi, the Massachusetts director of the National Federation of Business, says Beacon Hill lawmakers have more work to do on energy. (CommonWealth)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Worcester is considering taxing multifamily residences with as few as five units at the higher commercial tax rate rather than the residential rate. (Telegram & Gazette)

Members of the Pokanoket Indian Tribe are battling Westport selectmen over temporary beach parking decals, claiming they should be given permanent permits because centuries-old treaties give tribe members unrestricted access to the town’s waterways. (Herald News)

Sudbury’s Conservation Commission granted conditional approval for Eversource to begin soil testing for its planned controversial nine-mile power transmission line between Sudbury and Hudson. (MetroWest Daily News)

Westport officials are looking for other uses for the high school when a new building is complete in a few years but they are constrained because the state will claw back its share of costs when a new roof was put on if it is not used for educational purposes. (Herald News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Trump vetoed plans for a White House statement praising the life and legacy of Sen. John McCain, choosing instead to post a short tweet sending condolences to the family when he passed away Saturday night. (Washington Post) Victoria Reggie Kennedy pens a tribute to McCain, who died nine years to the day after her husband, Ted Kennedy, of the same aggressive cancer of the brain. (Boston Globe) New Hampshire and McCain were a perfect match, writes the Globe’s James Pindell, and he reset the standard there for grassroots campaigning, holding scores of open town meetings during his presidential primary runs in the Granite State where any question was fair game.

A gunman opened fire at a video game tournament in Jacksonville, killing two people before killing himself in the latest mass shooting in Florida that has the state reeling. (New York Times)

Heavily Republican North Carolina approved a $15 minimum wage, leapfrogging Massachusetts and other states that have passed legislation to move toward the $15 level. (Governing)

ELECTIONS

The Globe endorses Ayanna Pressley, who was previously endorsed by the Herald, giving the 7th Congressional District challenger to US Rep. Michael Capuano the backing of both of Boston’s daily newspapers.

That fervor for change did not carry over to the secretary of state’s race, where the paper endorsed 24-year incumbent Bill Galvin, saying he’s been an honest and independent guardian of the state’s voting system, while knocking challenger Josh Zakim’s energetic campaign for going after Galvin “with more zest than precision.”

The Globe profiles Democratic gubernatorial candidates Jay Gonzalez and Bob Massie.

If you’d been wondering what happened to the insurgent campaign of Brianna Wu, the gamer guru who was prepared to turn her tech cred to politics to take on US Rep. Steve Lynch, the Globe caught up her fledgling effort.

Adrian Walker faults Suffolk County DA candidate Greg Henning for not attending a candidate forum last week because he objected to the yes-or-no answers the format required, which Henning said overly simplified complex issues. (Boston Globe) Henning has received the overwhelming share of donations in the race from police, a fact some of his opponents and others say is troubling. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

About 100 students protested outside Smith & Wesson in Springfield after a 50-mile march from Worcester to condemn gun violence. (Associated Press)

E-cigarette maker Juul denied its marketing campaigns have been aimed at teenagers but the Food and Drug Administration is investigating the company to determine if, like traditional tobacco companies, it tried to develop “customers for life.” (New York Times)

Developers are constructing mixed-use projects and reinventing the waterfronts that once hosted thriving maritime industries all along the coast of the South Shore. (Patriot Ledger)

ARTS

The Eagle-Tribune showcases 13 historic postcards from around 1935 showing images from Lawrence’s past.

The Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum in Adams hired a 23-year-old to be executive director. (Berkshire Eagle)

EDUCATION

The Saugus high school and middle school are adopting new schedules featuring fewer, longer classes each day. (Daily Item)

Two adjunct professors, Gregory F. DeLaurier and Laurel McMechan, say UMass President Marty Meehan is putting students and faculty last at UMass Lowell. (CommonWealth)

Harvard professor Susan Crawford makes the case for colleges and universities to develop “public interest technology” courses to close the gap between policy and technological illiteracy. (Wired)

RELIGION

A former Vatican envoy says Pope Francis knew years ago about allegations of sexual abuse by former Washington, DC, archbishop Theodore McCarrick and called for the pope to resign. (Washington Post)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The Department of Public Health ruled that an inpatient pediatric unit at Clinton Hospital’s Leominster campus is an essential service and should not be closed. UMass Memorial Health Alliance, which owns Clinton Hospital, isn’t budging yet. (Telegram & Gazette)

A new study that traced the effects of alcohol in 195 countries going back to 1990 determines that no amount of booze is healthy and details the effects heavy drinking can have on global rates of disease, disabilities, and death. (U.S. News & World Report)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Massachusetts is making unsteady progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (CommonWealth)

Cambridge is conducting the biggest test in the state of a citywide compost recycling program. (Boston Globe)

Despite claims that jobs in the booming oil industry are a pathway to success for low- and middle-class workers, African Americans comprise a fraction of the workforce and are paid on average 23 percent than their white co-workers. (U.S. News & World Report)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA 

The owner of the Humble Bumble store in Methuen is facing trial for selling marijuana without a license. She is accused of “gifting” marijuana to people who overpaid for other products, such as bath salts. (Eagle-Tribune)

The MGM casino in Springfield had a busy first weekend. (MassLive)

PASSINGS

American playwright Neil Simon died Sunday at the age of 91. (New York Times)