Republicans continue to come forward exploring the possibility of running for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the appointment of John Kerry to Secretary of State, but so far only one has officially announced a run.
With just 21 days until nomination papers have to be filed, two more Republicans announced on Tuesday that they were exploring their options – State Rep. Dan Winslow (R-Norfolk) and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). Also in the mix: Former Nantucket selectman and county commissioner Douglas Bennett says he’s making a bid for the seat. And according to the Boston Globe, former Navy Seal Gabriel Gomez, of Cohassett is considering a run.
Several Republicans have already been down this path in the past week and walked away from running. Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, former State Sen. Minority Leader Richard Tisei and Tagg Romney all made decisions in the past week to opt out of the race.
Democratic Congressmen Ed Markey (D-Malden) and Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston) and Beverly Libertarian Daniel Fishman have already started campaigning for the April 25 Primary.
Winslow announced Tuesday he was forming an exploratory committee for the U.S. Senate seat. Winslow represents the Ninth Norfolk District, consisting of the towns of Norfolk, Plainville and Wrentham, along with Precincts 3 and 4 in Medfield, Precinct 1 in Millis and Precinct 5 in Walpole.
Tarr told the State House News Service he is also considering a run and that he’d make a decision by Monday at the latest. He represents the 1st Essex and Middlesex District, which includes the towns of Gloucester, Boxford, Essex, Georgetown, Groveland, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester, Middleton, Newbury, North Andover, Rockport, Rowley, Wenham, West Newbury and Wilmington.
Bennett, who had an unsuccessful race for the Cape and Islands Senate seat in 2006, losing to incumbent Rob O'Leary, also previously ran two unsuccessful elections to the Boston City Council, according to CapeCodToday. The 37-year-old father from Dorchester says on his website he is running because the Commonwealth and the country needs “a strong voice who will go down to Washington, D.C. and fight to End the Perpetual wars that plague our nation and prevent us from achieving full productivity.”
Bennett, the only Republican who has officially entered the race so far, could face several obstacles, according to Frank Talty, co-director of the UMass-Lowell Center For Public Opinion. Talty said Bennett’s roots and history in Nantucket, a small island with a population of only 10,000, could make mounting a challenge to the Democratic candidates difficult.
“You got to figure that part of the state is not a great place to run from,” Talty said of Bennett’s island experience.
Regardless of who runs, money will play a key role in the race. Talty said with little time to mount an organized field campaign, candidates will have to rely on fundraising to pay for expensive media campaigns to sell themselves to voters. Given his connections to several nationally known Republicans such as Mitt Romney, Winslow will likely have an advantage raising money, Talty said.
“While Winslow would have a clear uphill battle … he would at least be competitive,” Talty said.
Talty doubted Markey’s large war chest will scare off potential Republican candidates.
“I’m not sure that made a difference for people like Kerry Healey or for Scott Brown or for Bill Weld,” Talty said.
Candidates have until Wednesday, Feb. 27 to secure the 10,000 signatures needed to be on the April Primary ballot.
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