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The Horse Race


A weekly podcast on Massachusetts politics, policy and elections. Hosted by Steve Koczela, Jennifer Smith, and Lisa Kashinsky.

A weekly podcast on Massachusetts politics, policy and elections. Hosted by Steve Koczela, Jennifer Smith, and Lisa Kashinsky.


United States


A weekly podcast on Massachusetts politics, policy and elections. Hosted by Steve Koczela, Jennifer Smith, and Lisa Kashinsky.




Episode 198: Test Stressing

1/20/2022--This week on The Horse Race, two big campaign announcements hit the news. First, it's the one we've been waiting on for months. Attorney General Maura Healey is running for Governor. She enters the race after much anticipation and speculation with a rate of name recognition and funding that dwarfs that of her competitors. Tanisha Sullivan, President of the Boston NAACP, announced her candidacy for Secretary of the Commonwealth. Bill Galvin, who has been in the position for almost...


Episode 197: The Long Intermission

1/13/22--Today on The Horse Race, Jenn and Lisa discuss the biggest headlines of the week so far -- the continued issues around in-person schooling during a surge in COVID-19 cases, the newest entrant in the race for Lieutenant Governor (Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll), and the Boston's self-imposed deadline to clear tents from the Mass & Cass area wherein 140-plus people currently reside. Executive Director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Michael Bobbitt provides a glimpse into the arts and...


Episode 196: New year, same COVID

1/6/2022-- After ringing in the first Horse Race episode 2022, Steve, Jenn, and Lisa discuss poll results just out from The MassINC Polling Group. The statewide poll on Massachusetts residents found just around a quarter of them feel as though the situation around the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts is better than it was this time last year. The poll also found that unvaccinated people feel the safest doing activities like going to a movie and dining indoors, while people who are the most...


Episode 195: The crises at Mass. and Cass

12/23/21--On the last episode of 2021, Steve and Lisa discuss their holiday plans that have largely been rearranged thanks to the brutal arrival of the Omicron variant. It's a reality confronting people across Massachusetts, and as folks plan to safely convene with friends and family, the lack of available COVID testing is making that near impossible. With case numbers rising across the country and here in Massachusetts, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu this week announced an indoor mask mandate....


Episode 194: The push to unionize newsrooms

12/16/21--Newsrooms across the country are pushing to unionize. And those in Massachusetts are no exception. Today on The Horse Race, Jenn sits down with three guests who can speak to newsroom union negotiations from experience. State Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa is one of the columnists taking part in the strike at the Daily Hampshire Gazette in support of the paper’s union. The columnists have told Newspapers of New England, which owns the Gazette, that they will not be writing any more columns...


Episode 193: State House Roundup: What's in the ARPA spending bill?

12/9/21--Today on The Horse Race, a roundup on what's happening on Beacon Hill. Reporters Katie Lannan of State House News Service and Shira Schoenberg of CommonWealth stop by to break down what is inside the $4 billion ARPA spending bill headed for Charlie Baker's desk (and why it took so long to reach this point). Plus, Lisa provides the scoop on the down-ballot races heating up across the state.


Episode 192: Baker's out, on to 2022

12/1/21 --After two terms, Governor Charlie Baker has announced he will not be running for re-election in 2022. The statement led to a frenzy of reactions and speculations throughout the Massachusetts political scene, and many names were bandied about of who might throw their hat in the ring. Co-host Lisa Kashinsky has been on the ground watching it all unfold. She provides analysis on what Baker's (and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito's)decision will mean for the race and the Massachusetts...


Episode 191: An expensive debate over gig workers' rights

11/18/21--This week, a solo Jenn speaks with MassINC Polling Group Research Director Maeve Duggan about the latest survey on Massachusetts parents of K-12 students. While parents are largely optimistic about the rest of the in-person school year and their children's success, inequitable access to resources remains. Plus, a deep dive in what is likely to be the most expensive ballot question of 2022. If passed, it would establish that platform based drivers would be considered independent...


Episode 190: The Senate's revolutionary mental health bill

11/11/21-- This week, Steve and Lisa are back in the virtual bunker to celebrate a birthday, rejoice in vaccinations for children, and discuss the latest in the #mapoli scene. A new mental health bill unveiled by the state Senate would revolutionize treatment. Co-chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use, and Recovery Sen. Julian Cyr stopped by to explain the mechanics, the goal for mental and phyiscal health parity, and what the pandemic meant for the genesis of the bill....


Episode 189: Election Rodeo

11/4/21-- This week on The Horse Race, Steve, Jenn, and Lisa review the elections that took place all over the state. They break down all the highlights of the mayoral election, plus results of the at-large and city council elections and ballot questions. Later, Rich Parr, research director at The MassINC Polling Group joins in to talk about the notable elections that took place in cities throughout Western Massachusetts.


