This is the priciest primary in the Mass. House this year
He has spent nearly $200,000. Donations have flowed in from PACs, lobbyists, and former State House speakers. He’s touted endorsements from his neighborhood.
Now, state Representative Jeffrey Sánchez is turning to political star power in the fight to keep his House seat.
Facing a progressive challenge from first-time candidate Nika Elugardo, the House budget chief is bringing Attorney General Maura T. Healey and US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III onto the campaign trail in the days before Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
The appearances by two of the party’s best-known names — Healey on Saturday in Jamaica Plain, Kennedy on Monday in Brookline — add to what is already the year’s priciest Massachusetts House primary, and for Sánchez, a rare battle for his political life.
Elugardo, an MIT- and Harvard-educated former state Senate aide, has questioned the eight-term incumbent’s priorities on Beacon Hill and challenged his progressive chops in a district that includes Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill, Roslindale, and a part of Brookline.
But incumbency — specifically, Sánchez’s post as House Ways & Means chair — comes with its own political strengths. He raised $242,632 in the first 7 ½ months this year, pulling in a dozen donations from political action committees and thousands more in contributions from lobbyists, including former House Speaker Thomas Finneran, according to state campaign finance records released this week.
And he’s put it to work. The Jamaica Plain Democrat reported spending a whopping $198,122, including more than $30,000 on printing and direct mailers, nearly $20,000 on polling, and $13,500 on consultants.
Elugardo, meanwhile, has raised more than $93,792 and spent $87,027 through mid-August. That’s more than double the $36,235 that the average House candidate spent two years ago.
SPILKA SPENDS BIG
No one said running for Senate president was cheap.
State Senator Karen E. Spilka rose to the chamber’s top post earlier this year amid a crowded — and sometimes tense — leadership fight. And in doing so, she dropped $40,000 on communications consultants to help deal with the media spotlight the internal race invited, campaign finance records show.
Spilka spent $27,000 on the services of Melwood Global, a communications firm that counts Healey and secretary of state hopeful Josh Zakim as clients. She cut another $13,000 to Participate Consulting, whose president — Sarah Blodgett — later joined Spilka’s staff as her $80,000-a-year communications director.
Overall, Spilka spent $127,868. The Ashland Democrat doesn’t face a primary or Republican challenger this fall, but heavy spending is not unusual for chamber leaders. House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, for example, has spent $241,920 so far this year. That includes $34,115 for a House holiday party, $5,843 on gifts for other representatives, and $13,572 at the Omni Parker House for a fund-raiser.
With three write-in candidates, an endorsement from a former congressman, and an open seat, the race to replace former Senate president Stanley C. Rosenberg has been busy. It’s also been expensive.
The four candidates combined raised nearly $199,000 entering Tuesday’s primary, with the bulk coming from donations to Jo Comerford, a campaign director for the progressive group MoveOn, who raised $121,971 in less than three months for her write-in campaign.
Chelsea S. Kline, the only Democrat officially on the ballot, raised $43,803. She’s followed by write-in candidates Ryan O’Donnell, the Northampton City Council president, at $18,808, and Steve Connor, the director of Central Hampshire Veterans’ Services, at $14,196.
They’ve collectively spent $110,654, records show.
All four candidates hail from Northampton, and the race has drawn a slew of notable endorsements in Western Massachusetts and beyond, including state Senators Jamie Eldridge and Barbara L’Italien (who are backing Kline) and former US representative John W. Olver (who is backing Comerford).