STUDY IN CONTRASTS — Two contests that were supposed to be bellwethers for the direction of the state GOP produced two different results.
Donald Trump-endorsed Geoff Diehl’s 11-point victory over more moderate businessman Chris Doughty in the Republican gubernatorial primary put a hard number behind the state party’s perceived right and Trumpian turns.
Yet North Shore voters powered C.J. Fitzwater, a moderate Republican who supports abortion rights, to victory over Samson Racioppi, the leader of conservative activist group “Super Happy Fun America” who organized buses to Washington, D.C., ahead of Jan. 6, 2021, in a highly unusual state representative race.
Fitzwater and Racioppi were running as write-in candidates for the seat vacated by GOP state Rep. Jim Kelcourse, who left the Legislature for a Parole Board gig too late to remove his name from the primary ballot. Kelcourse won Tuesday night and now plans to withdraw from the November ballot, leaving it up to the MassGOP’s executive committee to pick the party nominee.
Chair Jim Lyons said committee members would choose whichever candidate won the write-in race. And so, in a unanimous vote Wednesday evening, they picked Fitzwater to run against Democrat Dawne Shand.
Fitzwater says that in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade it’s “important to elect legislators who are going to protect a woman’s right to choose” — though he acknowledges “that’s not a normal Republican view.”
While Fitzwater voted for Trump twice, he believes the former president lost the election and that it’s “time for the country to move on from the divisiveness” of 2020. That’s a stark contrast to Diehl, who Fitzwater said he voted for in the Republican gubernatorial primary, and who has falsely claimed the 2020 election was “rigged.”
Diehl must now wrestle with whether to keep leaning into Trumpism in a state where general-election voters resoundingly rejected Trump in both of his presidential bids. His Democratic opponent, Attorney General Maura Healey, is already turning Trump’s blessing of Diehl against him.
“Things like having the president’s endorsement help with Republicans in the primary, but my messaging has always been targeted towards that independent voice out there,” Diehl told Playbook ahead of the primary. He didn’t bring up Trump’s endorsement during remarks at his post-primary press conference, but faced questions about the former president there and in a GBH News interview in which he again said there was “rigging going on” in the 2020 election.
GOOD THURSDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. Former state Democratic Party Chair Phil Johnston predicted “peace would break out” after the fraught attorney general primary that divided the state’s top progressives and activist groups came to an end. It did and it didn’t.
To recap: Sen. Ed Markey, Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Attorney General Maura Healey backed now-Democratic nominee Andrea Campbell. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Boston Acting Mayor Kim Janey backed Shannon Liss-Riordan. Activist groups like Progressive Massachusetts and Our Revolution Massachusetts supported Quentin Palfrey — until he dropped out and backed Campbell, and they largely moved on to Liss-Riordan.
Wu on Wednesday praised Campbell as a “barrier breaker” who “represents the best of the city of Boston.” Healey and Warren also made nice on Twitter. And the Democratic nominee for governor later told reporters she’s “confident that we will find ways to all work together.”
But not all wounds have healed so quickly. Going off-script during her remarks to supporters Tuesday night, Campbell said: “For all those who felt re-traumatized by not all, but some, progressives, this victory is for you.”
And state Sen. Cindy Friedman, a Campbell supporter, told Playbook that she’s still “looking for an understanding” as to why Warren backed Liss-Riordan when “Andrea seemed to me to represent all the things that I feel like Warren would look for in a candidate.”
TODAY — Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announces grants at 10:30 a.m. in New Bedford and 1 p.m. in Somerset. Campbell is on “Notorious in the Morning” at 9 a.m. Healey and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll campaign together in Plymouth at 10 a.m. and at the New Bedford waterfront at 1:45 p.m. Pressley visits Community Servings at 11:30 a.m. Rep. Lori Trahan announces federal funding for Haverhill at 11:30 a.m. Wu attends a noon pep rally at Boston Arts Academy. Republican auditor candidate Anthony Amore and former Lt. Gov. Jane Swift hold a media availability at 3 p.m. outside the State House.
Tips? Scoops? Still tired from primary night? Email me: [email protected].
