Election 2012

Still Waiting for the Health Care Decision

By Bob Seay   |   Monday, June 25, 2012
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June 25, 2012

The Supreme Court health care ruling is now expected to come down this Thursday, June 28. While we all drum our fingers, law expert Renée Landers reviewed the four possible scenarios and explains the ramifications of each. 

This Week in State Politics: The President and an Eastie Casino

By Sarah Birnbaum   |   Monday, June 25, 2012
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June 25, 2012

BOSTON — On June 25, President Barack Obama will attend a campaign fundraiser at Boston’s Symphony Hall. The event comes at a tough time for the Obama campaign. Republican Mitt Romney outraised Obama in May. It was the first time he had done so. And outside groups supporting Romney spent $16 million on ads slamming Obama in the swing states. The president will attend two more fundraisers in the Bay State before heading out.
Also on June 25, opponents of a casino at East Boston’s Suffolk Downs will hold a community meeting. Developers want to build a 300-room hotel and resort casino at the thoroughbred racing track. Supporters say it will create 2,500 construction jobs and 4,000 resort jobs. But opponents fear increased crime, traffic congestion and reduced property values.
And on June 26, state officials are planning to break ground on a $106 million Hollywood-like studio complex at the former military base in Devens. The state announced $5 million in tax-increment financing for the project, which cuts taxes for the complex over 20 years. The fully occupied complex is expected to host 800 jobs.

Candidates' Democrat History an Issue in GOP Race

By Adam Reilly   |   Thursday, June 21, 2012
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June 21, 2012

BOSTON — As longtime Democratic incumbent Barney Frank prepares to retire from his 4th Congressional District seat, the favorite to replace him is likely Democratic nominee Joe Kennedy III. For a Republican to have a chance against Kennedy, they’ll need to ignite GOP passions the way Scott Brown did before winning election to the Senate in 2010. But mudslinging between the top two GOP contenders could make that unlikely.
Two years ago, Republican Sean Bielat mounted an impressive challenge to Frank. Now he’s running again — and trying to fight off fellow Republican Elizabeth Childs, who served as Mitt Romney’s commissioner of mental health.
To hear Bielat tell it, though, Childs doesn’t really belong in the GOP. As he told New England Cable News earlier this month: “You know, I don’t know to what extent a lot of people would consider her a Republican.“
She says operative, he says intern
That’s because Childs left the GOP in the 1980s and voted in the state’s Democratic primary just 2 years ago. But Bielat’s attacks raised Childs’ hackles — because Bielat is also a former Democrat. The day after Bielat put out a press release casting Childs as a closet Democrat, Childs fired back with a release of her own highlighting Bielat’s work as an “operative” for the Clinton-Gore campaign.
According to Bielat, though, that characterization is a bit overblown.
“I think that if, while I was involved in interning for the ’96 Clinton-Gore campaign, someone had told me I was an ‘operative,’ I would have been extremely flattered,” he told WGBH. “I was a junior in college, the campaign headquarters was a little ways down the street from Georgetown and I interned there 10 hours a week.”
“The whole thing’s goofy”
Bielat did admit that, after graduating from Georgetown University, he did opposition research for Democratic politicians. But he said that in contrast to Childs, his dalliances with the Democratic Party were youthful indiscretions.
“It’s a false equivalency to say, ‘16 years ago, Sean did some stuff when he was, you know, 22, 23 years old — and 11 months ago I did something when I was 50,’” he argued. “It’s not exactly parallel. So it’s goofy. The whole thing’s goofy.
Childs claimed that explanation didn’t hold up.
“Well, he’s only a little bit beyond when he was a Democrat,” she said of Bielat. “He was a Democrat up until he moved to Brookline to run against Barney Frank, and worked — worked! — on Democratic campaigns, was steeped in that his whole life as a Democrat.”
Worried about abortion, but more worried about debt
Asked about her switch from the Republicans to the Democrats and back again, Childs said she left the GOP when the party became increasingly strident on abortion. Then, last year, she returned to the Republican fold after concluding that Democrats weren’t serious about addressing the national debt.
“The fiscal issues I decided were so critical that as important as the choice issue is to me, if our children don’t have freedoms because we as a country are broke, then frankly, we may have won a battle but lost the war,” Childs said. “And I wasn’t willing to do that.”
The sniping between Bielat and Childs makes for good political theater. But it could leave the party with a nominee who’s incapable of exciting the Republican base. One beneficiary of this bickering could be David Steinhof, a Fall River dentist who’s also seeking the Republican nomination and calls himself the “conservative choice” for 4th District voters. There’s just one problem: he used to be a Democrat, too.


