ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m. (Informal)
ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m. (No Calendar)


By Michael P. Norton

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, APRIL 30, 2018....Gov. Charlie Baker's unpopularity among many Massachusetts Republicans was made clear Saturday at the DCU Center, but his broader appeal among all voters shone through on Sunday morning when one voter, one of the most powerful Democrats in the state, sang his praises on TV.

"We work well together," Sen. Karen Spilka (left) said of Gov. Charlie Baker (right) in an interview. [Photo: Sam Doran/File/SHNS]

Asked whether Baker is unstoppable in this year's election, Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Karen Spilka told WCVB "On the Record" hosts that she'll support the Democratic nominee for governor, but passed on an opportunity to name any of Baker's vulnerabilities and said, "We work well together."

"I think in a lot of ways he has done a good job," Spilka, an Ashland Democrat, said of Baker, whose re-election effort was endorsed by party insiders at Saturday's convention even though 626 locally elected GOP delegates said they prefer conservative attorney and pastor Scott Lively over Baker.

Democrats plan to hold their election-year convention on June 2, also at Worcester's DCU Center.

Spilka hasn't decided whether to support Robert Massie or Jay Gonzalez at June's Democratic convention, but said she knows Gonzalez from his time working as Gov. Deval Patrick's budget chief. "I don't know Massie as well as I know Jay," she said, expressing a desire to meet with both men "and then make my decision."

Once she decides, Spilka said, she does not plan to try to rally her Democratic colleagues behind her pick to serve as the state's next governor. "I believe that people should make their own decisions," she said.

Again pressed on whether Baker is unbeatable, Spilka said, "I don't know. I mean, I work well with Charlie. I see him - I'm part of the leadership meeting every week. We sometimes have not agreed. I've tried to do it respectfully. But you never agree with anybody a hundred percent of the time and if he is the next governor, if he continues to be governor, I certainly will continue working with him on all of the issues."

Baker has won admirers among Democrats and independents with his bipartisan approach, and Democrats are considering whether to stay on the sidelines in this years governor's race, as many have so far. That phenomenom that has contributed to difficulty among Democratic candidates in raising money to oppose Baker.

"Tough Times in the State House"

A months-long investigation into former Senate President Stan Rosenberg hasn't affected Senate business "at all," Spilka claimed, while adding that senators need to put the investigation behind them.

"It has made tough times in the State House. It has not been easy for senators, for staff," Spilka said.

The law firm Hogan Lovells since December has been investigating whether Rosenberg broke Senate rules in connection with allegations that his husband Bryon Hefner sexually assaulted men with Beacon Hill ties and interfered in Senate business.

The Senate Ethics Committee, if they haven't already, will receive the Hogan Lovells report "soon," Spilka said.

"I do believe we need to put this behind us and keep moving forward," she said. "The Ethics Committee will get that independent investigation, make its recommendations and take that to the full Senate and we will decide as a body what happens."

Senators elected Harriette Chandler to succeed Rosenberg in December. Since then Senate Democrats agreed that Spilka will take over as president in July.

"The Senate's been meeting, except for school vacation week, every single week and we're doing one, two, three, sometimes even four or five bills," Spilka said. "So we have been as productive as years past, if not more so. And that's what we will keep doing."

The Senate in 2018 has held one formal session most weeks, but has limited itself to the mandatory twice-a-week informal sessions a few weeks.

Just as Spilka suggested the Rosenberg controversy has not impeded the Senate, Baker on Saturday said his focus remains on his day job after a weekend of campaigning at the Republican Party Convention in Worcester where he won 70 percent of the delegates, but will face a primary challenge from conservative pastor Scott Lively.

"Look, Monday I go back to my job as governor and there are about 50 days left in the legislative session and we have about 20 different pieces of legislation that are really important to us so we have to figure out a way to get through that process between between now and the end of the session," the governor said. "I'm going to go back and focus on my job."

July 31, the last day of formal sessions this year under legislative rules, is 93 days away.


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