TIME Crime

Mom Charged With Murder After Babies’ Bodies Found

Erika Murray
Erika Murray enters a courtroom for her arraignment at Uxbridge District Court in Uxbridge, Mass., on Sept. 12, 2014 Paul Kapteyn—AP

The house was infested with rodents and insects, piled high with dirty diapers and contained dead animals

(WORCESTER, Mass.) — A woman was indicted on two murder charges after the skeletal remains of three babies were found in her squalid home in September, a district attorney announced Tuesday.

Thirty-one-year-old Erika Murray has been held on $1 million bail after pleading not guilty to earlier charges, including fetal death concealment.

“I have never seen anything like the facts in this case,” Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early said at a news conference Tuesday to discuss the indictments against Murray and her live-in boyfriend Raymond Rivera, 38, the children’s father, who was charged with child abuse. “Everyone who went into that house, to a person, said they’d never seen anything like it.”

Murray’s attorney, Keith Halpern, said Tuesday he’s disappointed prosecutors decided to upgrade the charges.

“There’s no evidence that she did anything to cause the death of any of these infants,” Halpern said. “There’s no evidence of how they died.”

The couple’s four children, ranging from 5 months to 13 years old, were removed from the house in Blackstone in late August and placed in state custody after one of the older children went to a neighbor for help with a crying baby. Prosecutors said the 5-month-old and a 3-year-old were found covered in their own feces and had been severely neglected.

Police later searched the house and found the babies’ remains in bedroom closets.

The house was infested with rodents and insects, piled high with dirty diapers and contained dead animals. Workers in hazmat suits spent days cleaning out the house, which was later demolished. It was owned by Rivera’s sister.

Rivera is charged with child abuse and neglect related to the two younger children. Prosecutors said DNA showed he is the father of all seven.

Rivera pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault and battery on a child, two counts of reckless endangerment of a child, two counts of animal cruelty and one count of illegally growing marijuana. His bail was set at $100,000.

Rivera had said he lived in the basement and had no idea what was going on in the rest of the house, but a prosecutor said at his arraignment that Rivera slept with Murray every night in a room near where the younger children were.

Murray also was indicted on two counts of assault and battery on a child causing substantial injury, two counts of reckless endangerment of a child, two counts of cruelty to animals and one count of concealing a fetal death. The murder charges relate to the bodies of two infants found wearing diapers and one-piece infant outfits.

Halpern has said Murray has mental health issues and that she told police she found one of the babies dead after she put the child down for a nap.

Murray is to be arraigned Dec. 29. Rivera has a pretrial conference Jan. 14.

TIME Election 2014

Meet the Republican Who Might Run Massachusetts

Charlie Baker
Charlie Baker after a debate with Democratic candidate Martha Coakley in Boston on Oct. 21, 2014. Steven Senne—AP

Charlie Baker has made it a tight race by courting Democrats

Politicians abhor dead silence. But for 31 seconds, Charlie Baker sat on a debate stage, staring at the ceiling, and wracking his brain for the answer to the thorniest question he’s fielded since he jumped into the race for Massachusetts governor last year. The question: Name a current politician who’s a role model for you. “Um… um…. You know, you’re kind of stumping me here,” Baker said. After 31 seconds of stammering and silence, he finally ventured, “Um, how about Jeb Bush?”

Baker has been locked in a tight race for governor of Massachusetts for months. Recent polls have shown him leading his Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Martha Coakley, by as little as a single point. Still, the most uncomfortable Baker has been all campaign hasn’t been in the final, frenetic dash toward Election Day, but in that primary campaign debate in late August, when he was forced to identify himself with another Republican.

That’s because Baker is a throwback to a kind of Republican politics that no longer exists at any meaningful scale. It’s what has the former health insurance company CEO within reach of the State House in Boston. But it’s also what makes the final step so difficult to pull off.

