Even in a year when they appear united against the president, never underestimate Democrats’ ability to eat their own, and each other — in droves.
Take the unfolding race to succeed outgoing US Representative Niki Tsongas in the Third District, which has created a web of odd alliances, pitting former colleagues in arms against one another. The Democratic primary has drawn at least nine candidates — a number some observers expect to grow, only furthering the series of entanglements.
For instance, Boston Democratic consultant Scott Ferson signed up last week with Abhijit “Beej” Das, CEO of Troca Hotels, putting him at odds with a string of former comrades. Both Steve Kerrigan, a newer entrant into the race, and Ferson served as top aides to the late US senator Edward M. Kennedy.
What’s more, Kerrigan’s candidacy means he’ll be running against another candidate, Dan Koh, who is being coached by the same team of advisers who helped guide Kerrigan during his unsuccessful 2014 bid as lieutenant governor nominee.
Doug Rubin and Kyle Sullivan are former aides to Deval Patrick, who ran twice on a ticket alongside Timothy P. Murray, for whom Ferson was a campaign adviser.
In addition to Ferson, Das has also brought on Obama administration veteran Toby Chaudhuri and longtime Democratic consultant Tad Devine. Rubin and Devine both worked for former state treasurer Timothy P. Cahill. They also teamed up in 2012 for Joseph P. Kennedy III and his successful bid for Congress.
Now Rubin and Sullivan are advising Koh. But in 2014 they were with Kerrigan’s running mate, then-attorney general Martha Coakley. That campaign made hay by alleging a “pay-to-play” scandal involving Coakley’s opponent, Charlie Baker, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and that state’s pension fund, and a health care startup known as Oscar.
Listed atop Oscar’s governing structure? Joshua Kushner, brother of presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Now, Joshua Kushner is on Koh’s side, maxing out on contributions to his congressional bid.
Also in 2014, Ferson worked for Seth Moulton, who unhorsed longtime congressman John Tierney in a Democratic primary. Also working for Moulton? Emily Cherniack, who founded New Politics and is now advising state Representative Juana Matias, also a candidate in the Third.
The unsuccessful team that tried to lure the 2024 Olympics has splintered as well. Koh worked on the bid at City Hall, with Rubin and Sullivan advising the private group behind the effort. Also consulting for that coalition: Keyser Public Strategies, led by the husband-and-wife team of Will Keyser and Eileen O’Connor. Keyser was a senior strategist for Baker in 2014 — and, like Kerrigan and Ferson, was an aide for Kennedy.
O’Connor is now working with Lori Trahan, also running for Congress.
In 2006, Keyser was an adviser for then-attorney general Thomas F. Reilly, who was running for governor. Also inside Reilly’s camp at that time was his chief of staff — Kerrigan.
Confused yet? Get used to it. The election’s not for another year.Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @JOSreports.