With help from Lisa Kashinsky
KENNEDY’S GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGN — Joe Kennedy III is back on the campaign trail. Actually, he barely even left. After his unsuccessful bid to unseat Sen. Ed Markey in 2020, the former congressman founded the Groundwork Project, an organization that helps grow grassroots campaigns for Democrats across the country.
His latest project: The Organizing Accelerator, a 20-week fellowship for emerging social justice organizers from under-resourced communities. The program is a partnership between the NAACP and Kennedy’s Groundwork Project that aims to give 16 fellows from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to build connections and prepare for careers in activism and public policy.
Political battlegrounds are changing, Kennedy told Playbook in an interview. And the way Democrats go about organizing needs to change along with it.
“We lost abortion rights out of a court case from Mississippi. We saw voting rights attacked out of a court case from Alabama,” Kennedy said. “These places aren’t thought of in normal politics as battleground states.”
At the same time, “there’s obviously an extraordinary amount of talent in places that often get overlooked by the political establishment,” he said.
The fellows have their first in-person meetup this weekend at Harvard, where Kennedy wants organizers to forge connections they can carry with them outside the Bay State. He also hopes the fellows’ experiences might expose Harvard students to the lackluster political and professional opportunities available outside the “robust kind of ecosystem that already is prevalent” at the elite university. “There’ll be some eyes opened.”
NAACP President Derrick Johnson, who helped brainstorm the program with Kennedy, told Playbook that “at the end of the day, our goal is to bring communities together. Because we are all a part of a system we call America.” And “the more individuals who are empowered outside of traditional spaces, who can actually take on something and move to public policy, the stronger we’ll be as a nation.”
Kennedy has also jumped back into politics as special envoy to Northern Ireland, where he’s now President Joe Biden’s point person on coordinating a major new post-Brexit trade deal in the region.
But he’s not looking to campaign for himself again “anytime soon.” Kennedy passed on running for governor and attorney general after his brutal 2020 bout with Markey. Launching another campaign is “not on my horizon,” he said — even if a Senate seat were to open up soon.
That’s unlikely to happen anyway. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is actively preparing to campaign for a third term. Rumors persist that she could have a younger challenger. But Kennedy, who has some experience in this arena, isn’t rooting for someone to follow in his footsteps. “Senator Warren is a friend. She’s an extraordinary leader,” he said. “I hope and encourage her to keep doing what she’s doing.”
GOOD FRIDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. Your guests hosts are back at it! Email us at [email protected] and [email protected] and find us on Twitter @KellyGarrity3 and @sophie_gardnerJ. Email Lisa your tips and scoops for Monday at [email protected].
TODAY — Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll hold a ceremonial swearing-in for Secretaries Kate Walsh and Jon Santiago at 9:30 a.m. at the State House. Rep. Richard Neal announces federal funding at 11 a.m. at Bay Path University.
THIS WEEKEND — MassGOP Chair Amy Carnevale is on WCVB’s “On the Record” at 11 a.m. Sunday.
— “Boston’s COVID data continues to show ‘encouraging’ signs, Massachusetts virus cases drop 13%,” by Rick Sobey, Boston Herald: “On Thursday, the state Department of Public Health reported 3,356 virus cases over the last week. The daily average of 479 COVID cases from the last week was down 13% from the daily rate of 550 virus infections during the previous week.”
— “Healey tells business group no one will compete harder,” by Bruce Mohl, CommonWealth Magazine: “Gov. Maura Healey started stumping for public support for her budget and tax proposals on Thursday, with the message tailored a bit to each of her audiences. In a speech to 800 at a morning event hosted by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Healey talked broadly about her tax and spending proposals and emphasized her desire to make Massachusetts competitive with other states. … In an appearance on Boston Public Radio later in the day, Healey focused on the tax breaks benefitting parents, seniors, and renters.”
— “Healey rips DeSantis for ‘shameful’ stances on LGBTQ, Black education,” by Gayla Cawley, Boston Herald: “Gov. Maura Healey tore into Ron DeSantis, saying the Florida leader’s stances on education have been ‘really shameful,’ particularly his controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which the nation’s first openly-lesbian governor described as nonsense. In a Thursday interview on GBH’s Boston Public Radio, Healey said she would support Democrat President Joe Biden if he were to run for another term. She also characterized Gov. DeSantis, a possible 2024 Republican presidential candidate, as someone who wants to take the country ‘backwards.’”
— “Healey wants more housing. But how hard will she push communities to approve it?” by Andrew Brinker, Boston Globe: “Ever since word spread through Braintree of a 495-unit apartment complex proposed at the South Shore Plaza, an organized opposition campaign has been ramping up. … But in the background, one key figure has quietly been working to find a path forward: Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll.”
— “Number-crunching youth violence in Boston: Just how bad is it?”by Danny McDonald and Christopher Huffaker, Boston Globe: “As Boston officials wrestle with the best ways to reduce youth violence, new data show more students at public schools with weapons and more police activity at schools in the city, including private institutions.”