— “Healey inches toward historic first in Massachusetts as progressives get steamrolled,” by Lisa Kashinsky, POLITICO: “Alaska. Oklahoma. Texas. Arizona. Kansas. Iowa. They’ve all beat Massachusetts — which prides itself on its progressivism — to electing a female governor. But Massachusetts is now poised to join the club, and make more history along the way — one of several big results from Tuesday’s primaries, which also saw the Democratic Party’s activist left fail in a bid to elevate its candidates.”
Why did progressives fall so short in this year’s statewide races?
It’s complicated: Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu spent years building the name identification and infrastructure necessary for higher-office runs. But this year’s top-of-the-ticket candidates either lacked name recognition, struggled to raise the cash needed to compete in the super PAC era, failed to stand up substantive outreach operations — or all three.
To be clear, some of the winners of Tuesday’s primaries are progressives — they’re just not necessarily as far left as some party activists would like.
“The field of Democratic candidates for statewide office was exceptionally strong, diverse and progressive this year, so all credit to our historic November ticket,” state Rep. Mike Connolly told Playbook. But, he added, “super PACs and campaign finance can make it hard for truly grassroots progressive to compete. And Democratic primary voters have been saying for years now that they support the moderate politics of Gov. Charlie Baker.”
While statewide candidates backed by major progressive groups like Progressive Massachusetts and Our Revolution Massachusetts all lost or failed to make it to primary day, state legislative candidates supported by Progressive Massachusetts saw more success. Among the winners: Robyn Kennedy in the First Worcester Senate primary, Manny Cruz in the three-way contest for 7th Essex state representative and Samantha Montaño in the four-way primary in the open 15th Suffolk. Plus, leaders of both groups say, having Democrats on track to take back the corner office is better than more Republican rule.
— SPEAKING OF DEMOCRATS’ CHANCES THIS FALL: Sabato’s Crystal Ball moved the Massachusetts gubernatorial race from “likely Democratic” to “safe Democratic” in the wake of Geoff Diehl’s GOP primary win. Massachusetts is one of Democrats’ best chances across the nation to flip a governor’s seat this fall.
— DEBATING DEBATES (AGAIN): Diehl is challenging Maura Healey to three general-election debates. Healey said she’s game to debate, though declined to attach a number to it. Her campaign said she’s already agreed to one debate in late October and is considering invitations for others.
— “As gubernatorial fight begins, Healey and Diehl stake out familiar ground,” by Matt Stout and Samantha J. Gross, Boston Globe: “With their primaries past them, Republican gubernatorial nominee Geoff Diehl and Democratic nominee Maura Healey pushed into the general election fray Wednesday, making their opening pitches to the wider public responsible for picking the successor to Governor Charlie Baker. They sounded a lot like their old ones. Diehl, a Donald Trump-backed former lawmaker, stayed focused on his staunch conservative appeal, vowing to protect ‘individual freedom.’ And Healey, the state’s attorney general, doubled down on filtering her candidacy through pocketbook issues like affordability and job creation, investing in infrastructure, and pursuing tax relief.”
— “Leah Cole Allen wins the Republican Lt. Gov. primary after late call,” by Matthew Medsger, Boston Herald: “With 95% of precincts reporting and an over 10,000 vote lead, the race Republican primary race for lieutenant governor was finally called for Leah Cole Allen on Wednesday morning, more than 12 hours after her running mate’s race had been decided.”
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Healey isn’t done playing down the ballot. The attorney general has endorsed Kristin Kassner for 2nd Essex District state representative, Kassner’s campaign said.
— ENDORSEMENT ALERT: After falling short in their respective primaries on Tuesday, Republican running mates Chris Doughty and Kate Campanale issued a statement calling on their supporters to unite behind the GOP ticket.
— NOT AN ENDORSEMENT ALERT: Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito do not plan to endorse in the general election for governor “so they can focus solely on finishing” their time in office “strong,” spokesperson Jim Conroy said. They “congratulate all the winners” from Tuesday and “thank everyone who stepped up to run.” Baker has, however, endorsed and campaigned for auditor hopeful Anthony Amore.