Tonight: WGBY Hosts Senate Debate

Wednesday, June 20, 2012
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Scott Brown's Journalist Wife: A Conflict of Interest?

By Adam Reilly   |   Tuesday, June 19, 2012
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June 20, 2012

BOSTON — When it comes to journalists getting involved in politics most news organizations err on the side of caution, telling staff to keep their sympathies quiet. But when reporter Gail Huff asked permission to star in a pair of new ads for her husband, U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, Washington’s WJLA-TV said … go right ahead.

Huff may be a bit biased when it comes to Brown — she is his wife, after all. In several new campaign ads the longtime television reporter praises Brown as a model husband and fantastic father, saying in one, "If the kids had a problem they didn’t call me — they called Dad."

Huff’s praise could help Brown fend off Democrat Elizabeth Warren. But whether Huff should be a campaign surrogate at all is debatable. During Brown’s last campaign, Huff was at Boston’s WCVB. She didn’t campaign for her husband or even appear with him until election night.

After that race, she said, "What was hard was not to be able to be out there in public support — to say that this is my husband, I love him, I support him."

Now she’s making her support very public. And her current employer doesn’t mind. A spokeswoman for WJLA told Beat the Press, “We discussed it with Gail and we decided it was okay — she’s not a political reporter.”

But sometimes Huff’s general-assignment work does touch on political topics, such as the Occupy movement. In an April 5 story on police attempts to move protesters out of a park, she said, "All you have to do is look at the ground to see the problem. … We still have many tents here. They’ll have to go."

For the record, that’s the same Occupy movement that’s been praised by Warren and panned by Brown — proof Huff may need to do more to keep politics and her career separate. 

The panel discusses the question on Beat the Press.

Brown Takes Warren 'Heritage' Issue National

By Sarah Birnbaum   |   Thursday, June 14, 2012
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June 15, 2012

BOSTON — Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown is stepping up personal attacks on his Democratic opponent. After leaving the issue mostly to surrogates, he appeared on national television twice the week of June 11 questioning Elizabeth Warren's claims of Native American ancestry.

On Fox & Friends on June 14, Brown said Warren has a credibility problem.

"When you’re running for elective office, especially high elective office, you have to pass a test. And the test is about truthfulness and credibility and honesty. And quite frankly she failed that test as evidenced by her claiming to be Native American and her checking the box and making misrepresentations to not only Harvard but Penn,” he said.

He said the same thing on CBS Network News on June 11.

Warren defended herself on MSNBC, asserting that she does have Native American heritage but she never used it to get a job or a raise.

“This is how I grew up, this is my family. I’m not backing off from my family. It became clear I didn’t get anything for law school applications or from college or for any of the jobs that I was hired for," she said.

Warren has gone through a slow wringer over whether she inappropriately identified herself as Native American in order to advance her academic career. And while a Suffolk University poll in May showed a majority of voters don't care about her heritage, some party leaders have expressed concern that Warren's handling of the situation shows the dangers of putting such an inexperienced campaigner in a high-profile race. 

For months, Brown's campaign staff has been calling reporters and bombarding them with press releases pushing the Native American story line. But the week of June 11 marks the first time he took the attacks national in network television interviews. 
So far, Brown hasn't run any attack ads about Warren's heritage. And an agreement he signed with Warren back earlier this year bans third-party PACs from doing the dirty work for him.?. But as the campaign gets more competitive in the following months, Brown might have to go even more on the offensive.

About the Authors
Bob Seay Bob Seay
Bob Seay is the host of NPR's Morning Edition on 89.7FM WGBH Radio. He got his start in radio during college at WMUH, got involved with WGBH TV while in graduate school at Boston University and formerly hosted ME at WRNI in Rhode Island.
Sarah Birnbaum
Sarah Birnbaum is WGBH News' State House reporter. Send her a news tip.
Adam Reilly Adam Reilly
Adam Reilly is a political reporter and associate producer for WGBH's Greater Boston.


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