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DeSantis rakes in Mass. cash

Presented by Delta Dental of Massachusetts: Lisa Kashinsky and Kelly Garrity's must-read rundown of what's up on Beacon Hill and beyond.
Oct 24, 2023 View in browser

By Kelly Garrity and Lisa Kashinsky

Presented by

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: DESANTIS’ MASS. HAUL — Ron DeSantis raked in more than half a million dollars for his presidential bid across two high-dollar fundraisers in Boston on Monday, his campaign said.

Dozens of donors shelled out more than $500,000 combined to meet the Florida governor at a lunchtime fundraiser hosted by Brian Shortsleeve, who managed the MBTA under former Gov. Charlie Baker, and an evening event organized by former congressional candidate and businessman Rick Green.

DeSantis also rubbed elbows with roughly 30 supporters — a mix of Republican State Committee members, GOP electeds and party activists — at a meet-and-greet with the MassGOP at Davio’s in Back Bay.

During the closed-door events, DeSantis made his pitch to deep-pocketed donors and would-be voters in remarks that covered everything from the Israel-Hamas war to the once-cursed Red Sox (he and his family visited Fenway Park on Monday). He even joked that Massachusetts Republicans are fleeing to Florida to escape the state’s high taxes, MassGOP Chair Amy Carnevale said.

Ron DeSantis met with donors and supports in Massachusetts as he looks to play in the Super Tuesday state. | Charles Krupa/AP Photo

But DeSantis largely shied away from mentioning the man that polls show he’ll need to beat to clinch the GOP nomination: former President Donald Trump, who spent Monday afternoon a few miles up I-93 in New Hampshire filing for the primary ballot and rallying roughly 2,000 supporters in a Derry sports complex. As Trump delighted in DeSantis’ slump in the polls and referred to him by disparaging nicknames, DeSantis mostly kept his differences with Trump to policy, one meet-and-greet attendee told Playbook.

Right now, Trump stands in DeSantis’ path to the GOP nod in both states. And the only way DeSantis — or anyone else — can win delegates in Massachusetts on Super Tuesday is if they can hold Trump under 50 percent of the primary vote.

“The question certainly came up about what the path is for him,” Carnevale told Playbook. “And he talked about it. Obviously he’s been focused on Iowa.”

DeSantis has made a show of recommitting to New Hampshire after not setting foot in the state for seven weeks. He will participate in a town hall there tonight with Gov. Chris Sununu (who’s not expected to make an endorsement).

The Florida governor also made clear he’s making a play for Massachusetts as he filed for the primary ballot here and taped an interview with WBZ. “This is a bit of tough sledding in a general election,” DeSantis said of this deep-blue state in a video posted on X. “But this primary is going to be very, very important. We’re going to put in the work and we’re going to get it done.”

It’s not just Trump, who’s won the past two GOP presidential primaries here, that DeSantis will have to compete with in the Bay State. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is now leading DeSantis on average in New Hampshire polls. And the former U.N. ambassador has a base of support in Massachusetts that includes former state GOP Chair Jennifer Nassour.

But DeSantis has built a network of supporters here that goes beyond his money men and is being shepherded in part by MassGOP Vice Chair Jay Fleitman and his wife, state committeewoman Mary Lou Stuart. While DeSantis’ campaign has struggled, his supporters here say they haven’t lost faith in the man who was once seen as Trump’s main rival for the GOP nomination.

“He’s my guy until he’s not my guy,” GOP state Rep. Kelly Pease told Playbook. “And I hope he’s the guy.”

As Carnevale put it: “March is still a long way away.”

GOOD TUESDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. Tips? Scoops? Tidbits from your time with a presidential hopeful? Email us: [email protected] and [email protected].

