STATE HOUSE -- Candidates for statewide offices are preparing to spend down campaign kitties on expensive ads, readying for high stakes debates and forums, and trying to connect with Massachusetts voters, many of whom are trying to disconnect from the daily grind and enjoy summer with family and friends in the three-plus weeks remaining before primary elections on Sept. 9. They're also on guard for the blindsides that appear inevitable from super PACS as Massachusetts hosts its first governor's race since the Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United decision that has enabled wealthy interests to have a major impact on campaigns through ads.

As is always the case, turning out voters to the polls will be the greatest challenge for candidates in an election cycle that comes on the heels of a seemingly endless string of special elections and which has so far generated a relatively low public response despite wide open races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and treasurer. While debates and the natural buildup to elections will draw voters, the campaigns are mindful of low turnout potential, sparked in part by the dearth of contested legislative primaries.

Meanwhile, a legislative skeleton crew has been keeping the lawmaking machine running since formal sessions ended July 31. Lawmakers this week sent Gov.


Deval Patrick bills aimed at expediting the major redevelopment of a former military base in South Weymouth (H 4372), laying out new criminal laws to prosecute retail thieves who use devices to avoid magnetic theft detectors (H 1474), toughening penalties and imposing other measures to reduce instances of animal abuse in Massachusetts (S 2345), establishing uniform wage compliance and record keeping (S 858), and establishing Ataxia Awareness Day (S 2007). Patrick has until Thursday to act on a bill (H 4303) allowing interior designers to bid on state contracts.

SATURDAY, AUG. 16, 2014

SALES TAX HOLIDAY: While there was little suspense over whether it would occur, the dates of this year's sales tax holiday were not formally set until this week when Gov. Patrick signed an economic development bill. The law means the 6.25 percent sales tax will be suspended on Saturday and Sunday on most purchases. Retailers and elected officials are urging people to make tax-free purchases to give store owners a lift during a normally lower volume time of the year. The Legislature in 2009 increased the sales tax from 5 percent to 6.25 percent and voters in 2010 rejected an initiative petition lowering the sales tax rate to 3 percent. (Saturday and Sunday)

SHERIFF EVANGELIDIS PICNIC: Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis will hold the annual senior picnic, which will include food and games. (Saturday, 11 a.m., SAC Park, Shrewsbury)

WAGE GROUPS CELEBRATE AT THE BEACH: Groups supporting a $15 minimum wage for some workers plan to hold a family-friendly event with free food, entertainment and health resources for the public. A coalition of wage advocates, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Jobs with Justice, MassUniting, the NAACP, and others will host the community fair. (Saturday, 6 p.m., Carson Beach, Mother's Rest Area near Gazebo, Dorchester)

RALLY AGAINST FOOTPRINT POWER: Activists organized by Grassroots Against Another Salem Power Plant, Better Future Project, Climate Summer and HealthLink rally to protest "sweetheart" deals for the Footprint Power gas plant. According to a press release, Footprint Power has proposed to build a gas plant in Salem Harbor and has asked energy regulators to waive usual fines and penalties. A festival will follow the rally, which will feature music and children's activities. (Saturday, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Derby Wharf, Salem)

COAKLEY COURTS WOMEN VOTERS: Attorney General Martha Coakley, a Democrat running for governor, launches a "Women's Weekend of Action" on the campaign trail. Campaign workers will canvas in Arlington, Barnstable, Boston, Brockton, Danvers, Falmouth, Framingham, Gloucester, Greenfield, Harwich, Holyoke, Lexington, Medford, Milford, Natick, Northampton, Shrewsbury, Somerville, Taunton and Waltham. Coakley will join Rep. Ann Margaret Ferrante in Gloucester Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and 1199 SEIU Executive Vice President Veronica Turner at the union's headquarters in Dorchester at 2:30 p.m. On Sunday, Coakley visits Dracut, Woburn and joins Rep. Marjorie Decker in Cambridge to receive her endorsement. Coakley's campaign hopes to reach over 6,000 voters across the state throughout the weekend. (Saturday and Sunday)

