SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

June 14, 2013

Benton: Better week for Tebow than Baker

Nelson Benton
The Salem News

---- — Charlie, we hardly knew ye. Or perhaps voters just didn’t like what they saw in former Swampscott Selectman Charlie Baker who, despite running a credible campaign against Deval Patrick in 2010, is not anyone’s favorite for governor these days.

Baker has been deemed the big loser in a UMass-Amherst poll released this week testing the relative strength of potential candidates for the corner office on both the Democratic and Republican sides. He received only a quarter of the votes cast in hypothetical contests against prominent pols from the other party.

In contrast to Baker and despite his loss to Elizabeth Warren last November, fellow Republican Scott Brown continues to be viewed favorably by many voters. The poll showed him with a substantial lead in projected head-to-head contests with state Treasurer Steve Grossman and U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano of Somerville. And it indicated that at this point, a contest pitting Brown against a member of the state’s most prominent political family, U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy II, would be a virtual dead heat.

Grossman has already declared his interest in succeeding Patrick, who has said this will be his last term as governor. (Among those being mentioned as potential candidates for the treasurer’s seat in 2014 is Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll.)

Neither Kennedy nor Capuano, on the other hand, have made their intentions known.

Also included in the poll was Baker’s 2010 running mate, Richard Tisei of Wakefield. He didn’t fare as well as Brown but did better than Baker.

At this point, the contest for both parties’ nomination appears wide open with Patrick’s lieutenant, Tim Murray, having become a non-factor due to the bad publicity created by an early-morning car crash and his association with disgraced former Chelsea Housing Authority Director Mike McLaughlin. Last month, Murray resigned his post to take an executive position with the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Both Brown and Tisei are still smarting from their losses last fall. Brown was the incumbent senator who shocked the country with his victory in the special election for the seat long held by Ted Kennedy, while Tisei squandered what many considered the Republicans’ best shot in years at winning the 6th District seat in Congress.

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North Shore Congressman John Tierney, D-Salem, is teaming up with Warren in leading the effort to block a major hike in student loan rates due to take effect July 1.

Both appeared at a rally at Northeastern University in Boston Monday urging Congress to act. Without such action, interest on Stafford loans, which help income-eligible students pay for college, will double from the current 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

Tierney, a Salem State University graduate, is opposed to a bill passed by the Republican majority in the House earlier this year that ties the interest rate on Stafford loans to whatever rate the government is paying to borrow money currently. He calls it a “political ploy” and has suggested the government should offer students the same low rates it makes available to “Wall Street banks.”

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How big a story was the Tim Tebow signing?

BuzzFeed Politics reported Tuesday morning that CNN had broken away from President Barack Obama’s speech on immigration reform to cover Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s first press conference of the Tebow era.