BOSTON (CBS) — Two State House News Service reporters joined Jon Keller to discuss state politics on Sunday.
Recent scandals may be forcing the Democrats to work double time as they prepare for upcoming elections in the state Senate.
“The Republicans are already pointing to it, we have elections in the fall, the whole state Senate will be up for re-election and there’s questions of [the Democrats’] ability to move beyond this and focus on policy issues as we head into legislative crunch time,” said reporter Katie Lannan.
“There is some plausible deniability here. Hefner was not a member of the Senate was not a staffer,” reporter Matt Murphy said. “[Democrats] have four months of trying to legislate with, building an agenda, building a record of accomplishments that they want to run on in the fall and if that ethics commission comes back with a very negative report against the Senate President, I am not saying it will but if it does, and that comes another month from now, it’s a further distraction and it could kind of derail a lot of the rest of the session.”
The Hefner saga is just part of the sexual harassment concerns on Beacon Hill currently. Will those dark clouds matter to voters?
Murphy said they might. “A lot of the members acknowledge that with a life in politics and on Beacon Hill, there is going out, there is after-hours things, there is socializing, and maybe the culture isn’t great. I think the Speaker was trying to deal with this and he got called out for using non-disclosures, he says those weren’t sexual harassment cases. But there are a lot of people I think who heard the Speaker a few months back say that he was shocked this culture existed, he didn’t know it, and I’m not sure that that rang completely true.”
According to Lannan, this goes beyond culture issues. Republicans could capitalize on the transparency and potential use of taxpayer dollars issues, as well.
One of Gov. Charlie Baker’s central issues while running was lowering RMV wait times. After last weekend’s closure and the new unveiling of the new Real ID in Massachusetts, wait times did not resemble what Baker promised.
“When we asked him about it this week, he expressed confidence that the RMV was going to be able to bring their wait times back down to what he described as the new normal but it’s certainly an area of vulnerability to him. It’s something that’s very real to people who are waiting in those lines and they’ll remember it,” said Lannan.
Jay Gonzalez, one of Baker’s challengers, tried to make optimize on the issue by bringing donuts to an RMV this week, Lannan added.
Murphy said, “It’s a tough stretch for the governor. I think the one thing he has going for him, at least with regards to the RMV, is he did run on fixing this, he had some success there in reducing wait times and if this does trend back towards the normal, people like Katie and I and maybe you, who haven’t been to the RMV yet, maybe they won’t remember that in November because they haven’t had to interact yet.”
Another issue the Democrats might be able to capitalize on while running against Baker is what’s going on with the State Police, said Murphy.
“We think of this hugely popular governor right now but he really only beat Martha Coakley by 40,000 votes so it’s true, if there is a blue wave in November, he may need to really solidify his base and these kinds of issues don’t help.”