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Zannetos becomes 2nd Democrat to drop out of primary for Kennedy seat

Wellesley Democrat says he's endorsing Jesse Mermell

Chris Zannetos.

Christopher Zannetos, a Wellesley tech entrepreneur, said Wednesday he is suspending his campaign in the Fourth Congressional District’s Democratic primary and endorsing Jesse Mermell, making him the second Democrat to bow out of the race in as many weeks.

Zannetos, who touted his job-creation credentials and had put more than $300,000 of his own money into the race, entered the field in April, but “no longer [saw] a feasible path to victory with the time remaining,” his campaign said in a lengthy statement.

While he’ll remain on the ballot, his exit narrows the field to seven candidates at a time when early and mail-in voting are already underway for the seat currently held by Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III.


Zannetos, 57, had polled toward the back of the eight-person field in other campaigns’ internal surveys. He had framed himself as a more centrist Democrat with a business background, helping start three companies and launching a nonprofit that connects tech companies and students interested in STEM.

He said he supported universal health care, but sought to differentiate himself from Mermell and other progressive Democrats who back a single-payer system under Medicare for All, warning in a television ad this month they “would eliminate private health insurance.”

Zannetos said his message of spurring more jobs was “right” for the moment, but said the crowded field, a campaign limited by the novel coronavirus pandemic, and his relatively late entry made it difficult to “break through the noise.”

“The easy path for me would be to finish this campaign on Election Day. But that would only take votes from a candidate who is committed to fixing this issue, who can win this race,” Zannetos said, adding that Mermell, the former president of the progressive Alliance for Business Leadership, has shown a “commitment to helping working people” and public-private partnerships.


“While there are some policy areas in which we disagree, she has the integrity and focus needed to help those left behind by our economy — and has proven that she can be counted on to do the hard work required,” he said.

Jesse Mermell campaigning earlier this year.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

Zannetos’s announcement comes less than two weeks after Dave Cavell, a Brookline Democrat, suspended his campaign and also threw his backing behind Mermell, a former Brookline selectwoman.

Cavell specifically framed his decision as an effort to block Jake Auchincloss, a Newton city councilor and Marine veteran, though Zannetos has more regularly aligned with Auchincloss on issues, including health care and qualified immunity for police.

The seven-person field, which now features only Brookline and Newton residents, also includes Becky Walker Grossman, a Newton city councilor; Ihssane Leckey, a former Wall Street regulator; Natalia Linos, a Harvard epidemiologist; Alan Khazei, a City Year cofounder; and Ben Sigel, an attorney.

The winner will face either Julie Hall of Attleboro or David Rosa of Dighton, who are running the Fourth District’s Republican primary.

Matt Stout can be reached at Follow him @mattpstout.