John Kingston, the wealthy Winchester businessman who is laying the groundwork for a US Senate bid in 2018, has taken a major step forward to get into the race.
The hopeful recently hired campaign consultant Mark Harris, a top Republican operative from Pennsylvania, according to state GOP insiders who requested anonymity to speak candidly.
Neither Kingston or Harris returned phone calls seeking comment. But sources with direct knowledge of the hiring confirmed they have been meeting with the state’s top Republican Party officials to lay out Kingston’s plans to become the GOP’s nominee against US Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Harris operates out of Pittsburgh, where he and his business partner, Mike DeVanney, founded their political consulting firm, Cold Spark Media, in 2011. They scored a high-profile win last year when they worked on US Senator Pat Toomey’s reelection in Pennsylvania, helping to secure another term for the politically endangered Republican.
Back in Massachusetts, Harris has his work cut out in 2018. Kingston has the personal wealth to finance a serious campaign, but there’s a crowded field of GOP aspirants, including Geoff Diehl, the GOP state representative from Whitman who assisted President Trump’s campaign last year. Diehl has been crisscrossing the state for months, and GOP insiders say he is an early favorite to win the party’s convention endorsement next April.
Kingston hails from Mitt Romney’s wing of the party, and Republicans view him as a favorite of the state GOP establishment to be on the same ballot as Governor Charlie Baker in 2018.
That means Kingston’s problems will be among the party’s rank-and-file activists. He has to get 15 percent of the delegates for his name to appear on the primary ballot.
And with several other candidates vying for that 15 percent, and Diehl’s already-strong inroads, that could be a major task for a candidate who has never back-slapped his way around the GOP grass roots.
Frank Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.