August 27, 2017

On Beacon Hill: Out of the shadow

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Sam Doran / State House News Service

YANKEE DIVISION CENTENNIAL: A color guard dressed as doughboys from the First World War stood at attention Tuesday at the State House during a program honoring the 26th Maneuver Enhancement "Yankee" Division's activation 100 years earlier. The YD endured 210 days in combat fighting alongside French allies and was honored with the French Croix de Guerre.

Recap and analysis of the week in local, state and federal government
from State House News Service and Sun research.

BOSTON — When the stars align, sometimes the unexpected can happen.

The summer continued to serve up surprises as the sun went into hiding, a new multi-millionaire was made and career doors for past and present figures of the Massachusetts political-scape continued to open and close.

Former Mass. Lottery director and Mitt Romney aide Beth Lindstrom got last week started as she officially entered the U.S. Senate field as one of four Republicans now angling for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, while state Rep. Susannah Whipps threw everyone a curveball Tuesday when she announced the Republican Party was no longer for her.

Whipps, in something Beacon Hill has not seen in a long time, posted a statement on her website detailing reasons the Athol resident’s decision to unenroll from the GOP, including the overwhelmingly independent makeup of the electorate in her Western Massachusetts district.

What truly motivated Whipps to leave the party remains somewhat of a mystery, as she declined comment beyond her written statement. And despite voting against the small Republican bloc in the House this session on several key issues, she didn’t pick a fight on her way out as she said she hopes to work closely with both parties in the future.

Whipps might well be the first unenrolled elected official in the Legislature since Lawrence’s Willy Lantigua (before he became a Democrat), and now party leaders will have to figure out where she fits into a party-dictated committee and leadership structure.

But the afterglow of the eclipse and curiosity of Whipps’ decision quickly gave way to Powerball fever and the realization that one Bay Stater had beaten the 1-in-292,201,338 odds.

Mavis Wanczyk, the 53-year-old holder of the $758.7 million winning Powerball ticket did what every hopeful lottery player says they’ll do should they strike it rich — quit their job. Immediately.

Wanczyk worked her last graveyard shift at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield on Tuesday night, telling her bosses the next day not to expect her back after she became the largest lottery winner in Massachusetts history.

The Chicopee resident wasted little time coming forward to collect her prize, hoping to turn the spotlight off as soon as possible so, as she put it, she could go home and “hide in bed” while she figures out what to do with her overnight wealth.

Wanczyk wasn’t the only big winner from the Powerball jackpot.

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and others pointed out that the state will do pretty nicely as well, taking home $25 million in income taxes that could have gone to another state had the winning ticket not have been printed here.

— Matt Murphy

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

  • Marijuana and health care among immediate priorities
  • McGovern on Trump and Afghanistan, Warren on big banks
  • Eldridge says he’ll pass on Tsongas Capitol Hill seat
  • Watch: DeLeo on what’s next for Legislature
  • Baker taps Leominster senator for state pot panel


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