— “Ricardo Arroyo concedes to Kevin Hayden in Suffolk district attorney race: ‘It is clear we do not have a path to victory’,” by Sean Philip Cotter and Grace Zokovitch, Boston Herald: “Ricardo Arroyo has conceded the Suffolk County district attorney race to Kevin Hayden, drawing a brutal primary slog to a close and giving Hayden a glide path to four years in the office — but not without some final turbulence. … Asked then if he planned on continuing the race via write-in campaign, [Arroyo] said, ‘I don’t think so, no.’”
— “Maps: Takeaways from the town-by-town results in Tuesday’s primaries,” by Christina Prignano, Daigo Fujiwara and Ryan Huddle, Boston Globe: “Despite a $9 million self-funded advertising campaign and endorsements from progressives like Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Senator Elizabeth Warren, labor lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan was defeated by former Boston city councilor Andrea Campbell Tuesday night. In fact, Campbell ran up some of her biggest margins in progressive parts of Massachusetts, including Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville.”
— “Democratic showdown for lieutenant governor reveals Western and Eastern Mass. are still worlds apart,” by Chris Van Buskirk and Alison Kuznitz, MassLive: “By the time it was all over, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll walked away with a significant victory over opponents Sen. Eric Lesser, a Longmeadow Democrat, and Rep. Tami Gouveia, an Acton Democrat. Her win was primarily built on the backs of voters in the eastern and central parts of the state — including Boston, Worcester, the North Shore, and a majority of the southeast — while Lesser won nearly every community in the western four counties in the state.”
— “Devaney narrowly retains Governor’s Council job,” by Shira Schoenberg, CommonWealth Magazine: “Incumbent Governor’s Councilor Marilyn Devaney narrowly edged out Democratic activist and attorney Mara Dolan to hold on to the seat she has held for 23 years. … A winner in the Democratic primary race was not clear until midday Wednesday. Dolan called Devaney to concede after 1 p.m. With the town of Southborough yet to announce its results, Devaney led by 1,440 votes out of 98,000 votes cast. With no Republican running in the general election, Devaney retains her seat. Dolan, in an interview, pledged to run again. ‘I will be back,’ she said.”
— “Tara Jacobs defies conventional political wisdom, stuns pundits with Governor’s Council primary win,” by Stephanie Barry, Springfield Republican: “No one saw it coming. Not her opponents. Not the pundits. Perhaps, not even Tara Jacobs herself. The North Adams School Committee member and community activist managed a stunning upset in the four-way, four county Democratic primary election for a seat on the Governor’s Council. She proved historical political truisms wrong: You can’t always drape yourself in political endorsements or buy an election to guarantee a win.”
— “State Senate nominee Robyn Kennedy receives support of opponent Joseph Petty,” by Marco Cartolano, Telegram & Gazette: “Shortly following news that former YWCA of Central Massachusetts executive Robyn K. Kennedy won the Democratic nomination for state Senate, she received the support of her opponent Mayor Joseph M. Petty. … No Republican candidate will appear on the November ballot. Lisa Mair of Berlin will appear as an unenrolled candidate.”
— “Simon Cataldo wins 14th Middlesex District Democratic primary,” by Scott Shurtleff, Lowell Sun: “Simon Cataldo has won the 14th Middlesex District Democratic primary by a wide margin over his fellow candidates. According to a tally of unofficial results released by the towns of Acton, Carlisle, Chelmsford and Concord, Cataldo received 4,565 votes, compared to Vivian Birchall’s 2,205 votes and Pat Wojtas’s 1,179.”
— “Coppinger locks down another term as sheriff,” by Christian M. Wade, Daily News of Newburyport: “Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger won another six-year term as the region’s top law enforcement officer in Tuesday’s primary after fending off a formidable challenge from fellow Democrat Virginia Leigh.”
— “Reyes, Payano and Paulino are winners in tight primary,” by Christopher Roberson, Eagle-Tribune: “Lawrence City Councilor Pavel Payano was elected as the new state senator for the First Essex District, receiving 51% of the vote in the primary. … Challenger Francisco Paulino received 53% of the vote to pull off a victory over state Rep. Marcos Devers, who received 47%. … With 51% of the vote, Lawrence City Councilor Estela Reyes secured a narrow victory in the state Democratic primary election for the new Fourth Essex District in the House of Representatives starting early next year.”
