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MassGOP Bench Running Thin for Senate Special Election

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

 

Top Republicans are saying "no thanks" to the Senate special election to replace John Kerry almost faster than their names can get floated, leaving the GOP still candidate-less with the clock ticking to file nomination papers.

Former Senator Scott Brown was widely expected to enter into the contest, but he surprised many when he announced on Friday that he would not run for Kerry's seat, spurring a scramble for another candidate and stirring up more than a little bit of ire from supporters and party loyalists.

Brown's decision was seen as an even greater surprise following the election of his former aide Kirsten Hughes as the next Chair of the MassGOP on Thursday night in a close contest with state committee member Rick Green of Pepperell, who enjoyed strong support from the grassroots community while Hughes was backed by Brown and seen as the establishment candidate.

Candidates Lining Up to Bow Out

In the day's since Brown's announcement, the number of likely high-profile Republicans in the Bay State has dwindled as they announce one-by-one that they will be passing on this year's contest.

Former Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey was the latest to join the growing list when she announced Monday evening that she would not run for the Senate seat. She's in good company. Former Governor William Weld and former gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker, as well as Richard Tisei, Tagg Romney and Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis, have all said they will not be competing either.

According to Clark University professor of Political Science Srinivasan Sitaraman, other names floating around are Gabriel Gomez of Cohasset and state Rep. Daniel Winslow from Norfolk.

"The State GOP might calculate that it would be better to focus on the gubernatorial race in 2014 and concede the special elections," he said.

A Party Divided?

Winslow released a statement on Friday saying that he was still considering the run, but had yet to make a decision.

"Massachusetts Republicans, especially middle class Republicans who call Amherst their hometown, seem to offer a different perspective from the national GOP brand," Winslow said. "I am honored by so many calls and emails urging me to run for the United States Senate. But I will reflect this weekend about my own familyís needs and whether there is room in the national Republican Party for a member who is both fiscally prudent and socially tolerant."

Meanwhile, psychiatrist and author Dr. Keith Ablow, who has already indicated his interest in the Senate seat publicly, announced on Monday that he will run if the party unifies around him without a primary contest.

"We face an unprecedented assault on the Constitution and our individual liberties. If the Republican Party in Massachusetts and the Republican National Committee ask me to run at this time, and offer their support in that effort, I will run," Ablow said in a statement.

"If they support another candidate, I will work hard to elect that candidate. If that candidate should lose, I will, in all likelihood, again offer to be a candidate for Senate from Massachusetts in 2014, under the same conditions. The Party can't afford to spend precious resources on a divisive primary. If all the leaders of the Party united around me - to preclude a primary, I would run. Such unity looks improbable at this time."

"The Republican Party is divided in Massachusetts, and the brand needs to be fixed," said Chris Pinto, of the Worcester Republican City Committee, who was among those dissatisfied with Brown's recent actions of playing to Democrats in the last election cycle and backing out of the special election set for this June, harming the party and alienating his former base.

"Until the party finds someone who is proud of the Republican principles of lower taxes, less government and more accountability and can articulate these in a coherent fashion the hold little possibility of another win at the state or federal level." 

 

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