INTO THE WUNIVERSE — The Twitter accounts sprang up quickly after Michelle Wu declared she was running for mayor of Boston in September 2020 — “dogs 4 michelle wu,” “Hot Gays For Wu,” “Blue Line for Michelle Wu” and even “Potato for WU.”
They were the first signs that the "Markeyverse" — the highly online network of young, progressive activists who helped propel Sen. Ed Markey to primary victory over former Rep. Joe Kennedy III — was giving rise to the "Wuniverse."
A year later ,
the Wuniverse is still starry-eyed for Wu. But young activists are focused less on creating memes and maintaining fan accounts — some of which haven’t been active since last fall — and more on in-person outreach. The mayoral race is far more localized and far less online than the statewide Senate contest, which drew national attention and largely played out on computer screens because of the pandemic.
“A lot of people came into the Wu race thinking we were going to use the exact same organizing model and win. We realized pretty soon afterwards that you can’t use the same model for a statewide race in a mayor’s race,” said Jonathan Waldmann, a 17-year-old from Milton who was part of the Markeyverse and is now part of “Youth for Michelle Wu,” which was previously “Students for Michelle Wu.”
The same activists who honed their political organizing chops from bedrooms and basements at the height of the pandemic were soon able to get outside to collect signatures for Wu to get on the ballot, and then go door-knocking for her throughout the summer ahead of the preliminary election. The result is a far more conventional grassroots effort by young activists for Wu than the hyper-online one for Markey.
“That’s definitely a factor,” in why the Wuniverse seems different, said Lillian Gibson, an 18-year-old from Dorchester who’s another Markeyverse alum organizing for Wu. “It’s also just a better use of time to be on the ground doing things — whether that’s canvassing, or texting, or calling. It can still be nice to have a social media presence. But I just don’t think in this time period they can do as much as they were able to do before.”
Still, Wu seems to enjoy
more online engagement than her mayoral competitors, according to a recent analysis by Legislata, a productivity software for politicians, and your Playbook scribe’s less-scientific scrolls through Twitter. Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey, for instance, didn't appear to enjoy the same level of engagement as Wu did through the preliminary election. But her endorsement of Wu on Saturday garnered hundreds and hundreds of likes and retweets across various tweets.
The Wuniverse has also been a thorn in City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George's side by pointing out policy positions of hers that they deem unfavorable, though the rancor is less intense than what Kennedy experienced.
John Walsh, who ran Markey's Senate reelection campaign, recently told the Boston Globe's Joan Vennochi that the mayor's race will "turn on the turnout of young people" who made up 33% of Markey's vote in Boston and 19% of his vote statewide.
Young activists are certainly excited for Wu. She handily won the younger-skewing Allston-Brighton neighborhoods in this month's preliminary, for instance.
But one factor to keep an eye on through November: Some of the issues that galvanized young voters to turn out for Markey — like climate change — aren't as dominant in a mayor's race where the two remaining candidates are asked near-daily about the worsening public health crisis at Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard. And while both candidates made overtures to young voters at a forum last week, they're more often being pressed on how they'll address the racial and socioeconomic inequities facing Bostonians, particularly Black Bostonians, after no Black candidate advanced to the final in a race that will deliver the city its first non-white mayor.
GOOD TUESDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. Have a tip, story, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for the Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]
TODAY — Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and
HED Secretary Mike Kennealy are in Worcester for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Mash-Up at 9 a.m.;
state Sen. Eric Lesser and
state Rep. Jeffrey Roy stop by at 9:30 a.m.
Polito and MassDOT Secretary and
CEO Jamey Tesler attend a rail-trail ribbon cutting at 11 a.m.
Polito and other administration officials visit affordable housing developments in Worcester at 1 p.m. Lawmakers virtually launch their Better Bottle Bill campaign at 11 a.m.
Janey gives remarks at the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery’s 31st annual Recovery Month Celebration at 11:30 a.m.
Drawing Democracy virtually releases its “Unity Maps” for state legislative redistricting at 1 p.m.
Wu announces new endorsements at 1:15 p.m. at City Hall Plaza.
Essaibi George makes local stops in the morning and calls into the “Wake Up with Tayla Andre” radio show at noon.
STEP INSIDE THE WEST WING: What's really happening in West Wing offices? Find out who's up, who's down and who really has the president's ear in West Wing Playbook, the insider's guide to the Biden White House and Cabinet. For buzzy nuggets and details that you won't find anywhere else, subscribe today.