— “Tucker wins Dem primary for Essex County DA,” by Christian M. Wade, Salem News: “State Rep. Paul Tucker edged out James O’Shea in Tuesday’s Democratic primary to replace outgoing Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.”
— “Biden will speak about cancer initiative during visit to Boston next week,” by Travis Andersen, Boston Globe: “President Biden will travel to Boston on Monday to deliver remarks on a major cancer fighting initiative, the White House said Wednesday. … The president, the release said, will discuss ‘the Cancer Moonshot [initiative] and the goal of ending cancer as we know it. The President’s remarks, which will take place on the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s ‘Moonshot’ speech, will be held at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum’ in Dorchester. Before hitting the JFK Library, officials said, Biden ‘will also make remarks on the unprecedented investments in his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that are building a better America. This trip will be pooled press. Additional details to follow.’”
— “Baker administration to distribute 5 million rapid COVID-19 tests for Mass. municipalities and food banks,” by Nick Stoico, Boston Globe: “Five million free COVID-19 tests will soon be available to Massachusetts residents, including 1.5 million earmarked for food banks in the state, Governor Charlie Baker’s administration announced Wednesday.”
— “Michelle Wu: Orange Line shutdown an opportunity for Boston to redesign streets,” by Gayla Cawley, Boston Herald: “Mayor Michelle Wu said the disruptive Orange Line shutdown is also opportunity to pilot a new vision for city infrastructure that places less emphasis on car-focused streets and more on community spaces connected by fast, free and reliable transit.”
— “SJC considers lobbying by federal felons, like former House speaker Sal DiMasi,” by Shelley Murphy, Boston Globe: “Former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi began working as a lobbyist on Beacon Hill two years ago, just nine years after a federal jury found him guilty of fraud and extortion for taking bribes while in office. Yet, on Wednesday, the state’s highest court heard arguments over whether DiMasi, 77, of Methuen, should have been forced to wait a little longer to embark on his new career, based on a state law that bars people convicted of certain state crimes from registering as lobbyists until 10 years after their convictions.”
— “Holyoke chief rebukes city councilor for comparing police to a ‘gang’,” by Dennis Hohenberger, Springfield Republican: “Police Chief David Pratt labeled a characterization of police by City Councilor Jose Maldonado-Velez as a ‘gang that comes out in force’ both offensive and naïve. … The council was discussing a $50,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant that would partly fund ShotSpotter, a system that identifies where a gunshot originated. He said ShotSpotter was ‘predominantly targeting black and brown communities,’ initiating a police response.”
— “Oath Keepers membership: Leaked list includes 550 members from Massachusetts, including 2 elected officials, report claims,” by Heather Morrison, MassLive: “There are two Massachusetts elected officials listed as being members of Oath Keepers, a far-right extremist group, according to the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism.”
— “Brian McGrory to step down as Globe editor,” by Larry Edelman, Boston Globe.
— “Investigative reporter Kathy Curran joins NBC10 Boston,” by Dialynn Dwyer, Boston.com.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Joe and Nicole Caiazzo welcomed Alessandra “Allie” Caiazzo on Monday morning. Her parents are already preparing her for a future run for governor. Pic.
WEEKEND WEDDING — Former Joe Kennedy III campaign staffer Adam Buchbinder, senior director of sales at Listenwise, and Lily Guttentag, assistant director of development at Massachusetts General Hospital, got married over the weekend at the Boston Harbor Hotel.
TRANSITIONS — Vinfen has announced Jean Yang as its new president and CEO.
— Carlo Juntilla is now legislative fellow for Sen. Elizabeth Warren as part of the 2022-23 Teach for America Capitol Hill Fellowship Cohort. He most recently was a Fulbright fellow in Taipei City, Taiwan.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — to Jess Tocco of A10 Associates, Lenore Cho and Andrei Berman.
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