The campaign began “its first full test-run this weekend as parties [kicked] off local caucuses. … At the caucuses, which begin for both parties Saturday at elementary schools, libraries and town halls throughout the state, tens of thousands of activists will hear from the campaigns officially for the first time. It’s the initial step in selecting delegates who will endorse the party’s preferred candidate or, in some cases, determine who will be on the primary ballot later this year.
For “Democrats, in particular, the gatherings of town and ward committees … serve as the initial organizational shake-down for the three candidates for governor.”
Gov. Charlie Baker (R) “is expected to easily sweep much of the Republican caucuses, despite pockets of conservative resistance to his candidacy. The only question is whether he can so heavily dominate the delegate selection that he can avoid a primary race” against minister Scott Lively (R). “But that goal could be a challenge for Baker, as the makeup of the convention delegates has over the years become increasingly conservative, with many of them upset over what they see are his moderate and liberal policies and his close ties to some Democratic political figures.” (Boston Globe)
THANKS FOR NOTHING, SUNUNU. Baker’s “pick for a project to increase the amount of renewable energy used in the state — announced just last week — was dealt what could be a dire setback Thursday, when New Hampshire officials denied a key permit to build 192 miles of transmission lines. Also Thursday, the state agency that oversees health benefits for hundreds of thousands of public employees, retirees, and their families—over which Baker has considerable control—reversed course. … Democratic opponents of Baker, who is seeking a second term this year, piled on.” (Boston Globe)
A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS. State Sen. Cindy Friedman (D) endorsed former state budget director Jay Gonzalez (D). (release) Brockton City Councilor Jean Bradley Derenoncourt endorsed former Newton Mayor Setti Warren (D). (release)
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE. Gonzalez called for state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg (D), who until recently was the state Senate president, “to step down from the Legislature. Rosenberg has been laid low by allegations of sexual assault against his husband, Bryon Hefner, and damaged politically by a report that Hefner involved himself in Senate affairs after Rosenberg had promised a ‘firewall’ between his personal life and legislative business.” (Boston Globe)
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White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is "getting close" to a deal with Mexico. Kudlow added that trade talks with China are set to resume shortly.
"A federal judge has found a witness in contempt for refusing to testify before the grand jury hearing evidence in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell made the ruling Friday after a sealed hearing to discuss Andrew Miller’s refusal to appear before the grand jury. Miller is a former aide to longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone."