Warren’s prescription for Biden’s blue-state blues

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LIFE RAFT — Joe Biden’s approval rating is already underwater across most of the country and is teetering on the brink in Massachusetts, a new poll shows. His onetime presidential rival, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has a plan she thinks could keep the president — and their party — afloat this November.

Biden’s approval rating is just 46 percent among Massachusetts voters, according to a new Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll. The survey of 765 registered voters also found that two more respondents disapproved of the president’s job performance than approved of it, leading pollster David Paleologos to tell the Globe that Biden’s “technically underwater” in Massachusetts just 18 months after he bested former President Donald Trump here by more than 33 points.

It’s not all bad: 75 percent of Democrats gave Biden a thumbs up. He’s above water with older voters. And that 46 percent approval rating is higher than his 41.5 percent average on RealClearPolitics.

But 52 percent of independents — the majority of the state’s voters — gave him a thumbs down. The president is underwater among younger voters, in this case those under age 35. And this is all in reliably blue Massachusetts.

“Biden won because he appealed to more independents than Democrats. So how does he get that group back?” Paleologos told Playbook, speaking of the broader midterm map. “This survey is instructive in terms of clearly identifying weaknesses. It’s up to his administration to come up with the prescriptions of what may work.”

Cue Warren. The senator took her midterm-agenda media tour to the local Sunday politics shows, saying that Democrats need to “deliver” on easing the pinch on Americans’ wallets — by canceling student loan debt, taxing the rich and corporations, tackling climate change and lowering costs for families — or “we’re not going to make it in November.”

Wiping out student loan debt could help Biden with the younger set. Eighty-five percent of young voters in the Harvard Institute of Politics’ youth poll released last week said they want some federal action on student loan debt, though just 38 percent favored full cancellation. Days later, Biden said he’s considering canceling “some” amount of federal student loan debt, though he was clear it won’t be the $50,000 that Warren, Rep. Ayanna Pressley and other Democrats want.

Warren says Democrats “need to act” to keep control of Congress. But delivering on more of their agenda means convincing members of their own party to fall in line. The stakes are getting higher as midterm primaries ramp up this month.

GOOD MONDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. Maura Healey launched her gubernatorial campaign not with a call for sweeping change but with a vow to “continue with what’s working and fix what’s not” and a heavy focus on the economy.

The Suffolk/Globe poll sheds light on why: Nearly 63 percent of voters surveyed want the next governor to keep the state on track, compared to just under 30 percent who want that person to “deliver bold change.” And voters want the next governor to prioritize addressing the economy, followed by housing and inflation.

Some other interesting nuggets: Healey and Democratic rival state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz both lead Republicans Geoff Diehl and Chris Doughty in general-election matchups, though Healey has a wider lead.

The attorney general’s margins are bolstered by independent voters — the same group that helped propel Republican Gov. Charlie Baker to office twice. And voters still appear fond of him: Baker would lead a hypothetical matchup with Healey and Diehl if he ran as an independent, the poll shows.

TODAY — Baker, House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka meet at 2 p.m. at the State House. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu speaks at the Success Boston Signing Day event at 9:30 a.m. in Roxbury and makes an announcement at the Boston Public Library at 11 a.m. Republican governor hopeful Geoff Diehl and running mate Leah Cole Allen host a media availability at 11 a.m. outside the State House. The Providers’ Council hosts a forum with six LG candidates at 12:30 p.m. in Worcester. Interim Suffolk DA Kevin Hayden announces the expansion of the adult drug diversion program into the “Mass and Cass” area at 2:30 p.m. at Bulfinch Place.

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— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Quentin Palfrey is ramping up his attacks on Andrea Campbell in the attorney general race, and is now calling on the former Boston city councilor to “shut down” the “Better Boston” super PAC that aided her mayoral bid last year.