Baker is running without much company. The only other Republican in Massachusetts with a shot at major office is Richard Tisei, a former state legislator, and Baker’s 2010 running mate, who’s in a tight race for Congress in the suburbs north of Boston. “I think running as a moderate anything is more complicated than it used to be. That’s the nature of our politics these days,” Baker says. “I think having a different set of viewpoints within the Republican party in New England, and nationally, is a good thing, not a bad thing.”

Democrats dominate Massachusetts politics. The state Republican Party claims less than 11% of all registered voters. Massachusetts hasn’t sent a Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives since 1994. The outgoing governor, Deval Patrick, stormed into office on a campaign that political strategist David Axelrod used to test-drive the themes that took Barack Obama to the White House in 2008. The state flirted briefly with Scott Brown, then turned on him so violently that he fled across the border, to New Hampshire. In Brown’s place, Massachusetts voters installed Senator Elizabeth Warren, a populist who’s pulling the entire Democratic party leftward.

Yet Massachusetts voters have a history of electing a certain kind of Republican to lead the state. The last two Democratic governors are Patrick and Michael Dukakis; between the two of them lies a 16-year stretch of Republican rule. The problem for Baker is that moderate New England Republicans have almost vanished as a political force.

Baker, 57, has long been the state GOP’s brightest star. He rose to political prominence two decades ago in the cabinet of then-Governor Bill Weld. Weld was a Republican who rode a tax revolt into office, but he was so far to the left on social issues that he won in liberal enclaves like Cambridge and Amherst. Baker’s politics echo Weld’s. As health secretary and then budget chief for Weld and his successor, Paul Cellucci, Baker earned a reputation as a sharp policy mind and number cruncher, but was not known as an ideologue.

“He’s the smartest guy in the room, but he doesn’t act like it,” says Jay Ash, the city manager of Chelsea, a small, heavily Central American community just north of Boston. “He’s inquisitive, and he doesn’t dismiss people’s views. He’s open and engaging on the issues.”

“I worked in an administration that was pretty successful in working across the aisle to get stuff done with Democrats,” Baker says. “A lot of our successes were because we had two teams on the field, competition and political engagement. Whether voters decide that’s what they want or not is going to be up to them. I certainly wanted to run a race built on that kind of message and approach.”

Ash and Baker met in the early 1990’s, when Chelsea was operating in state fiscal receivership. They’ve been friends since, yet Baker didn’t get Ash’s vote four years ago, when Baker made his first run for governor. Baker’s 2010 campaign was filled with stunts meant to generate voter outrage, like displaying a prop welfare card that said it could be swiped for booze and lottery tickets at taxpayer expense. The disgruntled turnout wasn’t enough and Baker lost to Patrick with 42% of the vote.

The Massachusetts governor’s race is a redemption run for both Baker and Coakley. Coakley lost the 2010 contest for Ted Kennedy’s former Senate seat to Brown in spectacular fashion, and reporters are salivating over storylines about Coakley blowing another high-profile race against another Massachusetts Republican. Coakley has been a popular attorney general, though, and she’s run hard for governor. Their race is neck-and-neck less because Coakley has done something wrong, than because Baker has done a whole lot right.

Baker has managed to run for political office while mostly taking divisive politics off the table. He has beaten the drum on a few red meat Republican issues, like lowering taxes and hardening work rules for welfare. But the bulk of his campaign has been focused on education and economic opportunity, and in these areas, he’s driving a debate that’s less about political vision than it is about competence in managing government. He’s bent the race to his strengths, and made the contest a referendum on putting a policy wonk in the governor’s office.

Baker has also gone to lengths to play up his social liberalism, releasing campaign videos with his brother, who’s gay and married, and with his teenage daughter, who assures him on-camera, “You’re totally pro-choice and bipartisan.”

“Ideologically, he’s where the majority of people in Massachusetts are,” says Larry DiCara, a prominent Democratic attorney in Boston.

“In some states, he’d be a Democrat,” says Ash, who praises his friend’s current run. “He’s with Democrats and independents on social issues.”

