Reporter's Notebook: New outside PAC formed to focus on governor race

Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
Feb. 26, 2014

Outside spending slammed into last year’s mayoral race, the tally hitting $3.8 million when all was said and done. Union-backed organizations lined up behind Marty Walsh and an education reform group backed John Connolly.

A similar situation could play out in this year’s race for governor, but on a much larger scale as five Democrats scramble for the chance to face off against Charlie Baker, the presumptive Republican nominee, in November.

On Monday, a new outside group surfaced, registering with the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Simply dubbed “Mass” – as in Massachusetts – the filing lists David Martin, a longtime Democratic operative, as its chairman and treasurer. Its purpose? “Communicate with voters about gubernatorial candidates prior to the November 2014 election,” the filing said.

When reached by phone on Tuesday, Martin referred questions to Steve Crawford, whose resume includes time as a spokesman for Govs. Deval Patrick and Mike Dukakis, the Boston Teachers Union, and a hotel workers union. “We are in the process of forming a political action committee that will be engaged in the gubernatorial race,” Crawford said. “It is not completely developed yet, but out of an abundance of caution we wanted to file the necessary compliance records as we went around, meeting with interested parties.”

Asked about Martin’s involvement, Crawford said, “David Martin is someone I have worked with for many years. He’s the premier compliance officer in metropolitan Boston, which is why we sought out his services.”

Martin, who runs the Chick Montana Group and has also worked for Dukakis, handled accounting and compliance for a variety of politicians, including Walsh during his mayoral campaign and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

Martin also has a gubernatorial candidate on the client list, along with the “Mass” independent expenditure group: Donald Berwick, who served as the head of Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama.

The Berwick campaign says there is no connection with Martin’s company beyond the accounting and compliance services they’ve paid for.

When State Treasurer Steve Grossman, another gubernatorial candidate, proposed a pledge to stem the influence of outside groups’ spending last year, Berwick sounded supportive notes, according to the State House News Service. A similar pledge surfaced during the Boston mayoral race, to little effect in the general election, as outside spending soared and mostly benefited Walsh, a labor leader.

The impact of whatever other outside groups get involved in the gubernatorial race remains unclear. It’s early, and there’s no guarantee they will get involved at all. EMILY’s List, a group that supports women candidates and is backing Attorney General Martha Coakley in the race for governor, endorsed Charlotte Golar Richie in the mayor’s race last year, but did little afterwards, much to the chagrin of Richie’s campaign staffers.

Others never got off the ground, like the Cape Verdean political action committee that formed in a bid to support John Barros, a mayoral candidate who is now in Walsh’s cabinet. According to a filing with OCPF, the PAC never spent any money on Barros’s behalf.

In the race to replace Gov. Patrick, who isn’t running for a third term, the groups appear to be largely holding their fire for now. But Boston Globe reporter Josh Miller on Tuesday night spied a tracker from America Rising PAC, a GOP opposition research firm, at a Harvard University forum with the five Democrats. The tracker was taking notes and had a camcorder at the ready. At the very least, the outside groups are keeping a close eye on things.

Consalvo joins National Grid
Former City Councillor Rob Consalvo, who gave up his District 5 seat to run for mayor last year, has landed at National Grid. He started work on Monday from his office in West Roxbury as a senior representative, part of a gas sales support team that works with small to medium-size businesses and commercial customers. “It’s a great opportunity in the private sector, working for a great company,” he said.

A 12-year veteran of the Council, Consalvo was one of the 12 candidates who jumped into the race to replace Mayor Thomas Menino, but he was unable to make it past the September preliminary. The Hyde Park native, who once worked as an aide to the late US Sen. Ted Kennedy, carved out a niche on the mayoral campaign trail, pushing for rubber sidewalks and a pledge to limit outside spending. He stepped down from the Council last month when his term ended.

Golar Richie holds fundraiser
Former mayoral candidate Charlotte Golar Richie is still seeking to retire the debt from last year’s campaign. The former Dorchester lawmaker, who came in third place and didn’t advance past the September primary, scheduled a fundraiser for today (Thurs., Feb. 27) at 8:30 a.m. at the offices of Travaglini, Eisenberg and Kiley, at One International Place in downtown Boston. The firm was founded by Robert Travaglini, the former state Senate president and Boston City Councillor. One of Travaglini’s top former aides, Arthur Bernard, works for the firm and helped out on Golar Richie’s campaign. Suggested donations ranged from $100 to $500.

Endorsement Corner: Rep. Holmes backs Lake in lieutenant governor bid
State Rep. Russell Holmes, a Mattapan Democrat, is supporting Mike Lake for lieutenant governor, the campaign announced this week. “Mike knows that strengthening and supporting startups and small businesses is vital to establishing a competitive and thriving economy for our Commonwealth,” Holmes said in a statement. “He has the experience and keen understanding of the job ecosystem to strengthen our economy and increase the value of our public education.”

Lake, a Melrose Democrat who has also been endorsed by former Gov. Dukakis, ran for state auditor in 2010 and came up short. The other Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor include Steve Kerrigan, Leland Cheung, Jonathan Edwards, and James Arena DeRosa.

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