SUNDAY, AUG. 17, 2014

BAKER AND FISHER DEBATE: Republican candidates for governor Mark Fisher and Charles Baker take part in a debate on WBZ-TV moderated by Jon Keller. The debate was taped Friday morning and is set to air Sunday. With time ticking down to the Sept. 9 primary election, Fisher has only a few weeks to overcome a significant disadvantage against Baker in the polls. Fisher told reporters Wednesday if a strong contingent of Tea Party-aligned Republicans vote in the primary, he can beat Baker, the expected GOP nominee. (Sunday, 8:30 a.m., WBZ-TV)

GOV. O'MALLEY IN N.H. | Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a potential candidate for president, is set to attend a Strafford County Democrats picnic fundraiser Sunday in Somersworth, N.H., according to The New Hampshire Institute of Politics. (Sunday, noon - 3 p.m., Millennium Park, Somersworth, N.H.)

MONDAY, AUG. 18, 2014

HOUSE AND SENATE: Both branches are scheduled to meet in informal sessions Monday at 11 a.m.

CHELSEA SILVER LINE MEETING: MassDOT holds a public meeting on a proposed plan to extend the Silver Line bus system to Chelsea. The Silver Line Gateway project is set to extend the bus route into Chelsea and East Boston from Boston's Seaport District. (Monday, 6 p.m., Chelsea City Hall, Council Chambers, 500 Broadway, Chelsea)

PATRICK IN BERKSHIRES: Gov. Deval Patrick plans to spend the week at his home in the Berkshires. According to Patrick press secretary Heather Nichols, Patrick will makes some calls and hold meetings as necessary as well as hold a few public events. "But like most people, he's also going to try to take some summer downtime to spend with family and friends, to the extent he's able," Nichols told the News Service. (Monday)

EPA TO ANNOUNCE FUNDING TO MYSTIC RIVER: The Environmental Protection Agency will announce funding that will assist ongoing efforts to improve water quality in the Mystic River Watershed. The funds are from the 2014 Urban Waterways grant program. EPA regional administrator Curt Spalding, deputy director of the Mystic River Watershed Association Patrick Herron and Staci Rubin from Alternatives for Community & Environment are scheduled to attend. (Monday, 10 a.m., 200 Rivers Edge Drive, Medford)

CAPE COD MOSQUITO PROJECT: The commissioners for the Cape Cod Mosquito Project plan to meet to receive a mosquito update, a UMass study update and a conversation with Tara Zadeh. (Monday, 1 p.m., 259 Willow St., Suite 3, Yarmouth Port)

MBTA JANITOR RALLY: Trying to avoid 100 job cuts, the MBTA janitors union says hundreds of people will rally outside the State House in a "March of Roses" to "demand dignity and respect." The T switched to performance-based contracts for cleaning the stations, and the union says jobs will be cut Sept. 1 and service will deteriorate. The union, SEIU 32BJ, said City Councilor Josh Zakim and other groups will attend the rally. (Monday, 3:30 p.m., meeting at Intersection of Beacon and Park streets)

GREEN-RAINBOW CANDIDATES TURN IN SIGNATURES: Candidates under the Green-Rainbow banner plan to file enough signatures with the Secretary of State's office to qualify for the ballot in three statewide races. The candidates are Danny Factor for Secretary of the Commonwealth, Ian Jackson for Treasurer and M.K. Merelice for Auditor. After dropping off signature forms in Boston, the candidates will travel the state to drop off forms to district offices in Fall River and Springfield. The Green-Rainbow group says they have collected over 6,600 certified signatures of voters to put the three candidates on the November ballot. (Monday, 9:30 a.m., Elections Division Office, One Ashburton Place, Room 1705, Boston)