Episode 188: Who benefits from COVID recovery?

10/28/21--Happy Halloween from The (Headless) Horse Race! This week, Jenn, Steve, and Lisa discuss the final Boston mayoral debate before the election, the makeup of the House of Representatives's spending plan for the states remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds, plus, of course, Halloween. Later, state Senator Sonia-Chang Diaz drops by to break down the racial equity scorecard used to assess how the House's ARPA spending plan tackles issues of racial injustice.


Episode 187: Rising Tides: Under the Sea...port

10/21/21--This week, a poll from Public Policy Polling finds Governor Baker's approval ratings have dipped quite a bit among likely 2022 Republican primary voters. Lisa says this reinforces what anecdotal evidence has suggested for a while, that he's more popular among Democrats and Independents than those in his own party. In a hypothetical matchup with Geoff Diehl, Baker trails 50 to 29. Jenn, Steve, and Lisa rehash the major takeaways from Tuesday night's second Boston mayoral debate...


Episode 186: What happens in Mass. if Roe v. Wade falls?

10/13/21--This week, Steve shares findings from the latest poll on the Boston mayoral race. He spells out just how strong Michelle Wu's lead is so far over Annissa Essaibi-George, and how likely voters' priorities for the city differ based on who they plan to vote for. Later, Lisa and Steve are joined by state Rep. and member of the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting, Andy Vargas. Rep. Vargas explains the redistricting process, what the goals for redistricting are, and the challenges...


Episode 185: Can the T Ever be Free?

10/7/21--The MBTA is prone to some bad press, but things have been especially bleak in the past couple of weeks. Candidates in the gubernatorial and Boston mayoral races alike have pointed to the T as a problem area they vow to work on fixing. Some have clung to the idea of a free MBTA. But how exactly would that work? Today's guests walk us through what it would take to get such a project started. Lizzi Weyant is the Director of Government Affairs at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council,...


Episode 184: Beacon Hill Breakdown

9/30/21--This week on the podcast, Jenn and Lisa are joined by two longtime friends of the pod, Katie Lannan and Chris Lisinski of State House News Service. They explain all the headline bills being worked on, what's going on with the T after numerous disasters, and when the State House itself might be opening up for members and the public alike.


Episode 183: What happened in Massachusetts' historic preliminaries

9/23/21--Eleven cities across Massachusetts held preliminary mayoral elections this week. On The Horse Race this week, we're joined by three guests, each of whom have in-depth knowledge on particular races throughout the state. Matt Szafranski, Editor-in-Chief of the Western Mass Politics and Insight blog has been covering the Holyoke race; Juana Matias is the COO of MassINC, a former state representative of Massachusetts' 16th Essex district, and a current resident of Lawrence and follower...


Episode 182: Preliminary Report

9/16/21--The Horse Race rides again! We are back in the saddle after being put out to pasture for a summer, producing Mass Reboot (listen right here in this feed if you haven't yet!). In our first episode back we are joined by brand-new co-host, Lisa Kashinsky! Lisa is the author of the Politico Massachusetts Playbook, formerly of The Boston Herald, and a decorated veteran of Horse Race guesthood. This week, Steve, Jenn, and Lisa unpack the results of the Boston mayoral preliminary election....


Mass Reboot 8: Government

8/19/21--On the finale episode of Mass Reboot, we examine the early days of the pandemic when elected officials' jobs quickly got even more complicated and important. State Senator Adam Hinds, State Representative and Boston Medical emergency room physician Jon Santiago, and State House News Service Reporter and president of the Massachusetts State House Press Association Katie Lannan discussed what legislating was like back in those days. Now, as we look forward to a slightly more open, but...


Mass Reboot 7: Love

8/12/21--When the pandemic hit, just about every aspect of our lives changed. And that includes our relationships-- with family, friends, and partners. Whether you were single, dating, married, or divorced during the pandemic, chances are, dynamics changed at least slightly. Today, we hear from two sets up couples -- Honey Goodenough and Kenneth Dyer, and Eden Heller and Dan Hopkins -- about their experiences together during the pandemic, as well as the Boston Globe Love Letters columnist...


Mass Reboot 6: School

8/5/21-- School administrators, teachers, parents, and students were all thrown for a loop when COVID shut down school buildings and demanded immediate innovation. Some schools, and some students, were better off than others. So much depended on available resources like technology, Internet, and childcare. Families that lacked any one of these struggled with remote school and hybrid school. Learning loss was certainly a symptom of the COVID school year, but the voices on today’s podcast...