TODAY — Gov. Maura Healey highlights her administration’s efforts to lower housing costs at 11 a.m. at Yarmouth Gardens and 2:45 p.m. in Attleboro. Sen. Ed Markey speaks on phasing out fossil fuels at 10 a.m. at the Senate Hart Building in D.C. Secretary of State Bill Galvin testifies on a bill to protect the elderly from financial exploitation at 10 a.m. at the State House. Senate President Karen Spilka celebrates two years of the state’s PFML program at 11 a.m. at the State House. AG Andrea Campbell provides an update on her office’s investigation into Meta at 12:30 p.m.


A message from Delta Dental of Massachusetts:

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UNDER DISCUSSION — Massachusetts’ strained shelter system is expected to hit capacity by next week. But if the state’s top Democrats have an 11th-hour plan to create more space for migrant and homeless families, they’re keeping it close to the vest.

“We had some discussions about it,” Senate President Karen Spilka told reporters on Monday when asked about Gov. Maura Healey’s plan to effectively cap the emergency shelter system at 7,500 families and place additional arrivals on a waiting list. As for legislative options, Spilka said "we're open to possibilities."

Spilka, Healey and House Speaker Ron Mariano also discussed what will happen to the first family that’s turned away if and when the shelter system hits capacity as they huddled behind closed doors for a leadership meeting. But Spilka declined to elaborate, saying “details are being worked out.”

One thing the Democratic legislative leaders did make clear: they don’t think the federal aid the governor is hoping for will come, not with a still speaker-less U.S. House. Meanwhile, the Legislature still isn’t moving on the $250 million in supplemental state funding Healey is seeking to prop up the shelter system.

BY THE NUMBERS — More than half of respondents to a new UMass Amherst/WCVB poll believe federal officials are "most responsible" for the migrant and shelter situation. It’s a sentiment being amplified in a pair of new letters to the Biden administration and the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation from more than 350 community leaders who are pleading for more federal support for migrants.

The same poll showed 63 percent of Massachusetts residents at least “somewhat support” the state’s right-to-shelter law. Healey insists she’s not ending the rule by enforcing a capacity limit for the shelter system.


GO INSIDE THE CAPITOL DOME: From the outset, POLITICO has been your eyes and ears on Capitol Hill, providing the most thorough Congress coverage — from political characters and emerging leaders to leadership squabbles and policy nuggets during committee markups and hearings. We're stepping up our game to ensure you’re fully informed on every key detail inside the Capitol Dome, all day, every day. Start your day with Playbook AM, refuel at midday with our Playbook PM halftime report and enrich your evening discussions with Huddle. Plus, stay updated with real-time buzz all day through our brand new Inside Congress Live feature. Learn more and subscribe here.


WHAT SUPP? — There’s no timeline for when the House will consider the supplemental budget meant to close the books on fiscal year 2023. But the $250 million Healey wants to steer toward shelter services isn’t what’s holding things up, Mariano said yesterday.

“We can separate it out and still do a supp on the close-out," Mariano told reporters. "It's in the process of negotiations, but it's not holding up the supp."

The House and Senate Ways and Means chairs are negotiating the terms of the supplemental budget before it hits the floor, Mariano said.

— “Healey offers guidance to colleges, saying it’s ‘simply wrong to suggest that every student in Massachusetts begins from the same baseline’,” by Hilary Burns, Boston Globe: “Governor Maura Healey’s administration on Monday released guidance designed to increase equal access and representation on college campuses following the June Supreme Court decision that effectively ended the use of race-based affirmative action in college admissions. … Suggestions included improving the process of transferring from community colleges to four-year schools and to potentially remove obstacles such as application fees, early admissions plans, legacy preferences, testing requirements, and athletic preferences.”


A message from Delta Dental of Massachusetts:


BANNED — Boston PR guru George Regan announced that his firm is imposing a “hiring ban” on Harvard University students who supported a statement blaming Israel for Hamas' Oct. 7 attack and anyone who “protests against Israel.” (h/t WBUR’s Nik DeCosta-Klipa).

— “Boston City Council to vote on amended Mass and Cass tent ban Wednesday,” by Gayla Cawley, Boston Herald: “The amendments would eliminate a monetary, or $25, penalty for people who refuse tent removal, and directly involve the Boston Public Health Commission in cases where shelter space is unavailable, but the city must place restrictions on outdoor encampment activity for public health and safety reasons.”