Super PACs can’t coordinate with candidates. So Campbell can call on Better Boston to close up shop, but she can’t shut it down herself. That’s not stopping Palfrey from trying to get Campbell to denounce the super PAC, which can raise and spend unlimited sums, as he pushes her to sign onto his “People’s Pledge” to limit third-party spending in the race. Better Boston spent $1.6 million in the Boston mayor’s race, fueled by contributions from donors including charter school advocates and the CEO of Netflix.

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Speaking of campaign finance, Campbell will report raising $190,257 in April, with 93 percent of those donations coming from Massachusetts residents. She’s raised nearly $750,000 in the three months since she launched her campaign for state attorney general, with more than 94 percent of that haul coming from in-state, her campaign said. Her fundraising has, however, declined each month since her February launch. Her rivals’ April numbers haven’t posted yet.

— GETTING IN: State Sen. Susan Moran, a Falmouth Democrat, kicked off her reelection campaign for the Plymouth and Barnstable district over the weekend.

Jamaica Plain resident Roxanne Longoria, who served as director of youth homelessness initiatives for the city of Boston, is running for state representative in the 15th Suffolk district.

“New report criticizes tenure, oversight of Holyoke Soldiers’ Home official who presided over COVID outbreak,” by Travis Andersen and Tonya Alanez, Boston Globe: “The state inspector general on Friday sharply criticized the hiring of former Holyoke Soldiers’ Home superintendent Bennett Walsh, saying there were problems with his running of the facility well before a deadly COVID-19 outbreak ravaged it in March 2020 and killed 76 veterans. … Cunha concluded that Governor Charlie Baker, state Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, and the home’s board of trustees failed to follow the law that outlined how the Holyoke superintendent should be hired, Cunha added in an accompanying statement.”

“‘Damning lack of transparency’ on Massachusetts sports betting vote in Senate raises skepticism law will get on the books this session,” by Erin Tiernan and Alison Kuznitz, MassLive: “Massachusetts state senators kept their cards close to the vest when they finally passed sports betting legislation more than four years in the making this week, but as the bill inches closer to legalization, watchdogs are hedging their bets on whether lawmakers will cross the finish line this session. Progressive Mass Policy Director Jonathan Cohn called out a ‘damning’ lack of transparency that permeated the Senate debate on Thursday…”

“Mass. residents narrowly oppose allowing driver’s licenses for people without legal immigration status, poll finds,” by Samantha J. Gross and Matt Stout, Boston Globe: “In February, the Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill to allow people without legal immigration status to get driver’s licenses. On Thursday, the state Senate looks poised to do the same. But Massachusetts residents as a whole are not as enthusiastic about the idea. A narrow plurality of Massachusetts residents — 47 percent — say they oppose such legislation, while 46 percent support it, according to a new Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll of Massachusetts residents. About 7 percent said they were unsure.”

“Half of Mass. residents back public transit mask mandate, 41 percent against, new Suffolk/Globe poll finds,” by Matt Stout and Samantha J. Gross, Boston Globe: “Massachusetts transportation officials lifted a mask mandate on the MBTA nearly two weeks ago. That may have been premature in many residents’ eyes, according to new polling. A little more than 50 percent of those surveyed in a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll said they think people riding the subway, trains, and public buses in Massachusetts should be required to wear face coverings, with opinions shifting dramatically by party and region. About 41 percent said they should not be required, while nearly 9 percent said they were undecided, according to the poll of 800 residents.”

“Wu administration touts decisions by labor board on vaccine cases,” by Sean Philip Cotter, Boston Herald: “Boston is declaring victory in the fight over collective bargaining issues over vaccinations after the state Department of Labor Relations largely sided with Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration in continuing to dismiss complaints. The state’s DLR threw out the main issues in the complaint from the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation after making a similar ruling last week with the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 718. DLR investigator Gail Sorokoff concluded that the city was able to go ahead with implementing a vaccine mandate without bargaining it beforehand.”

