Wednesday, July 21, 2010

CMass Senate Roundup...Rolling the dice on casinos

Catching up on the last few weeks of the State Senate campaigns...

First Worcester
Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester) said Monday that she will oppose any compromise on the casino bill that includes slot machines at race tracks. The orignal Senate vote was 25-15 in favor, so if racinos are included opponents will only need to switch four more votes. In last week's Worcester Magazine, Chandler also said she was concerned that a House provision protecting local theatre venues might be dropped, though it was not clear if she would also change her vote if that provision were not included.

Chandler was endorsed by MassEquality.

William Higgins (R-Northborough) was endorsed by the Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Worcester and Middlesex
Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster) told the Telegram & Gazette that race track slots were not a deal breaker for her. She was backed up by Democratic Fitchburg mayor Lisa Wong, who argued in the Sentinel and Enterprise that restaurants and businesses in Fitchburg should be allowed to add slot machines in the future if racinos are approved.

Three weeks ago, Flanagan broke with most of her Democratic colleagues and attended a meeting of the Twin City Tea Party. Conservative blogger DaTechguy was there to take video of Flanagan and opponent Neal Heeren (R-Bolton) and came away impressed by the Democrat:
Without a question Heeren was a weaker speaker, he had to refer to his notes quite a bit on opening and seemed very uncomfortable on stage, rather odd for a lawyer. On the issues he was more correct but you have to be able to make the case to people. That’s a skill he can develop but if Flanagan keeps showing up and manages to make credible explanation and presentations it will be harder for him.

This more than anything illustrates why Flanagan’s presence was smart! Rather than avoiding the Tea Party in fear she confronts it directly.
Heeren was scheduled to attend the Greater Gardner Tea Party event earlier this evening.

Finally, some guy named Kevin Lynch has been mounting an independent campaign almost solely via the Sentinel and Enterprise comment boards. Perhaps someone will tell him that as an independent, he still has time to get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin
Stephen Brewer (D-Barre) voted against the Senate's casino bill. The Springfield Republican called it a "politically difficult vote" because the Ways and Means Vice Chariman voted against Speaker Murray. Brewer explained his "no" vote to the Journal Register:
“The numbers just do not add up and cities and towns will end up picking up these extra costs,” said Brewer. As an example of how far short this number falls, Brewer said, at one point, the town of Palmer handed him a request for $50 million in mitigation costs.

“I am concerned that without first conducting a cost benefit analysis, as I advocated for, we may be getting ourselves into a situation that we did not intend,” Brewer said.
After eight years of trying, the Senate has finally passed Brewer's bill allowing police to arrest drivers involved in fatal or injury-causing accidents at the scene. Currently police can only arrest a driver at the scene of an accident if the suspect is under the influence.

Brewer also donned a 19th-century costume and delivered the Declaration of Independence at ceremonies July 4 at Old Sturbridge Village (at right).

Daniel Dubrule (R-Ashburnham) was scheduled to appear at the aforementioned Greater Gardner Tea Party this evening.

Middlesex and Worcester
Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) led the unsuccessful fight against casinos in the Senate. While he ultimately voted against the bill, he was successful in amending the bill to prohibit smoking in casinos. However, he was unable to convince senators that towns surrounding a proposed casino site should have veto power over the project. His amendmet to ban ATMs from casinos was also defeated.

Eldridge picked up the endorsement of MassEquality.

Selectman George Thompson (R-Westboro) spoke late last month at a forum sponsored by the Ayer Republican Town Committee. The forum appears to have made more news for who was not invited than what was said.
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