ENDORSEMENT CORNER — Republican former Gov. Charlie Baker endorsed GOP state Rep. Peter Durant for state Senate. Durant is vying against Democratic state Rep. Jon Zlotnik for the seat formerly held by Democrat Anne Gobi. Former Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito has also endorsed Durant.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — State Sen. Liz Miranda is endorsing Enrique Pepén for Boston’s next District 5 city councilor, his campaign said.

ALSO FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark is endorsing City Councilor Jennifer Grigoraitis for mayor of Melrose, her campaign said.

ENDORSEMENT CORNER: The Boston Globe Editorial Board is endorsing incumbent Councilors Ruthzee Louijeune, Julia Mejia and Erin Murphy, as well as newcomer Henry Santana for Boston City Council’s at-large seats. Read about the endorsement.

— "Auchincloss launches reelection bid in Fall River," by Marcus Ferro, WBSM.


— “Washington held an election in which no one ran. Now it's unclear whether the winner will serve,” by Jane Kaufman, Berkshire Eagle: “No one took out papers for a vacancy on the Select Board created after John Fish resigned this summer. … On Saturday, 34 of the town’s 406 registered voters cast ballots in a turnout of 8.4 percent. With 17 votes, Michael Case, a former Select Board member, was the highest vote getter. It was unclear Monday whether he would serve.”

— “State education commissioner tells Holyoke contingent that ‘climate favorable’ to end school receivership,” by James Pentland, Daily Hampshire Gazette: “The state’s education commissioner recently told a contingent from the city’s School Committee that ‘the climate was favorable’ for ending receivership, according to committee member Erin Brunelle.”

— “Director of Amherst alternative policing unit resigns without explanation,” by Jim Russell, MassLive.


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— “Legacy of racist housing restrictions uncovered in North Shore communities,” by Chris Burrell, GBH News: “Hundreds of deeds for homes on the North Shore contain racist language or covenants, prohibiting the properties from being transferred to specific ethnic groups, according to recent research spearheaded by housing activists and a local NAACP chapter.”

— “Progress Worcester Super PAC: Donor List Public In State Filing,” by Neal McNamara, “A new political action committee with strong ties to Worcester's business community raised close to $50,000 over just a few weeks this fall, receiving support from business interests and politicians across the state, according to a report filed Friday with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.”

— “Larry Hogan says he’s withdrawing from Harvard ‘fellowships,’ denounces school’s handling of controversial student letter,” by Hilary Burns, Boston Globe.


PRIMARY PROBLEMS — Former President Donald Trump had a question for rally-goers in Derry yesterday: Is anybody here not from New Hampshire? About half the hands in the room shot up.

They can’t vote in New Hampshire’s GOP presidential primary. But Trump is far from the only GOP presidential hopeful luring supporters and curious onlookers across state lines. The man wearing a Nikki Haley-themed baseball jersey at a town hall she headlined in Exeter earlier this month? He’s from Massachusetts. The Democrat who keeps showing up at Chris Christie’s New Hampshire town halls? She’s from Maine. Several of the guests in the room at Ron DeSantis’ “Politics & Eggs” talk at Saint Anselm? From Massachusetts. And so on.


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TRANSITIONS — Kaitlyn Kenney Walsh has been named VP of policy and research at the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation.

NOTABLE ARRIVAL — Jon Donenberg will join the National Economic Council as a deputy director, CNN’s MJ Lee reports. He currently is chief of staff to Sen. Elizabeth Warren and has been “a key architect of [her] signature policy initiatives including her plan to cancel student loan debt.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — to Rep. Seth Moulton, former Boston Globe/Washington Post editor Marty Baron, Ernie Corrigan of Corrigan Communications, Matt Lehrich, Leigh Appleby and Michael Antonellis.

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].


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DeSantis rakes in Mass. cash


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