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Leckey to launch $300K ad buy in packed 4th congressional primary

Ihssane Leckey.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/Boston Globe

Voters in the Fourth Congressional District are about to see a lot more of one Democrat running in the packed primary.

Ihssane Leckey, a 35-year-old former Wall Street regulator, is readying a $300,000 advertising campaign across the serpentine district, her campaign said, including running a 30-second television spot describing herself as a “fearless woman of color.”

The ad buy is among the first and what appears to be the most expensive from any of the nine Democrats running for the nomination to replace Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III.

Leckey, who launched her campaign before Kennedy announced he would instead challenge Senator Edward J. Markey, is planning to spend at least $100,000 on television spots — starting first on cable — and around $200,000 on digital ads on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and other platforms, according to campaign aides.


Leckey’s announcement comes days after Newton city councilor Jake Auchincloss was the first in the race to launch a TV ad, which emphasized the 32-year-old’s military career. Auchincloss’s initial buy was far smaller, at $29,400, and had a more narrow focus on the southern end of the district, running only in the Providence-New Bedford market.

The ability to launch a broad advertising blitz could have a disproportional impact in this year’s primary. More than half of those running, Leckey included, are first-time political candidates, and most, if not all, are still trying to build some name recognition — a challenge made even harder after the novel coronavirus upended traditional campaign methods and otherwise overshadowed the race.

Leckey’s ad seeks to emphasize both her progressive credentials and her place as the only woman of color in a field where the majority of candidates are white. It opens with images of some of the country’s most recognizable progressive political stars: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar — the latter of whom endorsed Leckey this week — before shifting to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.


Leckey, a Moroccan immigrant, narrates the ad, calling herself “Donald Trump’s worst nightmare” and a “fearless woman of color,” before touching on her background working at the Federal Reserve and her disavowal of donations from corporate PACs.

Her run, to date, has been largely self-funded. Aides said she loaned her campaign $650,000 last quarter from her and her husband’s own personal savings, accounting for most of the $710,000 in contributions she reported taking. That’s in addition to $100,000 she loaned herself last year, according to campaign finance records.

Candidates aren’t expected to file their most recent campaign report until later this month. Leckey has also yet to file a required financial disclosure with the US House clerk’s office, which shows only a filing from May 2019 saying she had yet to raise or spend $5,000.

There has been no independent public polling the primary, and one survey released last month by the campaign of Becky Walker Grossman, a Newton city councilor, found 60 percent of voters were undecided.

Also vying in the primary are Dave Cavell, a former Obama speechwriter; Alan Khazei, the cofounder of City Year; Natalia Linos, a social epidemiologist; Jesse Mermell, a former Brookline select board member; attorney Ben Sigel; and Christopher Zannetos, a tech entrepreneur.

Julie A. Hall and David Rosa are running in the Republican primary.


Matt Stout can be reached at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him @mattpstout.