3 Democrats make the case for being Maura Healey’s No. 2

JIM BRAUDE BEGAN Tuesday evening’s GBH debate among the three Democrats running for lieutenant governor by asking a standard opening question to candidates: Why are you running for this office?

But in the case of the state’s lieutenant governor, what he really meant was, why in the world are you running for this office? It comes with no prescribed powers other than serving on and chairing the Governor’s Council and stepping into the governor’s role if the state’s top elected official leaves or is unable to serve. 

A long-range hope to eventually run for governor themself may be hovering in the back of any LG candidate’s mind, but that’s not something any politic player would air. Instead, the three Democrats all made a case for what they could do as the right-hand deputy under Maura Healey, the presumptive Democratic nominee and strong favorite to capture the governor’s office.

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll played up her 16 years leading a Gateway City and the role recent lieutenant governors have played as the administration’s key liaison to local government. State Sen. Eric Lesser of Longmeadow touted the geographic balance he brings as the only candidate from outside I-495 as well as his background in the Legislature and former stint in federal government in the Obama administration. State Rep. Tami Gouveia of Acton talked up her background as a social worker with a doctorate in public health in pointing to her interest in pushing an agenda for those on the margins. “As great as we are and as well-resourced as we are, we are still leaving too many people behind,” she said of the state. 

All three candidates said the state should follow through with a 1986 law that is poised to return as much as $3 billion to taxpayers because of surging revenue over the last year. But they also all wanted to see the Legislature return to session to hammer out an economic development bill with further targeted tax breaks that got sidelined by unexpected news that the tax-cap law would be triggered for the first time since 1987. 

Their shared position puts all three candidates in alignment with Healey, who shared a similar take yesterday on the Beacon Hill tax talk. 

If there was anything close to a moment of tension in the very civil debate, it came when the candidates were asked what distinguishes them from their rivals. 

Driscoll pointed to her years in an “executive role” as mayor. “You’ve got to solve problems for people every day when you’re mayor. It’s a little different than when you’re in the Legislature,” she said. “Believe me – no slight, important role, but very different when you have to do, not just talk about things.” 

Her disavowal notwithstanding, the slight to the two lawmakers she’s competing with did not go unnoticed.

“I would challenge that premise,” said Lesser. “Because we‘ve done quite a lot that has had real impact on people’s lives on a daily basis at a massive scale, not isolated to one community or one place.” 

When asked about the obscure Governor’s Council, which must ratify judicial nominations, only Driscoll claimed she could name all eight of its elected members. (Braude did not put her to the test.) 

Asked what former lieutenant governor was a model for how they would serve, Gouveia pointed to Evelyn Murphy, who served under Michael Dukakis, while Lesser cited Tim Murray, a former Worcester mayor who served under Deval Patrick. Driscoll piggybacked on the answers and name-checked both former LGs.

Resurrecting a moment of state political lore, Braude asked Gouevia if Murphy’s role-modeling extended to a famous episode in which Murphy tried to redirect administration policy on a state budget issue as acting governor when Dukakis was out of town, infuriating the governor.

“Well, I wouldn’t go that route,” Gouveia said of the brazen power play. “As a social worker that’s not my style.” 

MICHAEL JONAS

FROM COMMONWEALTH

Orange Line shutdown: The MBTA is preparing for an Orange Line shutdown, perhaps of the entire line for a month. T officials were mum about the details, but the agency is facing pressure to increase maintenance work and repair badly deteriorated track on a stretch between Tufts and Back Bay Stations.

– The MBTA had been preparing to shut down a stretch of the Orange Line for a about a month between Oak Grove in Malden and Wellington in Medford but delayed that plan on July 27 to explore what it called “additional opportunities to accelerate work” on the line.

– The Federal Transit Administration has ordered the T to step up maintenance work across the subway system but particularly between Tufts and Back Bay Stations, where speed restrictions are in place for safety purposes.

– The MBTA plans to bus passengers on the Orange Line while work is being done. The T’s board plans to issue a contract for the shuttle bus service on Wednesday and Gov. Charlie Baker is planning to make an announcement at Wellington Station regarding n“accelerated infrastructure upgrades.” Read more.

Informal fix: Lawmakers and environmental advocates hope to win passage of an open space initiative during informal sessions over the coming months. The initiative, which would enshrine in law the current practice of replacing any protected public land lost for one reason or another by protecting an equal amount of public land, failed to pass in the marathon final session of the Legislature over the weekend. Read more.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

BEACON HILL

House Speaker Ron Mariano lashed out at Gov. Charlie Baker, accusing him of hiding knowledge for months that a 1986 voter referendum limiting tax revenue was likely to kick in this year. (Boston Globe

The head of the state’s police chief’s association says he supports changes the Legislature made to update gun licensing laws in the wake of the recent US Supreme Court decision. (MassLive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Worcester voters will consider whether to adopt a Community Preservation Act property tax surcharge. (Telegram & Gazette)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Massachusetts is set to expand eligibility for Health Connector insurance coverage. (Salem News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Voters in Kansas rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have said there is no right to an abortion in the state. The vote was the first on abortion rights at the state level since the US Supreme Court ruled in the Dobbs case. The margin was 59-41 percent. (NPR)

Alex Jones, who is being sued for claiming the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax, says his comments were taken out of context and he never intended to harm the parents who are suing him. One set of parents addressed Jones directly in court, accusing him of peddling lies to boost his radio show and webcast. “Do you have empathy?” asked Scarlett Lewis, whose son was killed at Sandy Hook. (Reuters)

ELECTIONS

Two of the three Democrats running for attorney general, Andrea Campbell and Quentin Palfrey, had not been paying for state-mandated workers’ compensation insurance for their campaign staffs. Both called it an oversight that they were moving swiftly to correct. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Firearms sales hit record levels in Massachusetts over the last two years, with two-thirds of the purchases being handguns. (WBUR)

More lab space is coming to the development boom along Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester. (Boston Globe

The Berkshire Eagle has more details on the planned purchase of the Berkshire Mall and its conversion into a marijuana growing facility.

EDUCATION

The Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute entirely waives all tuition and fees for the class of 2023 at its biotechnology academy. (Gloucester Daily Times)

TRANSPORTATION

Construction equipment derailed overnight on the Red Line near Quincy Center, requiring early morning riders to take shuttle buses until some repairs were completed. (WCVB)

Are bike lanes a path to equity and fitness for Mattapan residents, or an aid to gentrification? (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a sharp increase in high-tide flooding in Massachusetts next year. (WBUR)

 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A Worcester police officer pleads not guilty to larceny charges for collecting pay for assignments he never worked. (Telegram & Gazette)