— “Tenants call for more radical rent control in 2nd Boston City Council hearing,” by Saraya Wintersmith, GBH News: “Thursday’s commenters insisted the mayor’s proposal be tightened to counter a rising tide of unaffordability by shortening the building exemption period and lowering the annual rent increase cap to a maximum of 5%.”
— SUFFOLK SPECIAL: Robert Orthman raised more than $20,000 in the first 36 hours of his campaign to succeed now-former state Rep. Ed Coppinger in the 10th Suffolk, he told Playbook. Tens of thousands of dollars are already flowing into the race: Bill MacGregor raised nearly $23,000 over four days, his campaign told Playbook earlier this week.
— “State Auditor DiZoglio launches audit of the MBTA,” by Taylor Dolven, Boston Globe: “The ‘performance audit’ will begin this month and cover the period of January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2022, according to a letter [Auditor Diana] DiZoglio’s office sent to Transportation Secretary Gina Fiandaca on Feb. 15.”
— “Mass. RMV workers took bribes in exchange for passing road test scores, officials say,” by Tristan Smith, MassLive.
— FRAMINGHAM FALLOUT: Embattled Framingham Democrats Chair Michael Hugo is stepping down following outcry over mangled comments he made about children with disabilities during a recent abortion debate.
“Upon discussing the issue with my wife, family, Senate President Karen Spilka, and various members of the Framingham Democratic Committee, I have decided that my resignation is necessary to eliminate any distraction from the important work of the local Democratic Committee, as well as the State Party,” Hugo wrote in a statement on Thursday, days after the committee voted against attempting to remove him from his post.
Hugo issued several public apologies but had until now resisted a growing chorus of calls to resign. He apologized again on Thursday, but this time, with prodding from Spilka, said that stepping aside is what’s “best for the Committee, my loved ones, my emotional and physical health, our cause and those I serve in my work.”
— “Senate Democrats urge Meta to halt plans to open metaverse app to teens,” by Jared Gans, The Hill: “Two Senate Democrats sent a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday calling on him to halt the Facebook parent company’s plans to offer a metaverse app to teenagers. Sens. Ed Markey (Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) said in the letter that they sent it in response to media reports that Meta wants to ‘draw in more teen and young-adult users’ for its metaverse offerings and open its metaverse platform, Horizon Worlds, for users ages 13 to 17.”
— “Elizabeth Warren Wants Biden’s Next Fed Pick to Counter Powell’s ‘Extreme’ Rate Hikes,” by Steven T. Dennis, Bloomberg.
— IN MEMORIAM: “Former Congressman Brian Donnelly dies at 76,” by Tanya Alanez, Boston Globe.
— GREEN GRADES ARE IN: The League of Conservation Voters released its 2022 National Environmental Scorecard this week and, for the most part, our congressional delegation aced it. The senators both got 100s, along with Reps. Jim McGovern and Ayanna Pressley.
The rest of the representatives — with 95s across the board — all fell short in the same place. They all voted for S.3451, a bill (now law) that expanded the expedited environmental review and permitting process to include certain computer-related infrastructure projects. In LCV’s eyes: “The bill places severe limits on government accountability and public access to the courts on the country’s largest infrastructure projects.”
TRANSITIONS — Joe Dillon is Biobot’s new and first chief revenue officer, Venkat Jaganathan is VP of product and Jessica Randazza-Pade is VP of marketing.
— Elizabeth A. Morningstar, Alicia Rose and Vincent D. Rougeau have been elected GBH trustees.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — to state Sen. Barry Finegold and Grace Nowakoski.
HAPPY BIRTHWEEKEND — to Jonathan Kraft, Rene Fielding, Henry Barrett, Deborah Ziskind and Bera Dunau, who celebrate Saturday; and to Sunday birthday-ers Lowell City Manager Thomas Golden, Josh Arnold, Sharon Block, former Gov. Charlie Baker’s ’18 campaign manager Brian Wynne, Chris Joyce, Chris Lane, Justin Backal Balik, Adam Boyajy, Tavo True-Alcalá and Tamsin True-Alcalá.
NEW HORSE RACE ALERT: ALL ELECTIONS ARE SPECIAL — Host Lisa Kashinsky breaks down Boston’s upcoming special state representative elections. The Boston Globe’s Diti Kohli joins host Steve Koczela to dig into why some Boston neighborhoods are recovering from the pandemic faster than others. Subscribe and listen on iTunes and Sound Cloud.
Want to make an impact? POLITICO Massachusetts has a variety of solutions available for partners looking to reach and activate the most influential people in the Bay State. Have a petition you want signed? A cause you’re promoting? Seeking to increase brand awareness among this key audience? Share your message with our influential readers to foster engagement and drive action. Contact Jesse Shapiro to find out how: [email protected].