– “Massachusetts coronavirus cases up 4,095 over the weekend, the 2nd straight weekend of fewer cases,” by Rick Sobey, Boston Herald: “The three-day total of 4,095 cases — a daily average of 1,365 infections — was a lower daily rate than last weekend’s daily average of 1,455 cases. The previous weekend’s u">>daily average was 1,584 cases.”
– Lawmakers are again considering bills that would authorize safe injection sites in Massachusetts — this time with a renewed sense of urgency from advocates amid the worsening addiction and homelessness crises at "Mass and Cass" and stats that show rising opioid deaths.
Boston’s two mayoral candidates disagree on whether safe injection sites — places where people can use drugs they acquire on their own under the supervision of medical professionals who can prevent overdoses and connect those struggling to treatments — are a good idea.
Essaibi George said she’s visited safe injection sites in Canada “and I am not in favor of them" due to the number of sites she believes are needed in Boston to be effective and the costs associated with them.
supports safe injection sites , but called to be "very intentional" about their locations to lessen any potential impact on "one area of the city." Both councilors called for more investments in substance-use treatments.
Two other pols who disagree — Gov. Charlie Baker and GOP gubernatorial hopeful Geoff Diehl, who could face off in a 2022 Republican primary for governor.
Baker called safe injection sites “extremely controversial within the addiction community” when asked by a POLITICO reporter Monday. “I would much rather put people into treatment, and I think that should be our primary focus."
Diehl, the more conservative of the two, said the “benefits of safe consumption sites are compelling.”
He’d like to see the pilot program run by private entities, the drugs screened for fentanyl and proof that people can be "migrated into effective recovery programs." For now, he said treatment centers "should be the main focus" statewide.
– MassLive.com's Benjamin Kail recaps Monday's hearing on the bills, and
CommonWealth Magazine's Shira Schoenberg highlights the flashpoints.
– “Ombudsman Overseeing Mass. Prisons' COVID Mitigation Efforts Is Fired,” by Deborah Becker, WBUR: “The man hired to oversee pandemic mitigation efforts in state prisons was removed from the post days after reports last week surfaced that he may have been involved in a u">>wrongful death lawsuit nine years ago.”
– SHOT: “Mask mandate in Massachusetts public schools extended to Nov. 1. But some schools can drop masks earlier,” by Kay Lazar, Boston Globe: “State education officials on Monday extended the indoor mask mandate in Massachusetts public schools until at least Nov. 1, a decision that sparked frustration among some parents and infectious disease doctors, though for very different reasons. The extension provides the option for middle and high schools where 80 percent or more of their students and staff are vaccinated to lift the mandate well before Nov. 1."
– CHASER: "As School Year Begins, Parent Groups Are Suing To Block Mandatory Masking," by Max Larkin, WBUR: "In the past week, parents seeking to overturn the mandate have filed at least six suits in the state’s superior courts. The first cases are set to begin on Wednesday morning in Dedham and Woburn."
– SHOT: “Charlie Baker downplays claim that ‘dozens’ of Massachusetts state police troopers are resigning over his vaccine mandate,” by Nik DeCosta-Klipa, Boston.com: “Gov. Charlie Baker says he isn’t too concerned about the Massachusetts state police union’s claims that ‘dozens’ of troopers are resigning in the wake of the administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state employees. ... Baker suggested the primary reason for any such exodus was ‘demography,’ as baby boomers naturally age out of the force and said the state would u">>‘recruit aggressively to refill the ranks.’”
– CHASER: “Massachusetts State Police aware of only 1 possible resignation over vaccine mandate, source says,” by Karen Anderson, WCVB: “...a source within the Massachusetts State Police told 5 Investigates that the department is only aware of one person who has submitted paperwork to resign as a u">>result of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.”
– “Gov. Baker says Massachusetts is well-prepared to meet demand for Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots,” by Sharman Sacchetti, WCVB: “‘By the middle of October, Baker expects the state to have the capacity to administer as many as u">>300,000 Pfizer booster shots per week.”