Baker is also with Democrats in a more literal sense. On the trail, he has taken the fight to Coakley in the urban centers that normally hand Democrats lopsided vote margins. Baker is trying to raid the Democratic base, aggressively courting votes in Irish pubs and mill towns. He’s held over 150 campaign events in Boston — an unheard-of presence in a city where voters normally hang 40-plus-point losses on Republicans. Baker lost the city by 47 points in 2010; a recent WBUR poll had him cutting that deficit in half.

“You have to make the sale, but you can’t make the sale if you don’t show up,” Baker reasons.

And as he tries to close the deal, he’s doing it without much support from state Republicans. Massachusetts Democrats enjoy an enormous campaign volunteer base, the machinery of organized labor, and star power in Washington, DC. As the campaign entered the home stretch, Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Vice President Joe Biden all swung through to rally the party faithful for Coakley. Weld, who’s now working as a rainmaker at a Boston law firm, is the closest thing Baker has had to a star campaign surrogate.

Baker’s party doesn’t have the bodies to compete with Democrats on the grassroots level. (His campaign has knocked on 270,000 doors this election cycle, a huge number for a Massachusetts Republican; Elizabeth Warren’s campaign hit 240,000 doors in a single weekend two years ago.) But he has received one major outside boost: the Republican Governors Association PAC has spent more than $12 million on the race, over two-and-half times what they spent on the 2010 campaign and more than the combined spending of Baker and Coakley’s own campaigns.

But national Republicans will be hard-pressed to find broader lessons. If Baker wins, it will be because he won over Democratic voters and narrowed the daylight between his partisans, and Coakley’s. That isn’t a formula that has legs far outside Boston.

TIME People

Former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino Dies at 71

Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino
Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino W. Marc Bernsau—Boston Business Journal

Menino was the city's longest-serving mayor, who led for more than two decades

Thomas M. Menino, the beloved former mayor of Boston who led the city for more than two decades, died Thursday. He was 71, and his passing was confirmed in a statement on his Facebook page.

Menino, who served five terms in office to become the city’s longest-serving mayor, was diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer soon after stepping down earlier this year. Last week, Menino announced that he would stop chemotherapy treatment — and suspend a tour to promote his book Mayor for a New America — to spend more time with his family and friends.

“At just after 9:00am this morning the Honorable Thomas M. Menino passed into eternal rest after a courageous battle with cancer,” the statement said. “He was surrounded by his devoted wife Angela, loving family and friends. Mayor Menino, the longest serving Mayor of the City of Boston, led our city through a transformation of neighborhood resurgence and historic growth — leaving the job he loved, serving the city and people he loved this past January. We ask that you respect the families’ privacy during this time and arrangements for services will be announced soon.”

Menino is credited with overseeing the ascent of Boston’s skyline and leading the city through economic downturns to become a hub for business and technology. The city’s first mayor of Italian descent, according to the Boston Globe, Menino’s old-school political style won him the support of the city, leaving office with an approval rating of nearly 80%. A 2008 Globe poll found that more than half of the Boston respondents said they had met him personally.

Read TIME’s 2013 profile of Menino here: The Last of the Big-City Bosses

TIME Crime

Child Rape Suspect Caught in New York

Gregory Lewis had been spotted in a handful of states since he fled Massachusetts in August

A Massachusetts man accused of raping a child who had been on the run since September was arrested late Tuesday in New York, authorities said.

Gregory Lewis, 26, was also wanted in several states in connection with a series of sexual assaults, kidnappings, and armed robberies, CNN reports. He’s accused of robbing, assaulting, and handcuffing several victims who he met online.

Lewis was arrested Tuesday after fleeing New York state troopers attempting to pull him over for driving with a missing license plate, authorities said. Lewis later crashed his car into a river. The suspect, who had been charged with four counts of felony child rape in August, fled Massachusets after cutting off his GPS-monitoring bracelet. Lewis had been seen in Charlotte, Denver, Portland, Boise, and Salt Lake City since he fled.

[CNN]

MONEY Health Care

The Price of Health Care Is Finally Public (in One State)

Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston Michael Dwyer—Alamy

This month Massachusetts rolled out total medical price transparency. What can you learn from these new shopping tools?

Without much fanfare, Massachusetts launched a new era of health care shopping last week.

