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Jesse Mermell, former Deval Patrick aide, to declare for Joe Kennedy seat

Jesse Mermell, a former Deval Patrick aide and Brookline selectwoman, will formally launch a campaign for the congressional seat held by Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, adding her name to a still-growing field of declared and potential candidates eyeing the open race.

Mermell, 39, is planning to hold events Wednesday in Fall River and Brookline, the two communities that bookend the Fourth Congressional District’s snaking path from Boston’s western suburbs to the South Coast.

A former communications director to Governor Deval Patrick, she has telegraphed her interest in a campaign for weeks, resigning as head of the Alliance for Business Leadership and building a team of consultants as Kennedy moved toward a Senate campaign. Mermell is also a close friend of Representative Ayanna Pressley, whose campaign she worked on in 2018 when Pressley upset Representative Michael Capuano, catapulting the former Boston city councilor to national prominence.


As she makes a run official, Mermell indicated she’d lean heavily on promoting her progressive resume to introduce herself outside of Brookline, where she served on the Select Board for nearly six years. She is a former vice president at the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts and served as president for more than 4½ years of ABL, a progressive business group that’s backed, among other things, the successful effort to raise the minimum wage and implement paid family leave.

“The people and places and progress that we love in the Fourth Congressional District are under attack,” said Mermell, who moved to Brookline at age 19 as a transfer student to Boston College. “Progressive ideas aren’t just theoretical to me. They are tangible things that I’ve been fighting and winning on for 20 years.”

Her entrance comes as another potential candidate moves closer to a run. Jake Auchincloss, a Marine and Newton city councilor, is planning to announce his own campaign in the coming days, an adviser said.


Auchincloss intends to focus on his support of the Green New Deal and securing funds for Massachusetts’ transportation system, among other issues.

The race is quickly becoming stacked with candidates, many of them younger, progressive Democrats hailing from the district’s northern reaches. Becky Walker Grossman, a 39-year-old Newton city councilor, declared her campaign last week, joining Ihssane Leckey, 34, a self-described democratic socialist from Brookline who launched a campaign before Kennedy said he would challenge Senator Edward Markey in 2020 instead of running for reelection.

Alan Khazei, the 58-year-old cofounder of City Year, Brookline resident, and two-time Senate candidate, has also said he will run in the Democratic primary.

Former Obama speechwriter Dave Cavell, 35, resigned last week from his post as a senior adviser to Attorney General Maura Healey to “prepare for a campaign,” according to an adviser. And state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, a two-term Brookline Democrat, has filed paperwork with federal officials as she, too, considers whether to run, potentially providing the nascent primary with its most well-known name.

It’s less clear which Republicans might run in the Democratic-leaning district. Kennedy faced no GOP opponent in 2018 and won against a Republican challenger by 40 points in 2016.

Matt Stout can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout.