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Policy committee appointments signal Healey may end up 'leading from the center'

In this file photo, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and state Attorney General Maura Healey, the incoming lieutenant governor and governor of Massachusetts.
Anthony Brooks
In this file photo, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and state Attorney General Maura Healey, the incoming lieutenant governor and governor of Massachusetts.

Preparations are underway for Massachusetts Governor-elect Maura Healey to hit the ground running on January 5.

Late last week, we learned Healey formed policy committees as part of her preparation to lead the commonwealth. Those newly named committee chairs include a Pittsfield native who was the district aide to state Sen. Adam Hynes.

Matt Murphy of the State House News Service said it's possible to glean some insights into how Healey will govern from the make-up of the committees.

Matt Murphy, State House News Service: I mean, first and right in front of you, is the six categories that she selected here, signaling where her priorities are. And they're no surprise if you heard her talk throughout the campaign. She's looking at climate change. She's looking at housing. She's looking at jobs.

And if you dig a little deeper and start looking at who she put on these transition committees, I think you see a sort of diversity of viewpoints that she's assembled around some of these topics. You know, if you look at the jobs committee, for instance, she has business leaders on there. She has unions represented on there. And she you know, and she has the community colleges, education on there. We've heard her talk about the connection between our state's higher education system connecting talent to a pipeline of jobs that will feed the economy.

Same thing in some of these other categories, whether it be housing — where you have affordable housing advocates coupled with real estate developers. I think this signals, and what a lot of people think is, that this governor is interested in perhaps following in the footsteps somewhat of Governor Baker, leading from the center and looking to really find ways where she can make progress rather than driving perhaps a purely progressive agenda.

Meanwhile, Baker attended the Republican Governors Association meetings last week. After the midterms, there have been calls to back off that extremism associated with the party. And now some TV hosts, including CNN's Jake Tapper, are speculating about a Baker run for the White House in 2024. Hasn't Baker said he has no plans for this kind of thing? What are you hearing from others on Baker 2024?

He has said before that he has no interest in running for the White House. He told Jake Tapper, of course, that he's not sure that his brand of New England Republicanism would play in a national Republican primary.

Interestingly, he went on channel 5 here in Boston, WCVB's "On the Record" program over the weekend, where he was asked the same question. He seemed to leave the door ajar, saying that there was a small chance of seeing him on the ballot again in 2024, before then following up and slamming it shut and saying no to 2024, but not no to running again for public office in the future.

So a slightly different tone than we've heard from the governor in the past. But I think in the immediate, he's looking at spending some time with his family. He's expecting a new grandchild. He said his wife would be furious if he started talking about running for 2024 now. So I think we may see him step aside from the public spotlight, at least in the short term.

Interesting. Those companies who are looking for a piece of the forthcoming sports betting action in Massachusetts are facing a deadline of 2 p.m. Monday to get their applications into gaming regulators. Do we have any idea who's applying and what is that application if you have $200,000 paying for?

Yeah, these fees always look a bit steep. It was the same when the state licensed their resort casinos and the slot parlor. But these pay for the lawyers and the vetting staff that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has to rely on, to go through these proposals as they try to pick out who will win these very lucrative licenses. So they help pay for all of those background checks and all of the vetting that goes into this process.

And we know that the [existing Massachusetts] casinos are going to be bidders here, as well as the slot parlor in Plainville. We know there is interest from the track in Raynham, the horse track, the former racing track at Suffolk Downs here in the greater Boston region, as well as these online platforms, names that people will recognize like DraftKings, FanDuel. There's always potential here for people to partner up. There's some Vegas interests that don't have casinos here necessarily — Caesars, companies like that looking to maybe run online sports betting books here in Massachusetts. But of the 30 companies, I don't know that we'll see all of them that initially signaled interest submit final applications, but the pool could be pretty big.

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.
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