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GOP businessman may challenge Elizabeth Warren for re-election

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. gestures as she answers a question during an interview at her office in Boston, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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US Senator Elizabeth Warren at her office in Boston last month.

US Senator Elizabeth Warren may have a GOP challenger with the deep pockets to make her work for her re-election.

Rick Green, a multi-millionaire businessman who has made it no secret he wants to run for a major public office, is quietly exploring his options for a Senate race, although he had not made his intentions known to party leaders or to Governor Charlie Baker’s inner circle.

Green, a 46-year-old Pepperell resident who made a fortune with his online auto parts firm, did not return a Globe request early Tuesday seeking comment.

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But one party activist said he and several other colleagues had been approached by Green about his potential candidacy and that he is quietly mulling a run for the GOP nomination. So far, the only other potential GOP candidate is former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who has expressed interest in running against Warren.

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The prospect of a serious GOP challenge to Warren could also create complications for Republican Governor Charlie Baker, who will likely be running for reelection at the same time. A challenge to Warren, a hugely popular figure in the Democratic Party, will bring a surge of passionate Democrats to the polls in 2018, just as Baker is trying to win another term.

Green’s ambitions have been well known within party circles for several years. His name has come up as a possible candidate for the congressional seat held by US Representative Niki Tsongas, a Lowell Democrat who is just beginning her sixth term.

Green, whose politics can be described as fiscally conservative, while more moderate on other issues, has good standing within the state GOP. He claims his company is eBay’s largest auto parts seller online, with annual revenue topping $150 million while employing more than 250 people.

He used his fortune in 2012 to create a nonprofit, fiscally conservative advocacy group, Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, which professes to be nonpartisan. But it has come under criticism for exclusively targeting Democratic legislators. It has used the last several legislative races to attack the records of lawmakers on issues including crime, taxes, and immigration.

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Green, who at the time was a member of the GOP state committee, came within two votes of being elected state party chairman, losing in bitter fought race to current chair Kirsten Hughes.

Hughes who described Green as a one-time “formidable” opponent, welcomed his potential Senate candidacy, saying he would be a “good candidate” to challenge Warren. She confirmed that Green had yet to reach out to the party about seeking the GOP Senate nomination.

“He was a formidable opponent of mine, and I respect him and am happy to help if he becomes the party nominee,’’ said Hughes. “I wish him well. I would be excited to see what he does.”

Frank Phillips can be reached at frank.phillips@globe.com.