– “Massachusetts poised to extend paid leave for Covid shots into 2022,” by Steph Solis, Boston Business Journal: “The House and Senate swiftly enacted a bill to extend the paid leave policy until April 2022. ... Baker did not say whether he would support the bill ... but noted he had been willing to sign the Covid paid sick leave provision the first time around, and that vaccine access is crucial to help u">>reduce Covid-related illnesses in Massachusetts.”
“Some advocates and experts push back against sheriff’s Mass. & Cass proposal,” by Danny McDonald, Boston Globe: “Some civil rights advocates and public health experts are calling the Suffolk sheriff’s proposal to use one of his buildings as a treatment center to alleviate the suffering in Boston’s Mass. and Cass area deeply misguided and unjust."
– “Killings soared in U.S., but not in Boston; see latest crime statistics,” by Joe Dwinell, Boston Herald .
– “Black voters are on the line in the race for Boston mayor,” by Meghan E. Irons and Andrew Ryan, Boston Globe: “Two weeks after the preliminary election extinguished the hopes of three Black candidates vying for the city’s top job, [Annissa] Essaibi George, who is Arab American, and [Michelle] Wu, who is Asian American, are in a full courtship of the Black vote. The two at-large councilors have been attending Sunday services in Black churches, targeting ethnic media, going on peace walks, and fanning out in key areas of the city wooing Black voters, many of whom supported a u">>Black candidate for mayor in the preliminary election.”
– “Mayoral Candidate Wu To Top Boston's November Ballot,” by Saraya Wintersmith, GBH News: “Michelle Wu's name will appear first on the Nov. 2 ballot in Boston's race for mayor, and Annissa Essaibi George will appear second. … David Halbert will top the list of eight [Boston City Council at-large] competitors who u">>emerged from a field of 17 earlier this month.”
– Halbert will be off the campaign trail for at least the next 10 days after his daughter tested positive for COVID-19 following a “recent exposure at her school.” She’s asymptomatic, and Halbert said he’s vaccinated, has no symptoms and has not tested positive. But he’s staying home out of an “abundance of caution.”
– City Councilor Andrea Campbell told WBUR’s “Radio Boston” Monday that she plans to sit down with the two remaining candidates for mayor and gauge how they’ll “specifically meet the needs of residents of color, especially Black residents” and how they plan to deliver on “racial equity in health, housing, schools, public safety” and policing reform before deciding whether she'll endorse. Campbell, who's off the City Council come January, said she's “excited about the possibilities to continue to serve the city" but isn't rushing into anything.
HOLD MY BEER: Gone are the days of Sen. Elizabeth Warren drinking a beer on Instagram Live to seem relatable. Republican Kim Duffy of Quincy grabbed a Bud Light seltzer for a quite-lengthy video about why she’s running for governor. One reason? Town boards are “too small” and “I do everything big.”
– “$1,000-a-ticket fundraiser for Charlie Baker at One Dalton tower,” by Joe Dwinell and Erin Tiernan, Boston Herald: “A $1,000-a-ticket fundraiser for Gov. Charlie Baker is set for Tuesday eve at the swanky Four Seasons One Dalton Street as speculation builds a re-election announcement u">>may be around the corner.” Baker told reporters Monday he’ll announce whether he’s running for a third term “whenever my wife and I decide.”
– Voters head to the polls in Northampton and New Bedford today as preliminary election season comes to a close. Four candidates are vying to succeed Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, per the
Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Brian Steele. New Bedford voters will cast ballots in the Ward 5 City Council race, > per the Standard Times .
> per the Standard Times .
– “What went wrong for Framingham’s 1st mayor?” by Michael Jonas, CommonWealth Magazine: “The problems have either been the result of self-inflicted wounds from a novice politician who resisted calls for greater communication and collaboration with other officials, or the product of the determined efforts of Framingham’s ‘old guard’ to trip up the city’s new leader right out of the gate. Whatever the reasons, there is little doubt that [Mayor Yvonne] Spicer is now an underdog heading into the November 2 final election, u">>an unusual position for an incumbent officeholder.”
– “Markey, Trahan Call On Facebook To ‘Completely Abandon’ Instagram For Kids Following Pause,” by CBS Boston/CNN: “Instagram is pressing pause on plans to develop a version of its service for kids under 13 after facing pressure from lawmakers to back down on the effort and new questions about the impact the photo-sharing service has on teen girls. … Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Lori Trahan, of Lowell, were among the lawmakers who questioned the plan to create a kids version of Instagram back in April. They issued a statement following Monday’s news of the pause, u">>calling on Facebook to go even further.”