Anyone with private health insurance in the state can now go to his or her health insurer’s website and find the price of everything from an office visit to an MRI to a Cesarean section. For the first time, health care prices are public.

It’s a seismic event. Ten years ago, I filed Freedom of Information Act requests to get cost information in Massachusetts—nothing. Occasionally over the years, I’d receive manila envelopes with no return address, or secure .zip files with pricing spreadsheets from one hospital or another.

Then two years ago, Massachusetts passed a law that pushed health insurers and hospitals to start making this once-vigorously guarded information more public. Now as of Oct. 1, Massachusetts is the first state to require that insurers offer real-time prices by provider in consumer-friendly formats.

“This is a very big deal,” said Undersecretary for Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation Barbara Anthony. “Let the light shine in on health care prices.”

There are caveats.

1. Prices are not standard, they vary from one insurer and provider to the next. I shopped for a bone density test. The low price was $16 at Tufts Health Plan, $87 on the Harvard-Pilgrim Health Care site and $190 at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Why? Insurers negotiate their own rates with physicians and hospitals, and these vary too. Some of the prices include all charges related to your test, others don’t (see No. 2).

2. Posted prices may or may not include all charges, for example the cost of reading a test or a facility fee. Each insurer is defining “price” as it sees fit. Read the fine print.

3. Prices seem to change frequently. The first time I shopped for a bone density test at Blue Cross, the low price was $120. Five days later it had gone up to $190.

4. There is no standard list of priced tests and procedures. I found the price of an MRI for the upper back through Harvard Pilgrim’s Now iKnow tool. That test is “not found” through the Blue Cross “Find a Doc” tool.

5. Information about the quality of care is weak. Most of what you’ll see are patient satisfaction scores. There is little hard data about where you’ll get better care. This is not necessarily the insurer’s fault, because the data simply doesn’t exist for many tests.

6. There are very few prices for inpatient care, such as a surgery or an illness that would keep you in the hospital overnight. Most of the prices you’ll find are for outpatient care.

These tools are not perfect, but they are unlike anything else in the country. While a few states are moving toward more health care price transparency, none have gone as far as Massachusetts to make the information accessible to consumers. Tufts Health Plan Director of Commercial Product Strategy Athelstan Bellerand said the new tools “are a major step in the right direction.” Bellerand added: “They will help patients become more informed consumers of health care.”

Patients can finally have a sense of how much a test or procedure will cost in advance. They can see that some doctors and hospitals are a lot more expensive than others. For me, a bone density test would cost $190 at Harvard Vanguard and $445 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The most frequent early users of the newly disclosed data are probably providers. Anthony says some of the more expensive physicians and hospitals react with, “I don’t want to be the highest priced provider on your website. I thought I was lower than my competitors.”

Anthony is hoping that will generate more competition and drive down prices.

“I’m just talking about sensible rational pricing, which health prices are anything but,” she added.

Take, for example, the cost of an upper back MRI.

“The range here is $614 to $1,800, so three times,” said Sue Amsel, searching “Now I Know,” the tool she manages at Harvard Pilgrim. “That to me is a very big range.”

In this case, the most expensive MRI is at Boston Children’s Hospital and the lowest cost option is at New England Baptist, with no apparent difference in quality.

“It’s not just for choosing. It’s primarily for getting you the information, about whatever you’re having done, so you can plan for it,” she said.

Most of us don’t have to plan for anything except our co-pay. But about 15% of commercial insurance plans have high deductible plans, in which patients pay the full cost of an office visit or test up to the amount of their deductible, and that number is growing.

“As more and more members are faced with greater and greater cost share, this sort of information is really important,” said Bill Gerlach, director of member decision support at Blue Cross.

To use these tools, you’ll log in on to your insurer’s website. If you have a high deductible, the online calculator shows how much you’ve spent so far this year toward your deductible. If your coverage does not include a deductible, the tool will calculate the balance towards your out-of-pocket maximum.