“North End outdoor dining up and running after fight with mayor over fee,” by Walter Wuthmann, WBUR: “Dozens of temporary outdoor patios popped up across the North End on Sunday, after restaurant owners paid a new $7,500 fee to put out tables on public spaces. … But some restaurant owners are still challenging the new system. Monica’s Trattoria co-owner Frank Mendoza said he wants to take the city and Wu to court over the feel.”

“Boston Public Schools’ press office clears out,” by Sean Philip Cotter, Boston Herald: “Questions from the press are flying into Boston Public Schools on topics from the threat of state takeover to the apocalyptically bad independent report about a pilot school now set to be shut down — but the top two press contacts have left in recent weeks.”

“Boston Mayor Michelle Wu endorses east-west rail during Longmeadow visit; honored as Democrat of the Year,” by Jeanette DeForge, Springfield Republican: “Boston Mayor Michelle Wu declared her enthusiastic support for high-speed rail that would connect the state’s capital with Western Massachusetts … Wu visited Western Massachusetts on Sunday where she was named Democrat of the Year by the Longmeadow Democratic Town Committee.”

“City council race for Eastie, North End, Charlestown comes to a head Tuesday,” by Danny McDonald and Gal Tziperman Lotan, Boston Globe: “The special election contest that concludes Tuesday between Gabriela ‘Gigi’ Coletta and Tania Del Rio, who are competing to replace Lydia Edwards on the Boston City Council, has in many ways flown under the radar. … Coletta, 29, a lifelong East Boston resident, worked for a time as Edwards’s former chief of staff — the two met door-knocking for Barack Obama in New Hampshire in 2012 — and most recently worked as the external relations manager for the New England Aquarium. … Born in Mexico, Del Rio, 36, also lives in East Boston, where she settled with her family in 2017 after moving to the area to attend graduate school in 2014. Del Rio was most recently the executive director of the YWCA Cambridge and previously served as director for the Boston mayor’s office of women’s advancement.”

— North End restaurateur Jorge Mendoza is running a late-entry sticker campaign, the Boston Herald reports.

“SJC will consider challenges to all four ballot questions,” by Shira Schoenberg, CommonWealth Magazine: “State law lays out the steps needed to file an initiative petition to put a question before voters on the state ballot: get certified by the attorney general, collect signatures, go to the Legislature. What’s not included, but may as well be, is defend the petition before the Supreme Judicial Court. In what has essentially become a rite of passage, all four potential questions on this November’s ballot will go to court next week.”

“MBTA to unveil new bus network design,” by Bob Seay, GBH News: “The MBTA is preparing to unveil the much-anticipated redesign of its bus network, which it has been working on for the last three years. The agency plans to add new bus routes and increase the amount of service by 25% on weekdays and by 70% on weekends.”

— “Former prosecutor busted paying $40 for Methadone Mile prostitute, Boston Police say,” by Sean Philip Cotter, Boston Herald: “A big-time Boston attorney who once enforced the law is accused of breaking it this week when he allegedly was caught literally with his pants down on Methadone Mile with a prostitute — and then asking for ‘lenience and consideration’ after the $40 sex act. Bruce Singal, 73, allegedly told cops that he was a lawyer — but couldn’t get out of the arrest, according to the police narrative.”

“Stoneham police officer, brother indicted, charged with defrauding $36M from Massachusetts energy efficient funds,” by Flint McColgan, Boston Herald: “Stoneham Police Officer Joseph Ponzo, 48, and his brother Christopher Ponzo, 47, of North Reading, were indicted on one count of wire conspiracy and 12 counts of wire fraud. … The feds allege the brothers bribed an unnamed associate at a lead vendor for the Mass Save program in order for companies they control to get millions of dollars in contracts.”

