Moments after town-by-town Census figures were released this morning, the state pulled the information off its web site and confirmed the numbers had been miscalculated.

“The original numbers were in error,” said Brian McNiff, a spokesman for Secretary of State William Galvin, told The Salem News. “The errors are being corrected. The numbers will be put back up early this afternoon.”

McNiff said he didn’t know how the miscalculations happened or how many communities’ figures were incorrectly tabulated. He also didn’t know whether the mistakes were made by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Secretary of State’s office, or another agency.

“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “… At this point, we’re trying to get the right numbers up.”

State officials plan to hold a second press conference to release the corrected numbers later today.

Galvin held a press conference earlier this morning to release populations for each community across the commonwealth. Around the same time, the state posted the data on its web site, leading many news agencies to begin transmitting the numbers via Twitter and other formats.

Now, state officials are scrambling to get corrected numbers in order.

“They’re wrong, and we want to get them right,” said McNiff.

–Chris Cassidy
12:52 p.m.

The Secretary of State has just released 2010 town-by-town Census numbers. Here are the population figures for the North Shore:

Town/CITY    2000     2010           +/-%
BEVERLY          39,862   39,290        -1.43%
Boxford               7,921       7,965       +0.56%
Danvers             25,212    26,476       +5.01%
Hamilton            8,315        7,758        -6.7%
Ipswich             12,987     13,171       +1.42%
Marblehead     20,377    19,666       -3.49%
Middleton           7,744     8,987     +16.05%
PEABODY         48,129     51,062      +6.09%
SALEM               40,407     41,272    +2.14%
Swampscott     14,412      13,744      -4.64%
Topsfield             6,141         6,085     -0.91%
Wenham              4,440        4,875     +9.8%

–Chris Cassidy
11:24 a.m.

UPDATE #1: As of 11:45 a.m., the numbers released by Secretary of State William Galvin have come down from the state web site, replaced by a banner reporting that the numbers were “coming soon.” The numbers now appear to be disputed. –11:45 a.m.

UPDATE #2: According to the Associated Press, Galvin’s office now admits the numbers it released for cities and towns this morning were miscalculated. A press conference is set for this afternoon to announce the corrected numbers.  –12:35 p.m.

UPDATE #3: Galvin’s office just confirmed the above numbers, which they announced earlier this morning, are wrong. –12:55 p.m.

Another sign that Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll appears serious about a 2012 Senate run: She was working the room at a North Andover Democratic Town Committee straw poll Sunday morning.

Driscoll finished second behind Bob Massie, a 1994 candidate for lieutenant governor who has already declared he’s running. Driscoll is still testing the political waters.

Massie and Driscoll were the only potential challengers to Sen. Scott Brown who spoke at the breakfast.

“People seemed to really like her,” said Phil DeCologero, the committee secretary. “I know that in talking with the young people in the room, they overwhelmingly supported Kim Driscoll over Bob Massie.”

Massie, however, easily won the overall poll with 30 votes. Driscoll picked up 18. Congressman Michael Capuano finished a close third with 16 votes.

Other rumored candidates finished well-behind the top three. Congressman Steven Lynch picked up 4 votes, while Congressman Ed Markey and CityYear founder Alan Khazei finished with 3. Newton Mayor Setti Warren didn’t get any votes.

“Mayor Driscoll seemed to speak through the prism of having been in local government,” said DeCologero. “Bob Massie spoke more … about the bigger picture. … I think they both gave great speeches.”

The results were first posted on the political blog Blue Mass Group.

“It’s a great way to gauge support,” said DeCologero. “We know it’s not scientific.”

That same morning, Driscoll appeared on Channel 5 as the in-studio guest on the political show “On the Record.” Earlier in the week, she traveled to western Massachusetts to attend a fundraiser in Worcester and a women-in-politics event in Easthampton.

–Chris Cassidy
11:22 a.m.

A poll released this morning shows Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll would have to overcome a significant name-recognition gap if she entered the 2012 race for Senate.

The Western New England College Polling Institute found that 68 percent of those polled have never heard of Driscoll. Some 9 percent had a favorable opinion of the second-term mayor, while 2 percent  held an unfavorable view. About 18 percent had no opinion.

By contrast, 53 percent held a favorable opinion of Sen. Scott Brown, compared to 27 percent unfavorable. Only 4 percent hadn’t heard of him.

The poll surveyed 472 registered voters. It also asked voters’ opinions of other possible candidates, including Congressman Mike Capuano, Alan Khazei, Bob Massie (who has already declared), Setti Warren and Elizabeth Warren.

The complete results of the survey can be found here (PDF).

Favorable/unfavorable ratings for declared and possible Senate candidates in 2012.

Scott Brown
Favorable: 53%
Unfavorable: 27%
Haven’t heard of: 4%
No opinion: 15%
Refused: 1%

Kim Driscoll
Favorable: 9%
Unfavorable: 2%
Haven’t heard of: 68%
No opinion: 18%
Refused: 3%

In case anyone thought House Speaker Robert DeLeo was serious when he delivered his rather colorful remarks about Salem during this morning’s St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, his staff has issued this statement:

“Speaker DeLeo has only the highest regard for the historic city of Salem. His comments this morning came as part of a light-hearted St. Patrick’s Day breakfast and were made in that spirit.”

