John Kingston’s War on Corn Dogs: Weekly Recap of Beacon Hill

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By Matt Murphy

Flip on the Red Sox game and there’s Lori Trahan, gabbing with Third District voters in a diner.

Turn on CNN, and you’re likely to see Governor Charlie Baker shaking someone’s hand, or wearing safety glasses and inspecting a piece of manufacturing equipment.

John Kingston hates corn dogs, and maybe Iowa, so much that he just throws the meat on a stick right in the trash. Fenway franks, apparently, are more to his liking, and he doesn’t appreciate Elizabeth Warren’s rumored designs on the White House much either.

There are two weeks to go before voters decide primary races on both the Democratic and Republican sides of the ballot, and the need for candidates to put their faces in front of as many voters as possible before September 4 is apparent any time you turn on the television.

As for those candidates who can’t afford to advertise, WGBH and Greater Boston host Jim Braude pitched in with a “debate week” that helped enliven a sleepy period on and off Beacon Hill when minds were more focused finding a beach without sharks in the water than how best to secure the southern border. (Kingston found a way to do both with a family trip to his timeshare in San Diego where he “toured” the border.)

All-in-all, the Legislature was quiet, the governor staged a few ceremonial bill signings to highlight opioid addiction and Alzheimer’s treatment legislation and the Gaming Commission watched as MGM Springfield’s ran dry runs of its gambling operations ahead of next week’s grand opening.

Baker officially, officially launched his re-election campaign last weekend at the annual picnic he and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito host in Shrewsbury every summer, essentially asking for four more years to continue what they’ve started.

For all intents and purposes, the Baker team is looking past the September 4 primary and conservative pastor Scott Lively, who is running a long-shot, shoestring campaign against Baker on a socially conservative platform that isn’t likely to get him too far in Massachusetts.

But that didn’t stop Baker from dipping into his sizable war chest this week to go on television with the first ad of the campaign: “Integrity. Leadership. Results. Charlie Baker,” a narrator intones.

Baker paid Jamestown Associates, a D.C. political ad firm, $1.75 million to help brand the GOP ticket, dropping his campaign committee balance to a meager $6.6 million, or 15 times the amount his closest Democrat rival has reported.

A model of a new Red Line subway car stole the show during a ribbon cutting attended by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday, August 14, 2018. Photo by Chris Triunfo/SHNS.

Jay Gonzalez’s campaign, which had $431,000 at the end of July, said it will not be going on television with ads before the Democratic gubernatorial primary against Bob Massie, opting to save its bullets in hopes of getting into the general. Gonzalez’s campaign manager Kevin Ready said instead, the campaign will be spending on field organizers and using social media to target voters in parts of the state like the Third and Seventh Congressional districts where they expect competitive races to goose turnout.

Massie’s campaign, with only $83,000 in the bank, probably couldn’t afford TV if it wanted, and also said it was focused on digital advertising.

But the two had 30 minutes in front of a camera on Thursday night with Braude where Massie played up his outsider persona and Gonzalez argued that his experience at the State House, in contrast to Massie, will help him accomplish more than just talk.

Gonzalez and Massie, however, used kid gloves compared with the body blows traded between Secretary of State William Galvin and Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim earlier in the week. Lest there be any doubt that these two candidates don’t like each other, they spent their first debate engaged in rapid-fire combat – followed up by attack ads from both campaigns.

Galvin, the 24-year-incumbent who says his opponent is unqualified for his job, revealed that Zakim didn’t even vote in the 2004 and 2006 Democratic primaries, despite spending his time criticizing Galvin for trying to suppress turnout.

The Brighton Democrat has also gone all in with an unsubstantiated theory that a super PAC called Forward in Mass, which has no known links to any campaign, must be there to channel dark money for the benefit of Zakim.

Zakim denied knowing anything about the super PAC as he and Galvin spent the week trying to one-up each other with competing pledges to limit outside spending and PAC donations in the closing weeks of their race.

The 34-year-old also tried to raise questions about the integrity of Galvin’s office and his ability to safeguard investors and elections after the News Service reported that a Cambridge man indicted by the feds in April for a penny-stock scam to defraud biotech investors of millions spent at least nine years working as a contractor for Galvin, and made fraudulent trades during business hours.

U.S. Representative Michael Capuano (D-Somerville) and his primary opponent Ayanna Pressley (D-Dorchester) tussled along familiar lines, though Capuano’s unearthed opinion of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his controversial tactics to draw attention to police violence against African-Americans caused a bit of a stir. Capuano said he thought kneeling during the anthem was divisive, rather than inviting of a conversation over legitimate issues, while Pressley said the times demand disruption.

Meanwhile, the reluctance of Kingston and state Representative Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman) to debate Beth Lindstrom over who could beat Senator Warren left voters trying to decide based on preference in processed meat.

The one man making news for the job he’s giving up, rather than the one he wants, was Tom Glynn.

Glynn, the chief executive officer of Massport, announced that he would retire in November after six years in the position, opening a coveted (i.e. lucrative) government job. Glynn’s annual salary of $289,000 and control over Logan International Airport and wide swaths of the booming Seaport District will make the competition to succeed Glynn fascinating to watch.

Commonwealth Magazine reported that early speculation on a successor was focusing on Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. While Pollack immediately slapped down the idea and was tapped to serve on the search committee, Ash – who was a finalist for the Cambridge city manager job – did not comment.

If no replacement is found by November 17, Massport’s chief financial officer John Pranckevicius will take over on an interim basis.

STORY OF THE WEEK: The campaign waters are warming, and they’re full of sharks.

SONG OF THE WEEK: Everybody wants a little a R-E-S-P-E-C-T.