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Dan Koh raised big bucks for his campaign, but 95 percent came from outside the district

Daniel A. Koh (left) raised $806,000 in his first month running for Niki Tsongas’ seat,but drew about 95 percent of that money from outside the district. Lori Trahan (right) raised $242,000, about half of which came from Third District backers. Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/File; Handout

Democratic congressional candidate Daniel A. Koh, who raised an imposing $806,000 in his first month on the trail, drew about 95 percent of that money from outside the district he is looking to represent, according to a Globe analysis of federal fund-raising records.

Lori Trahan, another Democrat seeking the seat that US Representative Niki Tsongas is relinquishing, took in $242,000 in her first few weeks. But the business consultant demonstrated a much stronger fund-raising base in the Third District, scooping up about half of her total from within its borders, which stretch from Winchendon to Haverhill, and south to Marlborough.

Koh, whose initial haul established him as a front-tier candidate, raised a little more than $30,000 from inside the district, instead pulling much of it from downtown Boston’s business and political elite. Koh was chief of staff to Mayor Martin J. Walsh until Sept. 1, when he left the administration to formally launch his campaign.

“I’m fortunate to have a lot of friends and people who have seen my work who trust that I would be a good congressman, so I appreciate their support,” Koh said Monday. Asked if he were concerned the preponderance of outside donors would turn off voters, Koh replied, “Not at all.”


Several other candidates actively running for the office did not have to report by the Oct. 15 deadline.

More than $163,000 of Koh’s contributions flowed from those who listed Boston as their residence. Beyond city dwellers, the donor list represents a veritable “who’s who” of power brokers, including backers and operatives involved with the failed bid for the 2024 Olympics, and some of the largest donors to last year’s defeated ballot measure to increase the number of charter schools in the state.

Walsh championed the Olympic effort, but he opposed the charter school measure.


Among Koh’s big-name donors: former US Senator William “Mo” Cowan, now a GE executive; former governor and Libertarian vice presidential nominee William F. Weld, now a lobbyist at ML Strategies; Kate Walsh, president and executive of Boston Medical Center; Richard Davey, former chief executive of Boston 2024 and now a transportation executive; and Red Sox executives Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner.

Joshua Kushner, co-founder of Oscar Health and brother of President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, contributed the $2,700 maximum to Koh’s campaign. Koh said the two knew each other from college and business school.

Koh loaned his campaign $50,000, funds not reflected in the percentage breakdowns.

An Andover native, Koh moved back there from Boston to run for the seat. None of Koh’s contributions came from its four largest cities: Lowell, Lawrence, Haverhill, and Methuen.

In all, fewer than three dozen of Koh’s contributors hailed from inside the Third District, according to a Globe review of the campaign finance filings. Nearly twice as many came from New York State.

When it announced the impressive total earlier this month, Koh’s campaign declined to release its donor list. A campaign spokesman did not dispute any of the findings from the Globe review on Monday.

Trahan, a Lowell native who served as chief of staff to former congressman Marty Meehan and now lives in Westford, flexed stronger district roots in her October filing. She raised about $120,000 from there, according to the Globe review.

Both Meehan, now president of the University of Massachusetts, and his former wife, Ellen Murphy Meehan, donated the maximum $2,700 to Trahan. Ellen Murphy Meehan had considered running for the seat, but said last month she would not.


In a text message relayed by an adviser, Trahan said it “makes sense that most of the people supporting my campaign are people from our district.”

Republican candidate Scott Gunderson, a former Navy pilot who lives in Groton, took in $6,340.

The district was last represented by a Republican in 1972, and the current field of candidates is still taking shape. Democrat Hillary Clinton defeated Republican Donald Trump there last year by 38 percentage points.

Several other congressional candidates have begun exploratory efforts, but had not taken the step of a forming a federal campaign committee by the deadline, meaning they do not yet have to report donors or donations.

Others who have formally registered committees with the Federal Election Commission include Republican businessman Rick Green and Democrats Abhijit “Beej” Das, a hotel executive; Cambridge city councilor Nadeem A. Mazen; and state Representative Juana Matias.

State Senator Barbara L’Italien, an Andover Democrat who said last month that she was “off and running” in the Third, has not yet opened a federal account, according to FEC records. In an e-mail, she criticized candidates with looser ties to the district.

“The data released in the past 24 hours now shows what we expected; Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston was an effective fundraiser in the third congressional district,” L’Italien said. “I continue to reject the notion that candidates from Boston, Cambridge or elsewhere with no record of service to the communities in this district can move back to buy a congressional seat and I believe the voters will agree.”


Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at jim.osullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JOSreports.