Baker-linked PAC backs 13 Dems, 4 Republicans in primary battles
Spends nearly $94,000, with 53% going to 2 Governor’s Council races
A SUPER PAC with ties to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is pouring nearly $94,000 into 17 state primary races involving 13 Democrats and four Republicans.
The Massachusetts Majority Political Action Committee is backing 11 Democratic incumbent legislators, one Republican incumbent lawmaker, three GOP candidates running for House seats, and two Democrats running for seats on the Governor’s Council.
The PAC was created after Baker lost control of the Massachusetts Republican Party to backers of President Trump, and appears to support candidates from both parties who tend to be political centrists or have political or strategic ties to either Baker or Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. Baker has said little about the PAC, but it has raised more than $1.2 million and spent $435,982 since it was formed earlier this year.
The money is going for direct mail ads in support of the candidates, with just over half of the money ($49,704) going for just two Governor’s Council races. The PAC expenditures in the Governor’s Council races dwarf the amounts being spent by the candidates themselves.
The PAC with ties to Baker is also supporting nine Democratic incumbents in the House and two in the Senate who are facing primary challenges. Several of the Democrats are facing challenges from the left, including Reps. Kevin Honan and Daniel Ryan of Boston. Mailings from the PAC for the two legislators started landing in mailboxes in their districts on Saturday.
“Honestly, I was surprised,” said Ryan, a third-term lawmaker from Charlestown. But he said he’s worked well with the administration and that Baker “would be a good Democrat in 49 other states.” Regarding the PAC’s expenditures on his behalf, Ryan said, “I’ll take it.”
His challenger, Chelsea City Councilor Damali Vidot, said the expenditures undercut Ryan’s claim that he is a progressive whose views align with hers on many issues. She said the outside spending suggests the race is “about hoarding political power” and not letting “regular folks have a seat at the table.”
Jordan Meehan, an environmental and LGBT activist who is challenging Honan for the Allston-Brighton seat he’s held for more than three decades, said the PAC spending also exposes differences in their race between candidates who have both claimed the progressive mantle. “It’s interesting that someone who calls themself the original progressive is getting support from a Republican super PAC,” Meehan said of Honan. “It seems like whoever is behind that super PAC does not want a Legislature that will hold a Republican accountable, and that they will spend big to preserve that status quo.”
For his part, Honan was unenthused about the outside backing for his campaign. “It’s news to me that this organization was getting involved,” he said. “We’ve been running an inclusive, grassroots campaign focused on our shared progressive vision for Massachusetts and getting things done for the residents of Allston and Brighton. We do not need their support.”In addition to Ryan and Honan, the House Democrats getting a boost from the super PAC are Reps. Paul Donato of Medford, John Lawn of Watertown, Joseph McGonagle of Everett, Frank Moran of Lawrence, Jerald Parisella of Beverly, David Rogers of Cambridge, and John Rogers of Norwood.
The Massachusetts Majority PAC also weighed in in Republican primary races. The PAC spent $2,330 on a mailing in support of incumbent Rep. Nicholas Boldyga of Southwick, who is facing a primary challenge from Dino Mercadante of Agawam. It spent $2,598 on a mailing in support of Shishan Wang of Andover, who is running against Jeffrey DuFour of Tewskbury for the right to challenge incumbent Democratic Rep. Tran Nguyen. And the PAC spent $3,628 on a mailing in support of Steven Xiarhos of Barnstable who is running against Thomas Keyes of Sandwich for an open seat.