Episode 142: The Endorse Race

33 minutes

7/30/20--As election season bears down upon us all, applications for mail-in ballots should now have officially arrived at the residences of all registered Massachusetts voters. Biden said he will make his VP selection next week. Elizabeth Warren’s name has been bandied about as a potential pick, and if that ends up being the case, look out for what could be a very interesting special election.

A coalition of Black state legislative staffers are calling out the racist behavior they’ve witnessed in their workplaces and demanding reform. The staffers with the Beacon BLOC group on Wednesday wrote a letter to Speaker DeLeo, Senate President Spilka, and Secretary of State Bill Galvin outlining their demands.

As special guest co-host and State House News Service Reporter Katie Lannan describes, the group would like to see leadership "take steps that they say would make the State House a place that values and supports Black staffers.” As policy proposals aimed at systemic racism circulate through the chambers, the group addresses the idea that, as Katie puts it, “if you’re going to be talking about this stuff from a policy angle, you want to get there from a human resources angle as well.”

Strange happenings abound this week, beginning with an unusually early endorsement coming from The Boston Globe. The Globe endorsed incumbent Senator Ed Markey for re-election Tuesday. Markey’s up against U.S. Congressman Joe Kennedy III, whose team said the endorsement served as an effort to uphold the status quo for the paper’s “disproportionately white, well-off, well-educated readers.”

Politico Massachusetts Playbook author Stephanie Murray covered the development, and switches from her usual post as co-host to guest to weigh in. She says the campaign’s method of response backfired. “By choosing to respond to it in this way, it actually stretched coverage and conversation about the endorsement into another day.”

Speaking of endorsements, neither Kennedy nor Markey during this week’s debate were willing to endorse or disavow Governor Baker for re-election in 2022. Stephanie says, “To knock the popular governor right before the voters of Massachusetts are going to decide on you is kind of a tough spot to be in.” And popular he certainly is. The MassINC Polling Group finds 77% of Massachusetts voters hold a favorable view of Baker.

All is topsy turvy on Beacon Hill as the House votes to extend the legislative session beyond its July 31st deadline through the end of the year. Good thing The Horse Race is joined by state legislature expert and veteran State House News Reporter Katie Lannan to explain what this means for the high-priority policy proposals that have yet to be passed.

The purpose of the deadline itself, Katie explains, "is pretty much to insulate lawmaking from the campaign season, so you’re not campaigning by policy.”

“It serves as kind of the stopping point in election years in the second year of the session for major bills, things still get done after that point, but the controversial things are wrapped up before that point often at midnight on July 31st.”

The deadline has not been moved yet. So far, Senate has not voted on the measure. As to what the next five months will look like if the extension does go into effect, that’s unclear.

“This is really uncharted territory here,” Katie says. There have been suspensions allowing for more time for formal session in the past, but only in November in the first year of the term. To be doing it in July during a “weird and hectic campaign season” is new.

Major legislation that has yet to be decided, spanning topics from police accountability and racial justice to economic development to climate change to transportation. New MassINC Polling Group data finds voters are keen to see changes in transportation, and largely support new funds for that. Though political will for major transportation changes appears strong, exactly when legislation will pass remains a mystery.

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