Political Intelligence

Money will be key consideration in special election for Senate

More than three weeks after President Obama announced he was nominating Senator John Kerry to be the country’s next secretary of state, the official roster of candidates to succeed him remains pretty much limited to Representative ­Edward J. Markey.

Other candidates such as Representatives Michael E. Capuano and Stephen F. Lynch have said they will wait until Kerry is confirmed to announce their final decisions.

The same is true for former senator Scott Brown, who may seek the Republican nomination to stage a political comeback after losing last fall to Democrat Elizabeth Warren.


The issue, though, is that the special election campaign is going to be confined to a 145- to 160-day window once Kerry ­announces his resignation.

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Even a couple of weeks of delay now allows Markey to build his lead on any potential rivals. On Saturday, he ­announced his campaign manager, Sarah Benzing, who managed the winning campaign of Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio in 2012.

State Senator Benjamin Downing, who had been weighing his own campaign, spoke of the looming obstacle last week, when he announced that he would not run.

While the Pittsfield Democrat is a state lawmaker and not a sitting US congressman, who might be expected to have more fund-raising prowess, Downing talked to many of the same ­activists and donors as the ­other candidates and decided to fight another day.

“I will be forever grateful for their words of encouragement, advice, and endorsement,” Downing said of his supporters. “I wish their faith in me was enough to sustain a campaign, but I know that every consideration, especially financial, must be made before a race of this type is undertaken.”

Brown can’t transfer funds


For all the talk of Brown running for governor of Massachusetts in 2014, instead of the US Senate this year (and again in 2014, when Kerry’s term ­expires), there is a practical hurdle to that: a $500 limit on individual contributions to state political candidates.

A hallmark of Brown’s two Senate campaigns has been prolific fund-raising, starting with his January 2010 special election campaign. He finished with a $7.2 million balance that gave him a running start for his 2012 reelection campaign.

In his race with Warren, Brown raised another $30 million. Warren took in $42 million herself, making their campaign the most expensive Senate race in Massachusetts history.

Both candidates benefited from the $2,500 limit on federal donations. Simply put, they could collect more money from fewer people, a 5-to-1 ratio over what candidates in state elections can collect.

Were he to mount a gubernatorial campaign, Brown would be prohibited from transferring any money left in his federal campaign account.


While supporters could make unlimited donations to so-called super PACs, as they can in federal races, the former senator would have to work harder to raise the funds he would need for a state campaign.

From City Hall to State HouseGovernor Deval Patrick made a series of personnel announce­ments last week, as he kicks off the final two years of what will be his final term.

They include a group of people who were formerly in the orbit of Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston, underscoring the farm team that City Hall cultivates and the feeder route from Scollay Square to Beacon Hill that benefits the Massachusetts Democratic Party.

Patrick announced that his new chief legal counsel is Kate Cook, a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School who also is an alumna of the City of Boston corporation counsel’s office. Cook is the first woman to hold the post in state history.

The governor also said that Rosemary Powers was having her title enhanced to deputy chief of staff for government ­affairs. She never worked direct­ly for Menino, but he started the city’s Main Streets program and Powers headed the South Boston Main Streets program from 1997 to 1999.

And Patrick named Nikko Mendoza as director of operations, which handles the ­mechanics of his movements and public appearances.

The Boston University graduate previously was one of Menino’s interns while in college, before serving as assistant director of the city’s Office of Neighborhood Services.

The mayor said he is “extreme­ly proud” of the ­appointees.

“I think municipal government is the one closest to the people, and these people have all shown that they are really good at serving them,” Menino said Saturday.

The mayor said that Patrick recognized that with his appoint­ments. “He just sees that City Hall has the right talent to make the government work,” Menino said.

Glen Johnson is lead blogger for Political Intelligence, available at www.boston.com/politics.
He can be reached at johnson@
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