Ballot measures, gubernatorial, Senate races looming for 2018

Jule Pattison-Gordon | 8/10/2017, 5:59 a.m.

Next year also marks the first Massachusetts gubernatorial election with early voting, which could increase voting among those with less flexible schedules, Walsh said. As a result, campaigns that are quick to create a strong presence will be advantaged, he predicted.

Ballot turnout

Finfer said the Raise Up coalition will rally its core base of low- to moderate-income people, labor unions and religious groups. He expects the minimum wage and paid family medical leave measures to have reach beyond that core, with the latter especially appealing to middle-class voters and anyone who cannot comfortably afford to take time for maternity leave or to help family in times of emergency.

The labor union ballot measures and Sen. Warren’s race are mutually reinforcing — progressive voters rallying to defend Warren likely are more likely to vote for the minimum wage initiative that she sponsored, Finfer said. Melvin Poindexter, of the national committee for the Massachusetts Democratic Party, in a separate conversation agreed that presence of questions advancing paid family medical leave and a higher minimum wage could bolster Warren, who supports them. Pointdexter anticipates a strong showing of female voters of color to support the paid family medical leave, as he said this demographic often is the sole family provider. He also expects communities of color to turn out for the minimum wage increase.

“One concern was that this particular election cycle was going to be one that wouldn’t motivate a lot of people to come out,” Poindexter told the Banner. “But a lot of issues currently on the ballot are ones that personally touch people in their day-to-day existence.”

Baker has yet to take a stand on these or the Fair Share Amendment, while Poindexter noted that his challengers support a minimum wage increase and paid family medical leave.

Extent of Raise Up’s impact

How many people Raise Up can rally remains unclear, but its 2013-2014 bid to get a higher minimum wage and earned sick time on the ballot engaged about 5,000 volunteers for signature collection and phone banking, Finfer said. (Voters passed the sick time measure, while the Legislature jumped in front of the minimum wage vote with its own proposal). Thus far, Raise Up’s plan calls for phone banking, door-to-door canvassing, and distributing information near polling places on election day.

Business and U.S. Senate

Sales tax cut ballot measures should mobilize business groups, which could thwart Raise Up’s goals, given their historic opposition to minimum wage increases, Finfer said.

The measures also may draw voters who favor Warren’s challengers. GOP contender and Trump supporter Rep. Geoff Diehl has highlighted prior efforts to repeal linkage of the gas tax to inflation and spoken against the Fair Share Amendment. He states on his campaign website that transportation reforms are needed before new taxes. Shiva Ayadurai, another Republican candidate and Trump fan campaigning against Warren, generally supports low taxes and opposes corporate tax increases, according to his website.

The retailers’ proposed sales cut could nullify the Fair Share Amendment — which aims to supplement current spending — by depleting the overall state budget. In 2016, House Speaker Robert DeLeo said a sales tax holiday weekend could slash $26 million from the state budget.