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Auchincloss, Khazei top fund-raising in race to succeed Joe Kennedy

Alan Khazei (left) and Jake Auchincloss are running for the Democratic nomination in Massachusetts’s Fourth Congressional District. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Voters may still be getting to know the Fourth Congressional District’s Democratic primary field, but donors seem to be getting very well acquainted.

Jake Auchincloss, a Newton city councilor, said he raised $609,000 in the last three months, and Alan Khazei, the City Year cofounder, said he raised nearly $430,000 to push his total 2019 fund-raising to nearly $800,000, setting the pace in the competition for the seat held by Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III.

The showings help frame the financial cushion that Auchincloss, a US Marine Corps veteran, and Khazei, a Brookline resident who has twice run for US Senate, are building in a fluid, six-person field, where some candidates are running for the first time.

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Khazei raised $367,000 over the last week in September, which closed the third quarter, and has raised $796,564 total, according to his campaign. He had $663,149 on hand to close the year, the most of any of the Democrats seeking the nomination in the Sept. 1 primary.

Auchincloss, who jumped in after the quarter started in October, had about $554,000 on hand to start 2020, his campaign said.

But in a race that lacks an otherwise well-known name, other candidates aren’t lagging far behind, adding to the wide-open feel of a primary that quickly took on new attention when Kennedy pivoted to challenge Senator Edward J. Markey in the fall.

Jesse Mermell, a former Deval Patrick aide and Brookline resident, reported $351,000 in donations over the last three months. Her campaign said she had about $236,700 on hand to close the year.

Becky Walker Grossman, a Newton city councilor who launched her campaign in September shortly after Kennedy announced his Senate run , raised more than $250,000 in the quarter. When combined with $150,000 in contributions she raised in the last week of September, her campaign said her total fund-raising for 2019 reached roughly $406,000. She had about $313,000 on hand at the end of December.

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Dave Cavell, a former speechwriter for Barack Obama who entered the race in October, raised $201,000, according to his campaign. Aides did not immediately disclose how much cash he had in his account.

Ihssane Leckey, a Brookline resident who announced she was running before Kennedy chose to shift races and challenge Markey, raised $34,482 over the last three months, according to her campaign. Spencer Jallali, her campaign’s finance assistant, said 94 percent of her donations were $100 or less. Leckey had about $50,905 on hand.

The candidates’ official reports aren’t due to the Federal Election Commission until later this month. At that time, the campaigns will have to file a more detailed accounting that includes their donors and specific spending, which can range from staff salaries to lawn signs to TV advertising.

The FEC reports will also detail how many of the candidates’ donations are tabbed for the primary or general election, a difference that can limit how much is readily available ahead of the Sept. 1 vote.

Khazei, for example, reported that nearly $115,000 of his haul from September is designated as general election contributions, while $22,400 of Grossman’s September donations are considered general election contributions, according to a Globe analysis of their available fund-raising reports.

Donors are allowed to give $2,800 to a candidate per election — general and primary — or $5,600 in total. A candidate that wins the party nomination is allowed to use general election dollars toward debts they accumulated during the primary, but those who lose cannot, under FEC rules.

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No Republicans have said they’re running in the Democratic-leaning district, which stretches from Boston’s western suburbs to the South Coast.

The Democratic field, meanwhile, may grow. Thomas G. Shack III, the former state comptroller and a Brookline Democrat, in November launched an exploratory committee, but he has not said whether he will officially join the race.


Matt Stout can be reached at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout