Women haven’t come a long way in politics, baby

THERE IS A MINDSET that, with the extraordinary number of women running for office in local, state, and federal elections this year, it’s causing a problem for women’s groups and female voters who have to make a choice. (A Google search found no similar stories about the conundrum for guys when multiple white men run for the same office.)

That’s just one of the plethora of subtle and overt barriers female candidates have to overcome when running for office. More problematic, especially in the technology age in which we live, is the sexual harassment and abuse women candidates receive for being what they are – women and candidates.

“I often look at it and I’m like: ‘I know I should be feeling something right now. I know I should be feeling scared or angry or stressed.’ And it’s at a point where I can’t feel anything anymore,” Brianna Wu, who is running against US Rep. Stephen Lynch of South Boston in the Democratic primary, told the New York Times about some of the threatening and misogynist emails and social media postings aimed at her. “It’s almost like fear is a muscle that is so overtaxed, it can just do nothing else in my body.”

In a 2017 video put out by the Women’s Media Center of interviews with a number of women in and running for office, US Rep. Katherine Clark of Melrose talked about the “swatting” incident that resulted in police swarming her yard. She also spoke about having her face photoshopped on pornographic pictures.

“This is unfortunately a common experience but not one you should ever let silence you,” Clark says in the video.

The issue is coming to the forefront as a record number of women in both parties have won congressional primaries around the country. And the candidates on both sides who only share the commonality of gender say they have been subject to online attacks, off-line harassment, and sexist coverage that no one with a high level of testosterone would ever have to endure.

In Minnesota, for instance, Karin Housley is a state senator and former small businesswoman who won the GOP nomination for the special election to replace Al Franken, who resigned after sexual harassment complaints. But much of the coverage of Housley centers around the fact that she is the wife of NHL coach Phil Housley.

With the spotlight on sexual harassment in the wake of the #MeToo movement, it’s easy to think those days are behind us and women will get a level playing field to better represent their sheer size of the electorate. One would be wrong.

“For good reason, there’s never any shortage of telling stories about women being harassed on the campaign trail,” Brianna Wu said. “But I cannot communicate to you strongly enough: Over all, this job is fun. This job is exhausting, but this job is amazing.”


BEACON HILL

On a visit to the western part of the state, Gov. Charlie Baker learned that work on 39,000 telephone poles is holding up last-mile wiring for internet service in 53 towns.(Berkshire Eagle)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The husband of a former Rockland selectwoman, who resigned amid a tawdry sex scandal where an outside investigation concluded she used her position to coerce the town administrator to have sex with her, has taken out nomination papers to run in the special election to replace her. (Patriot Ledger)

A Braintree deputy police chief and an administrative official in the department opted to resign rather than face a disciplinary hearing stemming from an investigation into the disappearance of guns, drugs, and cash from the evidence room. The officer in charge of the evidence room committed suicide and the investigation concluded she acted alone, though officials were lax in their oversight. (Patriot Ledger)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

In the wake of the Michael Cohen case implicating Trump in a serious crime, Peter Lucas and Howie Carr give it their best “nothing to see here, folks,” while MIchael Graham implores Trumpkins, despite whatever they like about tax cuts, to face the facts. “Trump supporters, you know the truth. You know Donald Trump is a sleazeball who makes stuff up all the time and can’t be trusted with the church bingo fund.” (Boston Herald)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions apparently has had enough, pushing back against Trump’s criticism by declaring the Justice Department “will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.” (New York Times)

Trump once again waded into a racial tempest, tweeting out support for an alt-right conspiracy theory that white farmers in South Africa are being killed at an alarming rate with tacit support of the government, a claim that has little basis in reality. (Washington Post)

Scot Leigh says Republicans in Congress have to decide whether to side with Trump or truth. (Boston Globe)

Activists supporting stricter gun control laws, including a student who survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and the father of a student who was killed there, head off on a 50 mile march from Worcester to the headquarters of gun maker Smith & Wesson in Springfield. (Boston Globe)

ELECTIONS

The Globe calls Beth Lindstrom the “clear GOP choice” in the three-way Republican primary for US Senate.

Dan Koh has a small lead in the latest poll of the 10-way Democratic primary fight for Congress in the Merrimack Valley, but nearly 30 percent of likely voters remain undecided. (Boston Globe)

A national realtors’ PAC has poured nearly $300,000 into the 7th Congressional District race on behalf of incumbent Michael Capuano. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Vikki Spruill, the new CEO of the New England Aquarium, is ready to tangle with developer Don Chiofaro over his proposed tower next door. (Boston Globe)

With two out of three homes having pets and veterinary bills on the rise, premiums for pet health insurance broke the $1 billion mark last year for the first time. (Wall Street Journal)

ARTS

Anita Walker, the head of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, drives a rented Prius and gets free parking for it courtesy of taxpayers. (Boston Herald)

Netflix appears to be preparing to shoot a series in Lancaster and Ayer. (Lowell Sun)

EDUCATION

The Dorchester Reporter takes a tour of the new freshman dorms at UMass Boston — and the views are spectacular.

The Boston nonprofit College Bound Dorchester honors 66 ex-gang members for receiving their GED; 44 of them will begin college this fall. (Boston Globe) Here’s a CommonWealth interview from last fall with one former gang member in the program who traded guns for college classes.

College of the Holy Cross in Worcester and Oberlin College in Ohio have cut ties with noted organist James David Christie in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct dating back several decades. (Boston Globe)

Two Fall River city councilors are pushing back against an agreement city officials came to with the Atlantis Charter School to ease traffic concerns at the school’s new 43-acre campus. (Herald News)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

With reports round the country of young student-athletes dying from undetected heart problems during games and practices, Abington High School will offer free heart screenings to all students this year. (The Enterprise)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Environmental advocates and the region’s power generators say the Massachusetts contract for hydro-electricity from Hydro-Quebec could end up increasing greenhouse gas emissions rather than reducing them. Hydro-Quebec insists the claims are hogwash.This story explains what the fight is all about. (CommonWealth)

Sewage spills into the Merrimack River during heavy rains in mid-August were much larger than earlier reported. (Eagle-Tribune)

Pilgrim nuclear power plant was reduced to less than half its operating power because of high winds and water temperatures. (Cape Cod Times)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

MGM Springfield, preparing to open on Friday, has feisty words for its Connecticut rivals. (CommonWealth) A Western Mass Policy & Insight editorial is skeptical the new casino will give a lift to struggling Springfield.

The Cannabis Control Commission voted 4-1 not to review financial agreements between municipalities and marijuana establishments to see if they comply with state law. Opponents said the commission had no authority to reject the agreements, while the lone supporter, Shaleen Title, said the decision means deep-pocketed larger operators will gain a huge advantage. (MassLive) The commission also approved two laboratories to test recreational marijuana, but sales of pot still appear to be months away. (Gloucester Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A joint federal-local drug sweep results in the arrest of 29 people, including a Walsh administration employee who formerly served on the staff of City Councilor Michelle Wu. (Boston Globe)

A foundation paid off the mortgage on the Hanover home of slain Weymouth police officer Michael Chesna and his wife Cindy Chesna. (Boston Globe)