All these numbers are confusing. Most of us haven’t thought about shopping for health care or paid attention to how much we spend. The state and most of the insurers are rolling out education campaigns to help us wrestle with the previously hidden world of health care prices.

One last tip: Each insurer uses a different title for its calculator. Look for the Blue Cross cost calculator under “Find a Doctor.” It’s not as easy to find as Tufts’ “Empower Me” page or Harvard Pilgrim’s “Now iKnow.”

Both Tufts and Harvard Pilgrim used Castlight Health to build and now run their shopping tools while Blue Cross contracted with Vitals.

Aetna was the first insurer in Massachusetts to offer cost and quality comparisons through its Member Payment Estimator. It’s not clear if all insurers doing business in the Bay State met the Oct. 1 deadline, but all of the major players did. There is no penalty for those who failed to do so.

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Read more on how to research and manage your health care costs:

MONEY best places to live

The 5 Best Places To Find a Spouse With a Job

141003_BPL_SpouseWithJob
A bride and groom on a beach at the water's edge in Kirkland, Washington. Kirkland is a top place for both men and women to find a spouse. Design Pics Inc.—Alamy

Looking for that special someone? Hoping he or she will be gainfully employed? Here's where to start your search.

There are lots of things to consider when choosing a place to live. How’s the job market? How much do people make? How affordable is it? And for those looking for love, the real question is: “Where are all the nice, single guys/girls?” And on that count, Pew Research might be able to help.

On Thursday, the data firm released a list of the country’s major metro areas with the highest ratio of employed, young (25-34) single men to young women, and vice versa. Pew included employment status based on the results of a recent poll, which found that 78% of never-married women think having a spouse with a steady job is “very important” (only 46% of never-married men agreed). The interactive map, available here, is a nationwide guide to the places where you have the best odds of finding an eligible bachelor or bachelorette.

But while we now know where the singles are, Pew doesn’t give us any clues about whether we’d actually want to live in any of these locations. That’s where MONEY’s Best Places data comes in. We’ve cross referenced our list of America’s best small cities with the new report, looking for cities that fall within Pew’s top major metro areas for finding love. Or at least a good shot at getting hitched.

The Top Five Cities For Those Interested in Men:

Castle Rock, Colo.

Best Small Cities rank: 4

Pew Metro Area rank: 2

# of employed single young men for every 100 single young women: 101

Maple Grove, Minn.

Best Small Cities rank: 2

Pew Metro Area rank: 4

# of employed single young men for every 100 single young women: 98

Eagan, Minn.

Best Small Cities rank: 2

Pew Metro Area rank: 4

# of employed single young men for every 100 single young women: 98

Kirkland, Wash.

Best Small Cities rank: 5

Pew Metro Area rank: 5

# of employed single young men for every 100 single young women: 92

Reston, Va.

Best Small Cities rank: 10

Pew Metro Area rank: 7

# of employed single young men for every 100 single young women: 92

 

The Top 5 Cities For Those Interested in Women:

Kirkland, Wash.

Best Small Cities rank: 5

Pew Metro Area rank: 1

# of employed single young women for every 100 single young men: 78

Reston, Va.

Best Small Cities rank: 10

Pew Metro Area rank: 1

# of employed single young women for every 100 single young men: 78

Newton, Mass.

Best Small Cities rank: 15

Pew Metro Area rank: 6

# of employed single young women for every 100 single young men: 74

Brookline, Mass.

Best Small Cities rank: 21

Pew Metro Area rank: 6

# of employed single young women for every 100 single young men: 74

Columbia/Ellicott City, Md.

Best Small Cities rank: 6

Pew Metro Area rank: 7

# of employed single young women for every 100 single young men: 74

 

More Best Places:

 

TIME Crime

The Boston Marathon Bombing Trial Will Stay in Boston

Boston Marathon Bombing
This photo released April 19, 2013, by the FBI shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev AP

Judge denies defense request to hold proceedings in another state and says that finding an impartial jury in Massachusetts is possible

The defense’s request to move the alleged Boston Marathon bomber’s trial outside Massachusetts has been denied by a federal judge in Boston, who did not agree with the contention that finding an impartial jury in the state would be impossible.