ALBANO HOSTS FRANKLIN COUNTY JUDICIAL HEARING: Governor's Councilor Michael Albano will host a meeting to gain public input on the nomination of attorney David Dacyczyn, Gov. Patrick's pick to for a seat on the Probate and Family Court in Franklin County. Councillor Robert Jubinville of Milton also plans to attend the hearing. A formal confirmation hearing with the full council is planned for Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the State House. (Monday, 3:30 p.m., Franklin County Court, 101 Munson Street, Greenfield, Court Room 1)

CENSUS BRIEFING: The Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics plan to conduct a technical briefing to provide background information on various measures of health insurance coverage. The event will be streamed live. (Monday, Washington D.C., time TBD)

TSONGAS IN OHIO: U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) visits Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Tsongas will visit the district of fellow U.S. Rep. Mike Turner,a Republican who she serves with on the House Armed Services Committee. The pair plan to tour Tsongas' district Tuesday.

MASS TOMATO CONTEST: The Boston Public Market Association hosts the 30th annual Massachusetts tomato contest. A panel of judges will judge tomatoes based on flavor, firmness, slicing quality, color and shape. The event is co-sponsored by the New England Vegetable and Berry Growers Association in cooperation with the MDAR and Mass Farmers' Markets. (Monday, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Boston Public Market Farmers' Market, 136 Blackstone Street, Boston)

CAPE COD HEALTH CENTERS: The Partnership for Community Health, an initiative of Neighborhood Health Plan and Partners HealthCare in partnership with the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, awards $3 million in grant funding for community health centers in Cape Cod. Community health centers grantees in Cape Cod are sharing the $3 million in grant funding with other community health center across the state. Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz is scheduled to attend. (Monday, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., Harbor Community Health Center-Hyannis, 735 Attucks Lane, Hyannis)

TUESDAY, AUG. 19, 2014

EDUCATION SECRETARY ON NECN: Secretary of Education Matt Malone will be live on NECN's Morning News as part of NECN's back-to-school week. According to the secretary's office, close to 1 million K-12 students at about 1,866 schools across Massachusetts will start heading back to classrooms the last week of August and the first and second weeks of September. (Tuesday, 8:30 a.m., NECN, 160 Wells Ave, Newton)

DEMS DEBATE AT STONEHILL GUV FORUM: The Joseph Martin Institute for Law & Society at Stonehill College hosts a gubernatorial forum with the Democratic candidates - Don Berwick, Martha Coakley and Steven Grossman. The forum also will have a panel discussion, featuring Christopher Burrell of The Patriot Ledger, WCVB-TV political reporter Janet Wu and Massachusetts political editor for GateHouse Media Rick Holmes. Steve Kornacki, host of MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki," will moderate the discussion. (Tuesday, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., Stonehill College, 320 Washington Street, Easton)

EPA ADMIN CITES HEALTH EFFECTS: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will host a discussion with medical professionals on the health benefits associated with actions the EPA has taken. McCarthy will will be joined by Tufts Medical Center CEO Dr. Michael Wagner, Boston Public Health Commission Executive Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer, American Lung Association of the Northeast CEO Jeff Seyler and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely-Bartlett. (Tuesday, 12:30 p.m. with a 1:15 p.m. press availability, Tufts Medical Center, Proger Board Room, 800 Washington St., Boston)

CERTIFICATION DEADLINE: The end-of-business Tuesday is the final opportunity for registrars of voters in municipalities to complete certification of signatures for non-party candidates for federal and statewide offices. (Tuesday, 5 p.m.)

GROSSMAN AT JIMMY FUND TELETHON: Treasurer Steven Grossman will stop by the 13th annual WEEI/NECN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon to present a $171,000 check from the state unclaimed property division. Proceeds will go to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and the presentation will occur during a live interview on WEEI/NECN, according to Grossman's office. (Tuesday, 11 a.m., Fenway Park, Boston)

