Girding for a possible rematch in 2020, first-term Representative Lori Trahan is rolling out the endorsements of Senator Elizabeth Warren and the national pro-choice organization, NARAL, providing a show of force amid an unusually loud shadow primary.
Warren announced her backing in a 41-second video released by Trahan’s campaign, in which she calls the Westford Democrat a fighter for jobs, “strong unions,” and health care, and urges supporters to contribute however they can. NARAL Pro-Choice America released a separate statement, calling Trahan a champion of “reproductive freedom.”
“As the daughter of an iron worker, Lori knows why we need to fight for working people,” Warren says in her video, looking straight into the camera. Trahan aides said she filmed it roughly a week ago. “Let’s all get in this fight by Lori’s side.”
The dual endorsements come as Dan Koh, the former Boston City Hall aide who narrowly lost in last year’s Third Congressional District primary, is openly weighing a challenge of Trahan in September.
The prospect has generated a highly contentious — and uncommonly public — spat between the two Democrats, who were separated by just 145 votes in 2018.
Koh has cited questions about how Trahan financed her razor-thin victory in explaining his motivation to launch a rematch, even sending a text poll last week to residents in the district to test the opinion of both him and Trahan.
Koh, now an Andover selectman, later issued a statement to several media outlets challenging Trahan to release a series of documents, including bank statements, in response to complaints about $371,000 she loaned her campaign amid last year’s 10-Democrat primary. If the documents show “she did nothing wrong,” Koh said, “I will not run.”
Trahan did not disclose a key source of the money — a joint bank account with her husband — until after she won election in November, prompting calls from watchdog groups for federal officials to investigate.
Trahan aides have said the freshman lawmaker did nothing wrong and have dismissed Koh’s criticisms, accusing him of “playing politics for months because he thinks he’s entitled to serve in Congress.”
But the prospect of a primary challenge has weighed into Trahan’s political messaging. In a fund-raising pitch late last month, she told supporters that a strong fund-raising quarter would “signal to any potential opponents how serious we are.”
The endorsements take that tack a step further, injecting a campaign strategy often, if not exclusively, used when there’s actually a race.
Warren provides perhaps the state’s most high-profile political support. Trahan was among the first to endorse Warren in her presidential bid, appearing with the Cambridge Democrat at her campaign launch in Lawrence, which is in the Third District.
NARAL officials had endorsed Trahan in her general election victory last year, but remained neutral in the Democratic primary after it initially endorsed former lieutenant governor nominee and NARAL board member, Steve Kerrigan, who later withdrew from the race.
In backing Trahan this time, NARAL officials cited Trahan’s record, including her support of state-level legislation that would bolster access to abortion services. The bill would also lift the deadline that now confines abortions to 24 weeks gestation, though only for pregnancies threatened by fatal fetal anomalies.
“With reproductive freedom under attack by Donald Trump and his anti-choice allies across the country, Massachusetts women and families need strong champions like Lori Trahan to stand up for them and their basic rights,” Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement.