Beacon Hill incumbents flex financial muscle

Rep. Sanchez spends nearly $200,000 fending off challenger; Sen. Lewis's tab is $119,000

UPDATED AT 7 A.M. TUESDAY

BEACON HILL INCUMBENTS facing a primary challenge from within their own party outspent their opponents by an overwhelming margin this year, according to campaign finance documents filed Monday.

Incumbents rule on Beacon Hill, with nearly four-fifths of the House and Senate members facing no challenge in the primary on September 4. More than half of those incumbents face no challenge in the general election, either.

The pre-primary campaign finance filings, which cover the period from January 1 to August 17, show why incumbents are hard to defeat. In the three Senate and 15 House races where incumbents are facing a challenge from a member of their own party, the incumbents as a group outspent their rivals by a margin of 2.5 to 1. The 18 incumbents as a group spent $745,583, while the 22 challengers spent a total of $288,166.

Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez of Jamaica Plain, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, spent a whopping $198,122 on his campaign against Nika Elugardo, who reported spending $87,027. Rep. Denise Garlick of Needham, a member of House leadership, spent $89,857 defending her seat against 24-year-old challenger Ted Steinberg, who spent $5,109.

Rep. Jose Tosado of Springfield spent $16,255, while his opponent, Mark Kenyon of Springfield, spent $538. Rep. Marjorie Decker of Cambridge spent $24,940, nearly seven times as much as her opponent, Lesley Phillips.

Sen. Jason Lewis of Winchester spent $119,335 campaigning to fend off a challenge from newcomer Samantha Hammar of Melrose, who spent $30,877. Sen. James Welch of West Springfield spent $81,928 defending his seat against Amaad Rivera of Springfield, who has spent $17,268 so far. Sen Adams Hinds of Pittsfield spent $28,576, while his opponent, Thomas Wickham of Lee, spent $1,062.

In a handful of races, the spending gap was either small or the challenger held the upper hand. Incumbent Rep. Rady Mom of Lowell was outspent by two of his three challengers. Mom spent $13,277 over the eight-month period while James Leary spent $16,427 and Rithy Uong spent $14,891. Rep. Angelo Scaccia of Hyde Park ($20,090) was outspent by his challenger, Segun Idowu ($22,151), and Republican Rep. Randy Hunt of Sandwich, who reported spending $7,458, was topped by his rival Ronald Beaty Jr. of Barnstable, who spent $9,943.

Rep. Sean Garballey of Arlington spent $15,782 while his opponent Lori Lennon, also of Arlington, spent $14,950. Rep. Colleen Garry of Dracut spent $22,876 on her campaign, slightly more than her challenger Sabrina Heisey, also of Dracut, who spent $19,282.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo faces no challenger in the primary or the general election but he nevertheless raised $412,066.

Two of his biggest sources of funds were law firms. Thirty-two employees at Mintz Levin and its lobbying arm, ML Strategies, donated a total of $8,529, on March 15. The donations represented about 2 percent of the money DeLeo raised. Thirty-two members of the law firm Nixon Peabody, which also has a lobbying arm, donated $8,000 to DeLeo on June 19.

DeLeo spent $241,920 during the eight-month period. One of his biggest expenses was the $34,115 he spent on a holiday party for House members at the UMass Club at One Beacon Street. He also spent $2,388 at Total Wine on gifts for House staffers, and $5,843 at the jewelry store EB Horn purchasing gifts for House members.

Sen. Karen Spilka, who ascended to the presidency in July, raised $186,679 so far this year. She faces no challenge in the primary or the general election.

Nixon Peabody and the law firm’s political action committee donated a total of $5,700 to Spilka, most of it on May 4. Nine members of Mintz Levin and ML Strategies donated $2,400 on April 4.

Spilka spent $127,868 from her campaign account, including a total of $13,000 in payments to Participate Consulting between May and June. Participate was headed by Sarah Blodgett, who Spilka subsequently brought in as her press spokeswoman. Spilka also reported $27,000 in payments to Melwood Global, which specializes strategic communications.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Other big fundraisers in the Senate during the pre-primary period included Sen. Eric Lesser of Springfield, who raised $123,680; Sen. Jamie Eldridge of Acton, who raised $108,892; and Republican Sen. Ryan Fattman, who raised $68,493. Sen. Nick Collins of South Boston raised $115,755, but he won a special election for his seat in May.

Over in the House, Majority Leader Ron Mariano of Quincy raised $162,360. Rep. Thomas Golden, the House chair of the Legislature’s Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy Committee, raised $61,149. Rep. David Nangle of Lowell raised $54,940.