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Shack enters crowded Democratic field for Kennedy seat

Former prosecutor and comptroller declares candidacy

Tom Shack.
Tom Shack.Handout

The race for the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts’ Fourth Congressional District is getting a bit more crowded.

Thomas G. Shack III, a former prosecutor and state comptroller, announced Tuesday that he is entering the contest, which could include 10 or more candidates vying to succeed outgoing US Representative Joe Kennedy.

Shack, a decades-long Brookline resident whose father served as an adviser to the late John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, filed paperwork, e-mailed supporters, and launched the website ShackforCongress.com.

In a statement, he said he could no longer watch from afar as unrest in Washington roils the nation, and as “each day becomes even more turbulent than the last.”

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“I have seen first-hand that government can be a force for good, but our democracy is quickly eroding as cynicism, distrust, and division engulf our nation,” he said. “Dark money and darker acts erode trust. We need leaders committed to protecting our freedoms, our constitution, and our rule of law through transparent and truly representative government for all.”

Shack served as the state’s comptroller for four years, where he oversaw the implementation of CTHRU, an online system that lists all of the state’s expenditures in real time. Before he left in early 2019, Shack’s office clashed with the Baker administration over the design and implementation of computer systems. He is also a former state prosecutor, and simultaneously served as chief operating and financial officer for the Cape and Islands district attorney’s office. He also was a lawyer in private practice.

Shack said his campaign platform is based on core Democratic values: ensuring equal access to affordable health care, clean water, food, education, and personal safety for all; preserving a woman’s right to choose; combating climate change and investing in renewable energy; rebuilding and expanding the middle class.

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“We must bring back the basic principles of dignity, service to others, trust, and openness,” he said. “The simple fact is that our democracy is strongest, and our freedom is greatest, when we stand up for each other.”

Shack joins a crowded field of candidates vying to succeed Kennedy, who is challenging US Senator Edward J. Markey. And though the other candidates have had a headstart in raising campaign funds, the field seems to remain open with no well-known name taking a front-runner status. Like Shack, several of candidates are making their first run for office.

The Democratic-leaning district stretches from Boston’s western suburbs to Fall River.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, the other candidates who have taken out papers for the Democratic nomination are Ben Sigel; Jesse Mermell; Jake Auchincloss; Nicholas Matthew; Ihssane Leckey; Alan Khazei; Dave Cavell; Becky Grossman; and Christopher Z. Zannetos.

The following Republican candidates have taken out papers: David A. Rosa; Geoffrey Woodward; and Albert Cecchinelli .

Candidates have until May 5 to get signatures certified, qualifying them for the September ballot.


Milton J. Valencia can be reached at milton.valencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.