Most of the spotlight this fall will focus on marquee races like the showdown between Republican US Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren.
But the November ballot will also present several policy questions that are flying under the radar for now, asking voters whether Massachusetts should legalize doctor-assisted suicide (known as Question 2) and allow medical marijuana (Question 3).
A third ballot question was largely rendered moot by a legislative compromise, leading both sides to back off on the contentious issue about whether auto manufacturers should be required to provide car owners and independent repair shops with access to special diagnostic information.
Local politicians have been holding off on commenting on Questions 2 and 3. That includes top Democrats and Republicans: Mayor Thomas Menino, for one, said last week that he would be willing to weigh in later. Brown, during a recent swing through Dorchester, said he also plans to have something to say later. “I’m going to hold off on commenting because I really haven’t focused on it so much,” said the Wrentham resident, who is locked in a fierce battle with Warren, who lives in Cambridge.
The Reporter also asked State Treasurer Steven Grossman for his thoughts: “In terms of medical marijuana, I see both sides of the argument,” he said. “I see the benefit, that physicians and patients have articulated again and again about how it assists people who are going through very, very difficult medical challenges. At the same time I see other states where, frankly, the access to medical marijuana has been excessive and potentially has led to access to marijuana beyond what was intended by the medical marijuana law.”
With the physician-assisted suicide question, Grossman said he wanted to “think that through” and “reserve judgment.”
During a July appearance on WGBH’s “Greater Boston,” Gov. Deval Patrick was asked about medical marijuana.
“I get asked that enough, you’d think I’d develop a position on it. It’s just not at the top of my list,” Patrick told the host, Emily Rooney.When Rooney pressed, Patrick said, “My vote is confidential.”
A Democratic polling firm, Public Policy Polling, showed the “yes” side of the two questions with significant leads: Both were shown to be passing with 58 percent support from likely voters, with 24 percent opposing Question 2 and 27 percent opposing Question 3. Some 18 percent of likely voters were undecided on Question 2 and 15 percent of them were undecided about Question 3. The automated telephone survey took place between Aug. 16 and Aug. 19, and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent.
As parties bicker, registration dips
When registering to vote, Bay State residents are continuing to choose “unenrolled” instead of “Democrat” or “Republican.”
According to Secretary of State William Galvin’s office, which oversees elections, 52.6 percent of voters picked “unenrolled,” up from 52.18 percent in February. For Democrats, registration fell to 35.56 percent from 35.9 percent, while Republican registration dropped to 11.29 percent from 11.35 percent. Green-Rainbow party registration hovered at 0.14 percent.
None of the parties is offering much in the way of incentives for voters. On Monday, before Galvin’s office released the figures, the Democratic and Republican camps spent a good chunk of the day warring over campaign trackers. Campaigns tap trackers to film other candidates, in the event that Warren, while walking back to her car, might say something like, “Let me tell you about my secret plan to turn America into Communist China,” or that a wealthy Wall Street financier might come up to Scott Brown and start shoving cash into his barn coat.
So it was that the conservative Weekly Standard posted video from a state GOP tracker who was bullied by a driver hired by Warren’s campaign. A Massachusetts Democratic Party spokesman then took to Twitter, the social networking site, to point observers to a never-before-seen video of a Democratic tracker at a Brown event from months ago getting pushed around. The Warren camp told reporters the driver is with a cab company and not the campaign, and called the confrontation “wrong.”
For anybody who was down in Tampa, dodging raindrops at the Republican National Convention, or attempting to relax on the Cape or in the Berkshires before the campaign picks up again in earnest, there was little to miss. And little reason to get excited about a Senate race that was once billed as a high-minded showdown between two political titans.
Murphy gets married
Congratulations are in order for City Councillor At-Large Stephen Murphy. The Dorchester-born pol, a councillor since 1997 who now lives in Hyde Park, was married over the weekend to longtime sweetheart Bridget Simmons. The mayor was among the wedding watchers at King’s Chapel. The reception followed at Anthony’s Pier 4.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop. Material from State House News Service was used in this report. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org  and follow us on Twitter: @LitDrop and @gintautasd.