“US Reps. McGovern, Keating visit Kyiv with Pelosi, blast Putin: ‘He has committed war crimes’,” by Matthew Medsger, Boston Herald: “A pair of Massachusetts congressmen joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers on a trip to Kyiv, where one representative said evidence of Vladimir Putin’s war crimes has been collected. ‘He has crossed many lines. He has committed war crimes. He has targeted maternity hospitals. He has engaged in mass killings, which we have now documented,’ U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern said Sunday of the Russian president during a press conference in Kyiv. ‘The question that should also be asked is whether the world will hold him to account for his war crimes,’ the Worcester Democrat said. U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, a Democrat from Cape Cod, was also part of the delegation.”

“Biden considering student loan forgiveness is ‘a tremendous victory’: Rep. Ayanna Pressley,” by Katie Balevic, Insider: “‘The fact that President Biden is expressing an openness to some sort of debt cancellation is really a testament to the vigilance of this broader movement, the same movement that decisively elected him,’ [Rep.] Ayanna Pressley said, adding that Democratic leaders who have continued to push Biden also deserve recognition.”

“Stockpile of rare-earth metals down to 4% of Cold War-era value, Moulton urges action,” by Matthew Medsger, Boston Herald: “After decades of selloffs, the nation’s strategic stockpile of some hard-to-source materials is just 4% of what it was in 1989 and that’s a danger to the nation, according to two U.S. representatives [Seth Moulton and Scott Franklin (R-Fla.)] urging Congress to move on administration plans to boost spending.”

— WATCH: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren Defends Calling Kevin McCarthy A Traitor: ‘Don’t Know How Else You Look At It’,” by Jon Keller, WBZ.

“What happens when one town employee has too much power? It doesn’t go well, probe into Monterey’s long civic conflict finds,” by Heather Bellow, Berkshire Eagle: “Investigators hired last year to probe complaints at Town Hall found Monterey’s town administrator central to most conflicts, engaging in a misuse of power though ‘a pattern of conduct’ that is retaliatory and manipulative — findings she strongly denies.”

“Pittsfield councilors echo call for DA’s independent report on police shooting of Miguel Estrella. ‘We need a hard look,’ one says,” by Amanda Burke, Berkshire Eagle: “When asked for their views by The Eagle, several councilors called for more discussion about implementing use of body-worn cameras by police, as well as bolstering mental health services in the city.”

“Sponsor circle participants prepare to welcome Afghan evacuees to Massachusetts,” by Sarah Betancourt, GBH News: “A family of Afghan evacuees is arriving in Massachusetts next week, one of the first to be resettled through a new program that allows private citizens to band together and help the displaced through a so-called sponsor circle.”

“Ukrainians fleeing war seek refuge in Massachusetts,” by Brian MacQuarrie, Boston Globe: “President Biden has said the United States will accept 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing the brutal Russian invasion of their country. But like Liliia Petrushyn and her children, an estimated 15,000 displaced Ukrainians who have already made it through have come via Mexico, which they can enter on a simple tourist visa.”

“Auburn school chief resigns amid allegations he fabricated parts of doctoral dissertation,” by Brad Petrishen, Worcester Telegram & Gazette: “Casey Handfield has resigned as school superintendent amid an investigation at Johns Hopkins University into allegations that he fabricated elements of his doctoral dissertation, documents obtained by the Telegram & Gazette indicate.”

“A new synthetic opioid makes its way across the U.S., already killing one Cape Cod teen,” by Rachael Devaney, Cape Cod Times: “When Jill Maiorana’s son Joey Bernard died at age 18 in November from a drug overdose, she assumed fentanyl took his life. But when Maiorana, of North Falmouth, received the toxicology report in March, she was shocked to find that Bernard actually died from a drug called N-pyrrolidino etonitazene — a synthetic opioid 20 times more potent than fentanyl.”

TRANSITIONS — State House News Service and MASSterList alum Chris Van Buskirk joins MassLive as a Boston-based reporter.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — to SHNS’s Matt Murphy and former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson. Happy belated birthday to Jessica Bradley Rushing.

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