The Fattmans highlight the power of campaign cash

Did Tran leave money unspent in his campaign account?

THE STATE’S Republican power couple – Stephanie and Ryan Fattman of Sutton – knows how to win elections.

The trick appears to be to raise a lot of money, spend nearly all of it, and run for office in a district that generally reflects your political values.

 From July through October, Stephanie Fattman spent $156,562 on her reelection campaign for register of probate in Worcester County. She defeated Democrat John Dolan III, a long-time employee of the office who decided to challenge his boss, by a margin of 54-46. Dolan spent $35,230 on his campaign during the same four-month time period.

 Sen. Ryan Fattman spent a whopping $190,891 over the pre-election, July-through-October period defending his seat against Democrat Christine Crean, a retired social worker for the state Department of Children and Families, who spent $17,800. Fattman won his fourth term in the Senate by a 60-40 margin.

 The spending by the Fattmans does not include money a super PAC affiliated with Gov. Charlie Baker spent on behalf of their campaigns — $68,793 for Ryan and $79,138 for Stephanie.

 “This is the first time I have won every town in my district. State senate districts, especially when you’re in the minority, aren’t the easiest to carry every single town and I am very proud of that,” said Ryan Fattman the day after the election at a thank-you standout with his wife.

 The only other state senator who topped $100,000 in spending over the four-month period was Democratic incumbent Becca Rausch of Needham, who spent $104,680. She defeated Republican Matthew Kelly of Franklin, who spent $44,140, by a 60-40 margin.

 Republican incumbent Sen. Patrick O’Connor of Weymouth spent $75,027 to defeat Democrat Meg Wheeler of Cohasset, who spent $27,774.

 Sen. Dean Tran of Fitchburg didn’t follow the maxim of raising a lot of money and spending most of it. Tran spent $82,505 on the race in the four months leading up to the election, and was outspent by his Democrat challenger, political newcomer John Cronin of Lunenburg, who reported spending $97,486.

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.

 What was curious was that Tran ended October with $35,774 sitting in his campaign account. He may have spent some of that money in the first couple days of November (those records aren’t available yet), but it seems strange that he held on to the money for so long, given the tightness of the race.

 Cronin ended up winning the election by the narrow margin of 51-49.