The judge did grant a request to delay the trial — but by two months only and not the 10 months the defense team had asked for.

The trial is now set for Jan. 5, 2015, at the federal courthouse in Boston — about 2 miles from the Boston Marathon finish line, where two pressure-cooker bombs detonated on April, 15, 2013, killing three people and wounding more than 260 others.

Lawyers for 21-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — who is accused of leaving the bombs at the race, as well as of shooting to death a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer while seeking to evade arrest — suggested that more than a year of aggressive media coverage of the bombings had made it impossible to recruit an impartial jury.

But Judge George O’Toole found on Wednesday that Massachusetts, home to 5 million people, afforded sufficient opportunity.

“It stretches the imagination to suggest that an impartial jury cannot be selected from this large pool of potential jurors,” he wrote.

Tsarnaev faces 30 charges, some of which carry the death sentence. His lawyers have contended that his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev — who was killed in a shoot-out with police after the bombings — was a dominant, persuasive force in the younger brother’s life and the true mastermind of the attacks.

O’Toole’s 10-page decision leans in part on precedent set in the 2006 trial of Enron’s CEO, Jeffrey Skilling, who lost his bid to move the proceedings out of Houston.

The judge said the decision in that case rested different factors including the size and characteristics of the district and the quantity and nature of the media coverage.

O’Toole said that although media coverage of the Tsarnaev case had been “extensive,” it had not “been so inflamed and pervasively prejudiced” as to make it impossible to find a fair jury in the state.

He also said that jurors were not required to have never heard about an alleged crime before entering the courtroom, but were asked to judge the accused purely on the evidence presented in court.

“It is doubtful whether a jury could be selected anywhere in the country whose members were wholly unaware of the Marathon bombings,” said O’Toole. “The Constitution does not oblige them to be.”

TIME 2014 Election

Cosmopolitan Ditches ‘Sexiest Man’ Scott Brown in Senate Race

Scott Brown
In this Sept. 12, 2014 photo, Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown speaks during a campaign event at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H. Elise Amendola—AP

Does he get no thanks for posing nude back in '82?

Cosmopolitan is “picking brains over brawn” in the 2014 Senate race in New Hampshire: the magazine is endorsing not Scott Brown, its 1982 “Sexiest Man in America,” but his competitor, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, the magazine said Tuesday.

“While we wish we could support the man who once posed nude in our pages, his policy positions just aren’t as solid as his abs were in the ’80s,” Cosmo said of the Republican candidate, a onetime Senator from Massachusetts who has decamped to the Granite State.

Cosmo added that Brown lagged behind incumbent candidate Shaheen in clarifying his positions on key women’s issues, including access to reproductive care.

“Brown said he disapproved of cutting family planning funding, but also supported a bill to defund Planned Parenthood,” Cosmo said. “And when reporters tried to ask him about his views on contraception access, he literally hid in the bathroom to avoid answering the question.”

In June 1982, Cosmo ran a two-page centerfold of a beaming, naked Brown, the winner of its “Sexiest Man in America” contest and then a 22-year-old law student at Boston College.

Two decades later, when Brown was a Senator and running for re-election in Massachusetts (he lost to the liberal Elizabeth Warren), Cosmo again lauded him as looking “pretty damn good for his age,” quipping “Vote for Brown. He Has One Hell of a Stimulus Package.”

Polls in New Hampshire have shown a tight race between Shaheen and Brown, who appears to be buoyed by the state’s discontent with President Barack Obama.

TIME 2014 elections

Losing Among Women, Republican Scott Brown Offers Them Awards

Scott Brown Campaign Rally
Former Sen. Scott Brown, candidate for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, holds a campaign town hall rally at the Pinkerton Academy in Derry, N.H., on Aug. 18, 2014. Bill Clark—CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

The recipient is puzzled and embarrassed by the honor

Janice Leahy, a small businesswoman in New Hampshire, still doesn’t understand why Republican senate candidate Scott Brown gave her a “hero” award when they met in May. “I’m an ordinary person,” Leahy tells TIME. “I’m no hero. I don’t look at myself as person of stature or significance or anything else.”