TSONGAS AND GOP CO-CHAIR TOUR DISTRICT: U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) is set to host fellow U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) for a series of meetings, tours and roundtable discussions related to the work of the House Armed Services Committee they both serve on. Topics will include military sexual assault and economic development. Tsongas and Turner co-chair the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus. The pair will tour New Balance's manufacturing facility in Lawrence, conduct a roundtable with defense sector officials at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and will tour Hanscom Air Force Base and MIT's Lincoln Laboratories to see new technology developed for the military. According to Tsongas' office, media is encouraged to attend the New Balance tour and Defense Roundtable. (Tuesday)

CLEAN ENERGY CENTER CEO DELIVERS KEYNOTE: Massachusetts Clean Energy Center CEO Alicia Barton discusses the role energy storage will play in the state's renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals. Barton is scheduled to deliver a keynote address of the Northeastern University's 2nd Annual International Conference on Multi-Scale Renewable Energy Storage. (Tuesday, 10 a.m., Raytheon Amphitheater, Egan Research Center Building, Northeastern University, 120 Forsyth St., Boston)

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 20, 2014

LAST DAY TO REGISTER FOR PRIMARY: Wednesday is the last day to register to vote or to change party enrollment before primary day on Sept. 9. Registration sessions run from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. In 2010, 487,817 people voted in the Democratic primary and 241,069 voted in the Republican primary. In 2006, 926,402 people voted in the Democratic primary and 85,770 voted in the GOP primary. The governor's office was wide open in 2006, with Patrick squaring off that year against Attorney General Thomas Reilly and venture capitalist Chris Gabrieli. Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey was unopposed in the 2006 Republican primary for governor. (Wednesday, 9 a.m.)

FRANKLIN PROBATE COURT NOMINEE: The Governor's Council will interview David Dacyczyn, the governor's nominee for a Franklin County probate court judgeship and an a Navy reserve captain who served in active duty in Afghanistan from April 2011 to June 2012. Dacyczyn supervised 70 members of the military and more than 200 civilian contractors, and worked in the area of biometric equipment with responsibility for more than $35 million in equipment. A New England School of Law graduate, Dacyczyn was the police academy director from 1985 to 1992, worked for Greenfield law firms from 1992 to 2000, and is the judicial case manager at Hampshire Probate and Family Court. He lives in South Deerfield and is a member of the Deerfield Finance Committee. (Wednesday, 11 a.m., Governor's Council Chamber)

FRAMINGHAM DISTRICT COURT NOMINEE: The Governor's Council will interview Lynn Coffin Brendemuehl, who worked years ago for one of the councilor's law firms, and is the governor's nominee for a judgeship at Framingham District Court. Brendemuehl, who lists addresses in Nantucket and Natick, worked for the firm Iannella and Mummolo from 1986 to 1997 doing personal injury work. Councilor Christopher Iannella is a partner at the firm. Brendemuehl, a Suffolk University Law School graduate, has worked at the Department of Industrial Accidents as an administrative judge since December 2000. Brendemuehl worked for the Highway Department briefly in 2000 and at the Social Security Administration for two years. Councilors often question nominees about whether they have a balance of criminal and civil trial experience. (Wednesday, 1 p.m., Governor's Council Chambers)

SHERIFF ASHE CLAMBAKE: Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe, who first won office in 1974, is holding his 37th annual clambake. The event is a big draw for people around the area, and the sheriff plans to serve clam chowder, hot dogs and hamburgers, clams, and a steak or chicken dinner. Tickets are $50, and proceeds will be donated to the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association of America. (Wednesday, starting at 11 a.m., Elks Lodge, 440 Tiffany St. Springfield)

MALONE EDUCATION ROUNDTABLE: Secretary of Education Matt Malone will host a back-to-school ethnic media roundtable. It's open to all media, according to an aide. Media planning to attend, please RSVP to Liz Cooper; (Wednesday, 12:30 p.m., One Ashburton Place, Boston)

GUBERNATORIAL FORUM ON HEALTH CARE: The Dimock Center hosts a gubernatorial forum focusing on health care delivery, reform and future initiatives in collaboration with the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and the Massachusetts Association of Community Health. Candidates Mark Fisher, Don Berwick, Martha Coakley, Steven Grossman, Evan Falchuk, Jeffrey McCormick and Scott Lively are scheduled to attend. Former Gov. Michael Dukakis will moderate the forum. (Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Dimock Center Campus, 55 Dimock Street, Roxbury)

