Tiptoeing through the Trump era

While Gov. Charlie Baker staycations in Gloucester, his former boss clued everyone in on one reason why the popular moderate Republican is sitting out the biggest fight in politics right now.

Bill Weld, who served roughly 1.5 terms as governor of Massachusetts two-plus decades ago, is challenging President Donald Trump in the Republican presidential primary. Baker is not.

“Part of the reason why I don’t have any problem or hesitation in running is that I’m not a sitting governor of a state who knows President Trump would try to defund every state program,” Weld said during an interview at a gathering of the National Association of Black Journalists. “That’s a bar for… Larry Hogan in Maryland. Charlie Baker in Massachusetts – he’s got enough stature to consider a national race, but he knows exactly what would happen.”

Big Red opened the window into his former cabinet secretary’s concerns in a conversation with Martine Powers, host of the Washington Post’s Post Reports podcast.

Weld’s hypothesis could be self-serving, and should therefore be discounted, because it would go part of the way toward explaining why Baker has not (yet?) endorsed Weld’s candidacy despite Baker’s myriad disagreements with Trump. But it makes sense, too. And it’s not just people running for president who Trump attacks with anything at his disposal; it’s also practically anyone of prominence who speaks out against him.

And if you continue Weld’s line of reasoning a little further, it could help explain why Baker posed for that awkward tarmac photo with Trump’s number two, Vice President Mike Pence, just a few weeks after decrying Trump’s “shameful and racist” attacks on four congresswomen.

The meeting with Pene took place in Nantucket, where the vice president was raising money for Trump’s re-election effort. Several miles offshore to the southwest of the island lies the proposed location for Vineyard Wind, which has been top of mind for Baker. The biggest thing standing in the way of what could be the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the United States is the Trump administration, which is conducting a review that could throw off the timetable and put the whole project in jeopardy. (It figures that renewable energy would be one big exception to the Trump administration’s economy-juicing regulatory relief.)

Baker discussed that stalled project – and the Trump administration’s proposed rewrite of NAFTA – during his meeting with Pence. Many Massachusetts programs also require federal permission. The state doesn’t just rely on the feds for funding. Given that, and Trump’s vindictive response to slights, it’s easy to see why the generally cautious governor isn’t tempting the president’s ire.

Weld doesn’t suffer from that type of hesitancy, and he was remarkably candid with Powers about his “perfectly legal” campaign strategy – to woo not just Republican voters, but also Democrats and independents who want to hinder the president’s re-election bid and are able to cast Republican ballots in open primary states.

“At a bare minimum, barest of minimums, I want to wound Mr. Trump in the New Hampshire primary,” said Weld. Though he is currently polling at around 9 percent to Trump’s 81 percent, Weld said the polls might not reflect his chances in open primary states “because the pollsters are not going to ask Democrats, ‘Who are you going to vote for in the Republican primary?’”

If Weld has any meaningful success with that strategy in the Granite State – where independents can vote in either party’s first-in-the-nation primary – that would presumably affect the crowded Democratic contest because voters can only participate in one party’s primary. The Republican primaries could get a little busier, too, as Joe Walsh, a Tea Party conservative and former congressman who voted for Trump in 2016, is making moves to get in the race.

Baker should have some time to ruminate on all of that and more during his summer respite on Cape Ann. Do you suppose it was Gloucester’s beautiful beaches and picturesque downtown that convinced Baker to vacation just four towns over from his Swampscott home? Or was it the allure of staying so close to the action while remaining just outside the frame?

ANDY METZGER


 

BEACON HILL

Not so fast: The Governor’s Council put the brakes on a routine approval of Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye to take over as Bristol County register of probate, calling for hearing on Gov. Charlie Baker’s pick, which has stirred questions about a backroom deal to ease the path for Republican state Rep. Shaunna O’Connell to run for the mayor’s post he’ll vacate. (Boston Herald)

A Globe editorial backs a statewide single-use plastic bag ban, but says lawmakers need to make fixes to a version of the bill that emerged from a Beacon HIll committee. 