The breakfast, a fundraiser for state Rep. John Keenan, is similar to the annual affair in South Boston, where local politicians take turns zinging each other with one-liners.

–Chris Cassidy
4:43 p.m.

Not everyone was excited to be at state Rep. John Keenan’s annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast this morning.

“The governor’s in Israel,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo. “The Senate President is going to Helsinki. And I’m in a (dump) like Salem.”

Except DeLeo didn’t say “dump.” He used a much more colorful, unprintable two-syllable synonym.

“I’m the speaker, and I can do any (expletive) thing I want,” he continued. “You guys can laugh or not. I don’t give a (expletive).”

Yes, it’s St. Patrick’s Day — maybe the only time of the year where politicians can openly deliver obscenity-riddled jokes about their powerful positions, unveil gag props about outsourced jobs, or sing made-up songs about ice cream.

By the time the House Speaker took the mic at the Keenan political fundraiser, even the city’s witches had become fair game.

“You have a guy trying to figure out whether Charlie Sheen is a warlock or a warlord,” said DeLeo. “What an intellectual city.”

DeLeo had a zinger for Sheen as well.

“Someone asked me ‘how much cocaine do you think he does?’ I said, ‘Enough to kill two and a half men.’”

More in tomorrow’s Salem News.

–Chris Cassidy
1:26 p.m.

‘Tis the season for bad jokes and questionable one-liners.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo and State Treasurer Steve Grossman will be the guests next Friday morning at state Rep. John Keenan’s annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in Salem.

Like the annual breakfast in South Boston, the Keenan affair is an opportunity for pols to wear green, boast about their Irish heritage, and unleash their funniest political zingers (even if they aren’t funny). An array of North Shore Democrats are expected to attend.

The annual jokefest — a $75 per person fundraiser for Keenan — generally spares no one and serves as perhaps the only acceptable time of year when local politicians can joke freely about such serious matters as sex scandals and gaping budget deficits.

–Chris Cassidy
4:16 p.m.

Sen. Scott Brown said he’d welcome a potential challenge from Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll in the race for Senate next year.

“When we get to 2012, hey, bring it on,” Brown said in an interview with The Salem News this morning.

“I don’t know her,” Brown said of Driscoll. “She sounds like a very nice woman. But 2011 is for people in elected positions to do their jobs and deal with the reality of financial and social issues, not only in cities and towns, but across the country. I, for one, will be focusing on doing just that.”

That may be true, but Brown still has the 2012 race on his mind — Charlie Baker is hosting a $100-per-person fundraiser for Brown tomorrow night at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem.

Meanwhile, Driscoll still hasn’t announced whether she’s running for Senate.

Gov. Deval Patrick added to the political speculation earlier this week when he told the National Journal that City Year founder Alan Khazei, Democratic activist Robert Massie and Newton Mayor Setti Warren were in the race “for sure” (even though Khazei and Warren themselves hadn’t made any such announcements).

Asked his reaction to Bill Hudak’s announcement that he would challenge Congressman John Tierney in 2012 — and of rumors that former state Sen. Richard Tisei might jump into the race — Brown spoke in general terms.

“I applaud anyone that wants to get into public service,” said Brown. “I wish everyone well. But 2012 seems like 100 years away.”

Much more in tomorrow’s Salem News.

–Chris Cassidy
12:29 p.m.

Boxford Republican Bill Hudak announced via press release this morning that he’ll challenge John Tierney in 2012 for Congress.

“… it is clear that my support remains widespread and deep,” Hudak said in a statement. “In fact, since last November I have received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from supporters urging me to continue the fight.”

Hudak lost to Tierney, 57 to 43 percent, in November. While he carried smaller towns, like Topsfield, Wenham, Hamilton and Boxford, he could not counter Tierney’s strong support in cities like Salem, Peabody and Beverly.

Federal campaign records show Hudak essentially exhausted all his campaign contributions during the 2010 race. Tierney, too, unloaded his campaign war chest, spending $2 million in the last election cycle. He now has $188,235 in the bank, according to a December 2010 FEC filing.

–Chris Cassidy
11:50 a.m.

A National Journal story posted a half-hour ago quotes Gov. Deval Patrick as having contacted Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll about running for Scott Brown’s Senate seat in 2012.

Writes NJ’s Jim O’Sullivan:

Though Patrick said he had not been actively recruiting challengers for Brown, he told [National Journal] he has spoken with four potential candidates – City Year founder Alan Khazei, Democratic activist Robert Massie, Newton Mayor Setti Warren, and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll.

“Kim is not in; she has not made up her mind, but I know she’s thinking about it seriously. But Alan and Bob and Setti are in, for sure,” Patrick said. He added that former finance executive and Romney aide Robert Pozen, who has said he will run for Senate as a Democrat if the party asks him, had been trying to get in touch.

“I haven’t talked to Bob. We’ve traded phone calls, but I haven’t talked to him,” the governor said. Another potential candidate, Rep. Michael Capuano, one of Patrick’s early political supporters dating back to the 2006 campaign, had not indicated to him whether he had decided to run, Patrick said.

Driscoll still hasn’t publicly announced one way or the other whether she will run.

Here’s a link to the full National Journal story.

4:01 p.m.

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