Charlie Baker, the only candidate in the gubernatorial race who has run for the office before, trounced the field in fundraising last month, hauling in $261,370 in October.
Democratic frontrunner Attorney General Martha Coakley has not yet cracked $100,000 in monthly donations during her bid for the Corner Office, and Treasurer Steven Grossman, who has led the Democratic side in fundraising, had his best month in September, when he took in $164,770. A News Service review also showed Coakley was outraised in October by Juliette Kayyem, former security advisor to President Barack Obama and Gov. Deval Patrick, $95,571 to $89,485.
“Between the Boston mayoral race and all the massive sums of money that have come out of Massachusetts in recent elections – you’ve got Brown and Romney and the specials – there’s some fatigue,” said Baker’s campaign manager, Jim Conroy. “I think we’ve done a very good job in navigating that, and it speaks to the incredible level of support Charlie has.”
UMass Boston political science professor Maurice Cunningham said Baker’s performance is “very impressive” compared with Grossman, who he called a “superb fundraiser.”
“I think there’s an enormous benefit to having been down this road before. He is a serious, formidable candidate,” Cunningham said, discerning a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic field. He said, “I don’t see excitement on that side. And I think there’s a sense that Baker’s a very, very strong candidate.”
Candidates are required to file their November campaign finance reports with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance by Thursday.
With less than a year until the final contest, Baker is the lone Republican in the hunt. Among Democrats, Coakley and Grossman are vying with health care executive Joe Avellone, former Obama Medicare and Medicaid appointee Don Berwick and Juliette Kayyem, a former Boston Globe columnist and former security advisor to President Barack Obama and Gov. Deval Patrick.
At a Republican forum in Braintree in early April, Baker critiqued rules such as the inability to launch an exploratory committee and donation limits as strictures that benefit incumbents.
“We have a $500 limit. Five hundred dollars, you know, in this day and age, I’m sorry, is crazy,” Baker said. “I mean the federal limit is $2,500 in the primary; $2,500 in the general. A number of other states, people have gone to court to say that this is a suppression of free speech. They’ve won. I think Massachusetts probably ought to move – I mean, I think. What do you think about having a ballot question that deals with some of these silly incumbent protection rules?”
Cunningham said Baker would have an easier time running for an open seat rather than trying to unseat an incumbent Democrat.
On Monday, the Boston Globe reported that Republican Karyn Polito, a former state representative and 2010 candidate for state treasurer, would soon announce her candidacy for lieutenant governor. Polito plans to discuss her plans for the 2014 election cycle Tuesday morning in Shrewsbury.
In 2010, Patrick beat Baker 47.9 percent to 41.6 percent as former state Treasurer Tim Cahill, running as an independent, took 7.9 percent of the vote. Two independents are in the running for the open seat next year, former health care executive Evan Falchuk, and investor Jeffrey McCormick.
Baker’s prior run has laid some groundwork for his attempt next year.
“The first step for any candidate is to reach out to people they know. In Charlie’s case, he raised a bunch of money last time, and so that’s really the first place you go,” Conroy said.
Conroy said Baker has been meeting with voters, raising money, planning and organizing the campaign. He said, “We do want to spend a considerable amount of time reintroducing voters to Charlie.”
In October, Grossman took in $163,405; Kayyem took in $95,571; Coakley took in $89,485; Berwick took in $33,052; and Avellone took in $19,674. Falchuk took in $115,676, including $100,000 from himself. McCormick has filed papers but has not yet launched a campaign.
In 2010, Democrats blamed Baker, a former secretary of administration and finance, for his involvement in the financing of the Big Dig project, burying Interstate 93 below downtown Boston, which added considerably to the state’s debt burden. The Democratic Party reprised the line of Big Dig criticism in a video titled “Remember Big Dig Baker?” right around the time of Baker’s September campaign launch.
“They’ve already done it. They went there on launch day. And we would assume that would be among the attacks,” said Conroy. “It’s a tired line.”
A Connecticut native with family from Massachusetts, Conroy ran the campaign of Republican Tom Smith who tried to unseat U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat. Before that, Conroy was executive director of the Connecticut Republican Party, working previously for a congressional candidate, a lieutenant governor candidate and the John McCain campaign.