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Ten of Boston’s 13 city councilors signed a statement decrying the federal extortion conviction of two aides to Mayor Marty Walsh, saying the Boston Calling case criminalized vigorous advocacy. (Boston Globe) Joan Vennochi calls their argument, and that of some 70 nonprofit groups that took out newspaper ads condemning the convictions, “a bizarre twist of logic” that condones threats from city officials as “an acceptable standard for doing business in Boston.” (Boston Globe

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

But what about Park Place? The New York Times chronicles the, well, absurd idea of Denmark selling Greenland to the US, and says President Trump joked in a meeting about trading Puerto Rico for the vast arctic country. 

A new Trump administration rule could allow the indefinite detention of migrant families crossing the border. (Vox

A visit to this year’s annual Objectivist Conference of Ayn Rand devotees finds the mantra of unbridled capitalism losing luster with younger Americans. “All the kids these days are becoming socialists and communists,” writes Alexander Sammon. (The New Republic

ELECTIONS

Environmental activists Craig Altemose, Deb Pasternak, and Varshini Prakash say US Rep. Joseph Kennedy III should stay where he is, and leave the fight for climate change to Sen. Ed Markey. (CommonWealth) Yvonne Abraham says Markey, champion of the Green New Deal, is the real deal and Kennedy backers have yet to explain why he should go. (Boston Globe) Michael Graham says you might as well put a fork in Markey, whom Massachusetts voters barely know despite his decades in office. (Boston Herald) Framingham voters have mixed views on the idea of a Markey-Kennedy primary tilt. (Boston Globe) Congresswoman Katherine Clark, who held a joint town hall with Markey on Wednesday, is remaining neutral while she waits to see what Kennedy decides to do. (WGBH)

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, who made climate change the focus of his campaign, is dropping out of the Democratic presidential contest. (Washington Post)

Former Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, who ended his presidential campaign last week, announced that he will be challenging Republican Senator Cory Gardener for a Colorado Senate Seat. (New York Times)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Local business leaders are mindful of a slowdown but not in panic mode over the prospect of a recession. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Three men are indicted in a wide-ranging UMass fraud scheme. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Mashpee police officers staged an active shooter situation Wednesday at a local middle-high school. (Cape Cod Times) 

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

With naloxone use on the rise, the number of opioid overdose deaths in the first half of 2019 dropped 11 percent compared to last year. (WBUR)

ARTS/CULTURE

The artist who drew a tattooed image of former Boston Celtics great Larry Bird on a building in Indianapolis has agreed to remove the tattoos after Bird complained he wasn’t a tattoo guy. (Associated Press)

TRANSPORTATION 

More than 50 cars could be trapped in a West Quincy garage for the next day or two as crews remove a dump truck that fell through an upper level and landed on at least one car parked below. (Patriot Ledger) 

A commuter rail train hit someone in Gloucester this morning causing lengthy delays. (Gloucester Daily Times)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Columbia Gas president Mark Kempic said the company has substantially completed the second phase of repairs in the Merrimack Valley, enhancing more than 3,500 properties and doing other work to mitigate the damage of last September’s fires. (Eagle-Tribune)

Wareham experienced a rare 2.0 magnitude earthquake on Wednesday. (Standard-Times) 

Congresswoman Lori Trahan and New Hampshire Congressman Chris Pappas call on the federal government to help with cleanup of the Merrimack River, which Trahan said will cost “billions of dollars.” (Lowell Sun)

MARIJUANA

WGBH uses data to show the upward trajectory of marijuana sales in Massachusetts and buyers’ preference for the flowery buds of the plant over concentrates or edibles.

New Leaf Enterprises is trying to open a recreational marijuana dispensary in Fall River, but the company has attracted criticism because the president, Pedro “Peter” Fernandes, is the brother of Mayor Jasiel Correia’s live-in girlfriend. (Herald News) 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The FBI accused Dana Pullman of running the State Police union like an old-school mob boss, complete with kickback payments to the union’s Beacon Hill lobbyist, Anne Lynch. (CommonWealth)

Taunton District Judge Michael Brennan ordered that Ivan Keith, accused of raping four women in Bristol County over a two-year period in the late 1990s, continue to be held without bail. (Taunton Gazette) 

MEDIA

The Boston Globe is launching a news coverage experiment in Newton using students from Boston University. (Nieman Journalism Lab)

Ethan Zuckerman, director of the MIT Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media, resigned in protest over the lab’s association with Jeffrey Epstein. (Boston Globe) And now a second researcher is cutting ties to the center. (Boston Globe)