ROCK 'N REAL ESTATE CRUISE: NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, hosts its 4th annual rock 'n real estate harbor cruise. The cruise features cocktails, networking and live music by B11. Hors d'oeuvres and two drink tickets are included with each ticket. An after party hosted by Synergy Investments will follow the cruise, and will take place on the upper floor of Bostonia Public House. (Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., M/V New Boston Vessel, 60 Rowes Wharf, Boston)

LIFEGUARD COMPETITION: Over 50 lifeguards from DCR's various waterfront and pool facilities will compete in the 2014 DCR lifeguard competition. Competitors will take part in five events on water and public safety. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., DCR's Revere Beach Shirley Avenue Bathhouse, Revere)

FUNDER FOR LEOMINSTER SENATOR IN BOSTON: Senate President Therese Murray and Majority Leader Stanley Rosenberg, who is expected to succeed Murray on the rostrum next year, plan to attend a campaign kickoff for Sen. Jennifer Flanagan. Donations are suggested at $100, $250 and $500 levels for the fund raiser at one of Beacon Hill's most popular event spots. Flanagan failed to get on the Democratic ballot due to improper paperwork earlier this year and is running for re-election through a write-in campaign. She is challenged by former Gardner Rep. Richard Bastien, who is waging his own write-in effort on the Republican side. (Wednesday, 5:30 p.m., Carrie Nation, 11 Beacon Street, Boston)

THURSDAY, AUG. 21, 2014

HOUSE AND SENATE: Both branches meet in informal sessions at 11 a.m.

REPUBLICAN GUV DEBATE: Charlie Baker and Mark Fisher will square off in a debate at Middlesex Community College co-sponsored by The Lowell Sun. (Thursday, 3 p.m., Middlesex Community College - Federal Building, 50 Kearney Square, Lowell)

INDIE CANDIDATES DEBATE: Independent candidates Evan Falchuk and Jeff McCormick will meet on the debate stage at Middlesex Community College in a debate co-sponsored by The Lowell Sun. (Thursday, 1 p.m., Middlesex Community College - Federal Building, 50 Kearney Square, Lowell)

DEMS FOR AG DEBATE: Democratic candidates for the office of attorney general Warren Tolman and Maura Healey tape a television debate for WCVB's 'On the Record' program with moderators Ed Harding and Janet Wu. The debate is set to air Sunday, Aug. 24 at 11 a.m. Press space is limited and the station requests any media planning to cover the debate from the studio to RSVP.(Thursday, 10 a.m., WCVB-TV Headquarters, 5 TV PL, Needham)

GAMING COMMISSION: The Gaming Commission will hold an open meeting with topics that could include a progress report on MGM in Springfield, an update on racing legislation and schedule changes, and a discussion of the eastern Massachusetts casino license. (Thursday, 10:30 a.m., Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Room 102B)

MONOMOY REGIONAL: Secretary of Education Matt Malone, Treasurer Steven Grossman and Mass. School Building Authority Executive Director Jack McCarthy will attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Monomoy Regional High School. (Thursday, 11 a.m., 75 Oak Street, Harwich)

SIGNATURE REVIEW DEADLINES: The end-of-business Thursday is the final opportunity for non-party candidates for federal and statewide offices to apply for a review of non-certified signatures with local clerk. (Thursday, 5 p.m.)

FRIDAY, AUG. 22, 2014

COMMENTS DUE ON DMA REGULATIONS: Public comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday on Division of Medical Assistance regulations removing the 20-day coverage limit for acute inpatient stays for members 21 years old and older, effective Oct. 1, 2014. According to the division, the regulations revise MassHealth payments to out-of-state acute hospitals for inpatient services to align more closely to in-state acute hospital inpatient payment methods. The regulations are expected to cause an $11.77 million increase in expenditures.