Armed with spreadsheets, Leahy had met with Brown at a diner in Windham to talk about the burden of Obamacare on her small software and professional services businesses. That’s when he presented her with a polished black plaque, emblazoned with the words, “Women for Scott Brown.” A press release followed. “I’m pleased to award Janice with a Hero Award to celebrate her determination to maintain a business despite government red tape and burdensome regulations that make for a very tough environment not only for women-oriented businesses, but for everyone,” Brown said in the statement. “That’s why I support full repeal of Obamacare.”

Leahy, a Republican, says she was left confused and embarrassed by the whole episode. She also says she is not sure she will vote for Brown in November, given his 2012 vote against an equal pay bill, an issue close to her heart given that she works in a male-dominated industry. “I’m not happy about his vote against it and I would need to know more about it before I vote for him,” Leahy says. “I haven’t decided yet which way I’ll vote in November.”

The episode is emblematic for Brown, who has been struggling to connect with women in his bid to unseat Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. Although Brown and Shaheen are neck-and-neck in polls overall—with Brown garnering 44% of likely voters to Shaheen’s 46%—Brown is losing women to Shaheen by 39% to 53%, according to an Aug. 21 WMUR Granite State poll.

He has tried to chip away at this deficit on the campaign trail. Brown’s campaign defines “The Women for Brown ‘Hero’ Awards” as commendations “meant to recognize individuals who are contributing to the economic life of New Hampshire, helping our community thrive and building strong families, sometimes despite adverse circumstances.” Emails to the campaign asking about how the honorees are selected went unanswered.

The awards have been timed to underscore policy talking points the campaign has sought to spread. The second plaque was given to Naswa Resorts owner Cynthia Markis and her mother, Hope, for operating their business despite high energy and Obamacare costs. And Brown gave a third award to Commandant Peggy LaBrecque, who runs the state’s only longterm care facility for veterans, on Veterans Day, using the event to highlight a package of veterans policy initiatives he unveiled that day. Repeated calls for comment to Markis and LaBrecque went unanswered.

Shaheen is the first woman in U.S. history to be elected both governor and senator. If Brown loses, he’ll also make history: He’d be the first man to lose two Senate races to two women. In 2012, he lost his Senate seat in neighboring Massachusetts to Elizabeth Warren. Shaheen’s campaign says Brown’s awards are patronizing towards women. “New Hampshire women aren’t looking for plaques, they are looking for a Senator who stands up equal pay for equal work and protecting access to basic health services like mammograms —and Scott Brown has proven he can’t be trusted to do that,” says Harrell Kirstein, a Shaheen campaign spokesman.

Brown’s challenge is shared by Republicans across the country. Unlike 2010, the GOP wave year when Republicans won the female vote for the first time since Ronald Reagan, women have helped Democrats stay competitive so far in several races across the country this year, including New Hampshire, North Carolina and Louisiana. Democrats have made a concerted effort to appeal to female voters, hoping to avoid another wave of losses like in 2010. They’ve introduced a women’s economic agenda and have repeatedly hit Republicans for waging a ‘War on Women,’ over access to abortion and contraceptives.

Leahy says she now sees the award as a thing meant to mean more for Brown than her. “I think it’s his push to show women in the area he understands inherently their issues, what’s near and dear in their hearts,” Leahy says.

But she noted that Brown has a tough task ahead of him, given the pride the state now has in having an entirely female Congressional delegation, which includes Brown’s rival Shaheen. “I do think it’s the coolest historical thing that we have full female congressional delegation,” Leahy said. “Being a woman, I like that that’s brought to the forefront all the time.”

TIME weather

Tornado Does Damage to Revere, Mass.

“Given the magnitude of the storm, it’s really a miracle that no one sustained more serious injuries,” Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo told the Associated Press.

A storm that swept through the Boston area Sunday night hit the coastal city of about 53,000 people, leaving felled trees, shattered windows and rattled residents.

 

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