Anthony Amore, the security chief at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum who has been trying to find the masterworks stolen in the notorious 1990 museum heist, will take on an equally tough assignment: running for office as a Republican in deep-blue Massachusetts.
Amore said he saw that Republican Governor Charlie Baker was running for reelection and he thinks he could help him as a state representative.
“I really believe in his work. I think he could use an ally on Beacon Hill, and I think I could be that ally,” said Amore, who filed papers Dec. 1.
Amore, a Swampscott resident, will seek the GOP nomination to take on incumbent Representative Lori A. Ehrlich, a Marblehead Democrat. The legislative district also includes Swampscott and parts of Lynn.
He said he would work to promote fiscal discipline if elected and noted that Ehrlich voted in favor of a hefty salary increase for herself, as well as other officials.
“I just found that to be intolerable,” Amore said of the pay hikes.
Ehrlich, a certified public accountant who has served in the House since 2008, defended her vote, noting in a statement that lawmakers’ base pay is constitutionally mandated and linked to median income statewide.
“My opponent misunderstands the pay raise that many public officials received including judges, constitutional officers, and court clerks,” she said.
Ehrlich said voting on a bill that raised her pay was not something she did “without great introspection and discussion,” and she supported the measure because she felt “it was time” because the last raise for lawmakers came nearly two decades ago.
Amore’s previous political experience has included serving two terms as a Swampscott Town Meeting member, but he is no stranger to the limelight. He’s headed security at the Gardner since 2005, making many public appeals with law enforcement for information related to the infamous robbery, when thieves disguised as police officers talked their way into the museum, tied up two guards, and stole 13 pieces, including three Rembrandts.
Amore recently declined to discuss specifics of the investigation but said he remains hopeful the paintings will resurface. And he plans to continue working at the Gardner if he wins the election. Winning will be no easy task in a state where Republicans hold just 35 seats in the 160-member House chamber, but Amore believes he can distance himself from the national GOP, which remains unpopular in Massachusetts.
“I see myself as someone who leans much more closely to our governor than to our president,” Amore said, adding that like Baker, he did not vote for President Trump.
But Ehrlich asserted in her statement that Amore’s Twitter feed shows “he has more in common with Donald Trump than Governor Baker.”
On Nov. 5, Amore retweeted a post from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange that included a hacked e-mail sent to Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. The intelligence community has determined that the Russians provided Wikileaks with hacked e-mails to influence the election.
Amore said he’s not a supporter of Assange but retweeted his post “because I was struck by [Podesta’s] instinct, as revealed in Wikileaks, to use people of color and women as pawns.”