– “Judge tosses tax fraud charges from Jasiel Correia's conviction, but sends him a huge bill,” by Dan Medeiros, Herald News: “Disgraced former mayor Jasiel Correia II was acquitted of two more convictions pertaining to his income tax filings, according to documents filed by Judge Douglas Woodlock on Monday. But the judge also gave the government the ability to seize u">>more than half a million dollars of his assets.”
– “Prisoners from Spotlight investigation sue over alleged abuse at Souza-Baranowski,” by Mark Arsenault, Boston Globe: “Two incarcerated men at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, who featured heavily in a Globe Spotlight investigation this summer, on Monday filed a federal lawsuit accusing more than 30 state and prison officials of conspiring to punish prisoners across the institution with violence, in collective retribution for an u">>assault on corrections officers in early 2020.”
– “Allegations of misconduct landed high ranking court officers, Nicholas DeAngelis and Heather Brouillette, on administrative leave,” by Douglas Hook, MassLive.com .
– “Lawsuit seeking closure of Roderick L. Ireland Courthouse refiled before SJC,” by Stephanie Barry, Springfield Republican.
– “Massachusetts motorists face gridlock as MBTA ridership on life-support,” by Joe Dwinell, Boston Herald: “Ridership on the MBTA has yet to recover as motorists take to the streets driving up traffic jams to prepandemic levels, forcing police to flip on the blue lights with speeders topping the list of offenders."
– “Racist emails sent to UMass’ Black student groups spur responses from university leaders, but some students say it wasn’t fast enough,” by Will Katcher, MassLive.com: “Dr. Nefertiti Walker, the UMass chief diversity officer, said Friday that her office knew of an email sent early in the school year and was working specifically with the group that received it. But as she became aware of additional messages sent to other student groups, it became clear that she needed to alert the larger school community to the incidents. … On Monday, UMass system president Marty Meehan released a statement u">>calling the messages ‘appalling and disgusting.’”
– “Fed’s Rosengren Retiring Due to Health, Following Trading News,” by Craig Torres, Bloomberg: “Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren will retire this week due to a health condition, a decision that also follows revelations about his trading activity last year. ... He was due to step down by June, when he would have reached the mandatory retirement age of 65. The Boston Fed, citing a longstanding kidney condition, announced the news in a statement Monday. u">>It said the search was underway for his successor.”
– “Cupcake investigation baked,” by Taylor Ann Bradford, Gloucester Times: “The outside investigation of an incident involving two Gloucester city councilors and a cupcake has been cooked, and when the final report was completed, it cost the city $15,089. A New Hampshire-based attorney has found that City Councilor Melissa Cox has violated the council’s Civility Resolution for calling Councilor Jen Holmgren ‘a cupcake’ during a public meeting and that Holmgren’s subsequent actions of eating a cupcake on screen was u">>also in violation of the Civility Resolution.”
– “Racism classification ignites Lowell City Council at-large debate,” by Alana Melanson, Lowell Sun: “A question about whether racism is a public health crisis early on in Monday’s debate for at-large City Council candidates got the forum u">>off to a contentious start.”
– "Liz Cheney to speak at Loeb School First Amendment event" in November by Union Leader staff.
SPOTTED – Baker at a fundraiser for GOP
state Rep. Jim Kelcourse, who's running for mayor of Amesbury.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY – to
Matt Corridoni, comms director for Rep. Jake Auchincloss,
Ryan Migeed, Kevin Ready, Molly Crosby of Planned Parenthood,
Simon Winchester, Calley Means, Stephanie Blumenthal and filmmaker
Nadia Szold, whose “Larry Flynt for President” film won Best Documentary Feature this weekend at Mammoth Lakes Film Festival (h/t proud brother Daniel Lippman).
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: span data-cfemail="d3b9a0bbb2a3baa1bc93a3bcbfbaa7bab0bcfdb0bcbe"">>[email protected].
BECOME A GLOBAL INSIDER: The world is more connected than ever. It has never been more essential to identify, unpack and analyze important news, trends and decisions shaping our future — and we’ve got you covered! Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Global Insider author Ryan Heath navigates the global news maze and connects you to power players and events changing our world. Don’t miss out on this influential global community. Subscribe now.
- Lisa Kashinsky @lisakashinsky