Barnstable County Commissioner Ron Beaty (R) plans to run for the state House rather than challenge Gov. Charlie Baker (R). (State House News Service)
CLOSING OUT THE YEAR. Baker raised $176,000 between Dec. 16-31 and reported $7.3 million on hand at the end of 2017, his campaign reported Tuesday. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) reported an additional $3.3 million on hand.
Former state budget chief Jay Gonzalez (D) raised $27,000 in the latter half of December and reported $88,000 on hand.
Former Newton Mayor Setti Warren (D) raised $37,000 in the same time and reported $57,000 on hand.
Environmental activist Bob Massie (D) raised $6,000 and had $18,000 on hand. (Hotline reporting)
MORE MONEY, MORE PROBLEMS. “State campaign finance regulators have cracked down on a second political group aligned with … Baker, forcing the committee to divulge the donors behind the $1.168 million it spent supporting the governor’s 2016 ballot question campaigns. On Tuesday, the Office of Campaign and Political Finance announced it had levied a $31,000 fine on Strong Economy for Growth (SEFG), charging the group violated finance laws in 2016 by not making public its contributors. Also under the ruling, SEFG is barred from participating in Massachusetts politics in 2018. … [T]he group’s fund-raising and campaign activities involved close Baker political finance aides,” including fundraisers John Cook and Steve Roche as well as consultants Jim Conroy and Will Keyser. (Boston Globe)
TO THE LEFT, TO THE LEFT. “The Massachusetts wing of the Bernie Sanders-aligned group Our Revolution … is currently polling its members on the choice in a non-binding statewide advisory poll underway until Friday” on endorsing either “environmental activist Bob Massie (D) or stay out of the race completely.” (Politico)
“All three Democrats challenging … Baker said they generally oppose the construction of new natural gas pipelines.” (MassLive) “All three of the Democrats … support repealing some mandatory minimum sentences, but they differ on exactly which ones to repeal.” (MassLive)
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President Trump said on Twitter that if Mexico did not reduce the "onslaught" of migrants heading to the United States, he would send the military to close the U.S.–Mexico border. He also threatened to cut off aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, who he said had "almost no control over their population." A caravan of roughly 4,000 migrants from Central America recently crossed into Guatemala.
"Donald F. McGahn II departed as White House counsel on Wednesday, ending a tumultuous 21-month tenure where he spearheaded some of President Trump’s most significant political accomplishments, including two appointments to the Supreme Court, but also became a chief witness against him in the special counsel investigation. Mr. McGahn’s departure was confirmed by two people close to him. Mr. McGahn and the president sat for a farewell chat on Wednesday, one said. Mr. Trump said this week that he will install as Mr. McGahn’s replacement the longtime Washington lawyer Pat Cipollone."
President Trump has named Mary Catherine Phee ambassador to Qatar. A career foreign service officer, she currently serves as deputy special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation at the Department of State. She's been ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan and served on the National Security Council as director for Iraq.