Politics

The 8 biggest Election Day stories for New Englanders

Boston, MA - November 07, 2016: Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker takes the stage during a "Yes on 2" rally with at the Roxbury Boys & Girls Club in Boston on November 07, 2016. (Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe)  Section: Metro reporter:

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker takes the stage during a ‘Yes on 2’ rally with at the Roxbury Boys & Girls Club in Boston on Monday.

After one of the longest campaign seasons in recent memory, Election Day 2016 is finally here. Ahead of the decisive vote, here’s a look back and a peek forward at the election’s biggest political stories for New England residents, from Massachusetts’s ballot questions to Curt Schilling’s future plans.

Charter schools

With Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton expected to cruise to victory over Donald Trump in Massachusetts, the charter school ballot question has become the most high-profile question on the state ballot, The New York Times writes. If approved, the ballot question would expand the cap on charter schools by up to 12 per year, which proponents like Gov. Charlie Baker say will give more opportunities to underserved communities. Opponents, like Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, argue that charters undermine traditional public schools.

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“What happens in Massachusetts will send shock waves throughout the United States either way,” Parag Pathak, a professor at M.I.T.’s Department of Economics, told the Times.

Legal marijuana

Another presidential election, another marijuana-related ballot question. After decriminalizing it in 2008 and approving it for medical use in 2012, voters this year are being asked whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Despite the exhortations of most of the state’s political leadership, polls show Massachusetts voters appear ready to do just that and legalize the drug. Kevin’s mom does not approve.

New Hampshire’s swing state presidential vote

This swing state and its four electoral votes could decide who becomes the next president. In recent days, the Granite State has been teeming with high-profile politicians — and the candidates themselves — trying to lure undecided voters. Clinton and Trump remain locked in a tight match, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average, and the results of that will have a major impact on the other big election there…

Candidates for U.S. Senate, Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte, left, looks on as Democratic challenger Gov. Maggie Hassan speaks during a live televised debate Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, Pool)

Candidates for U.S. Senate, Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte, left, looks on as Democratic challenger Gov. Maggie Hassan speaks during a live televised debate Wednesday, Nov. 2, in Manchester, New Hampshire.

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New Hampshire’s much-watched Senate race

Unlike the presidential election, New Hampshire’s Senate faceoff pits two relatively popular figures in Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan and incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte. Still, both have struggled to distance themselves from their party’s nominee. In August, Hassan awkwardly dodged answering whether Clinton was honest and trustworthy, and Ayotte had hesitantly supported Trump for months before withdrawing her support last month.

The race is one of the most tightly contested in the country, and its results could determine whether Democrats take back the Senate.

Gov. Charlie Baker won’t vote for his party’s nominee

Baker, the popular Republican governor of Massachusetts, said he did not vote for Trump in the state’s primary and has said he will not vote for him on Tuesday. He has repeatedly criticized Trump for his “reprehensible” comments on women and his “inappropriate” plan to ban Muslims from entering the country. In February, too, he questioned whether Trump has the “temperament” or the “sense of purpose” to succeed collaboratively in politics. He’s stuck to that anti-Trump position ever since.

Instead, Baker has dedicated himself to championing down-ballot issues, like the New Hampshire Senate race and the Massachusetts ballot questions. But on the main question facing the country, he says he’ll leave his ballot blank.

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Bill Weld’s curious Libertarian Party candidacy

As the Republican governor of Massachusetts from 1991-97, Weld set the standard for the socially liberal, fiscally conservative figure that so defines the state’s Republicans like Charlie Baker. But Weld tossed the GOP aside this election, hitching his wagon to the Libertarian Party as its vice presidential candidate.

The buttoned-up Weld and the aloof former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson have made for quite an odd couple, and their joint third-party candidacy never really took off. In recent weeks, with their support mired in single-digit territory, Weld has taken to criticizing Trump and “vouching” for Clinton, acting in all respects like a Clinton surrogate.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s rise

For Warren, this election season represented her launch into political super-stardom. The liberal darling has long directed her ire at Wall Street malfeasance, and her sharp criticisms of Trump–largely via Twitter–solidified her position as the Democratic party’s most powerful attack dog. Though she ultimately endorsed Clinton, Warren pushed Clinton to the left on policy by withholding her endorsement until late in the primary season.

And in perhaps the best news for Warren…

Curt Schilling threatens to run for Senate 2018

The Red Sox champion, failed businessman, and enthusiastic meme-sharer was fired by ESPN for sharing a transphobic meme in April. Since losing his job, Schilling has only doubled down on his controversial political views, linking up with conservative firebrand site Breitbart. Recently, he suggested he may run for Senate in 2018 to take down Warren. Whether or not he goes through with that plan, its seeds were planted during this Trump-dominated election cycle.

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