The exciting roller coaster of Massachusetts politics continues...
Ever since Scott Brown shocked the heck out of everyone by declining to run for this year's special election for the Massachusetts Senate race to fill John Kerry's seat (despite all indications that he was in a strong position for that race), there has been a lot of speculation about who would run for the seat, and whether any of the Republicans had a chance.
Today, my phone and email blew up with reporters wanting to know if Sean Bielat, for whose Congressional campaign for MA-4 I had worked on last year, was indeed running for the seat.
A number of media outlets reported today that Sean is running; however, that is not quite accurate.
I spoke to Sean twice today, once very briefly and then a longer conversation just a few minutes ago. He is not running for Senate...yet. All he has done is form an exploratory committee.
A lot of this has to do with our byzantine mess of federal election laws. Many people had approached Sean about running, asked him if he would run, asked if he could help other candidates if he didn't run, etc. If Sean took any meaningful steps to accomplish any of this, spent gas money to drive to visit someone to discuss it, etc. very soon he would be in violation of the law if he did not register an exploratory committee.
Currently, several candidates have thrown their names in the hat. I do not know any of them personally and cannot comment on their merits. I do think it is fair to say that none of the Republicans have received broad consensus support (at least as far as what I see from people who are actually Massachusetts Republicans, and not just commenting from afar).
Sean does have several advantages from his previous campaigns: broader name recognition, a fundraising list in both Massachusetts and nationally, and a large network of grassroots supporters (not limited to the Fourth Congressional District). If he does throw his hat in the ring, this will be invaluable to gathering signatures, a task that may prove difficult for some other candidates.
So is he running? He's definitely not an official candidate yet and has not decided he is pulling the trigger on that. Anyone who is saying he is "definitely running" is misinformed or lying. However, he has not completely ruled it out. (My apologies if I was not precise in my tweets earlier today on the issue.)
|Sean and son Theo|
During our last conversation, he spoke most sincerely about how he was "really just enjoying spending more time being a dad again," but that the benefit of a special election is that it would be over in a few months, so that is less time away from his family.
If he does run, he'll be promoting the same fiscal responsibility issues that have been his priorities in his previous campaigns. Certainly compared to the records of Markey and Lynch, Sean has a lot to add to the debate.
I'll let you know if I hear anything more, but until then, media that want to get in touch with Sean can send a message to me at sarahrumpf at gmail dot com and I'll forward it to him.
UPDATE: Sean just posted the following statement on his website:
Over the past several weeks, I've been honored and humbled to receive so much support for a candidacy for U.S. Senate. As a result, I recently formed a special election exploratory committee. After all, the issues that compelled me to run in 2012 remain largely unresolved. Our economy is still weak, the debt is still soaring, our foreign policy continues to be reactive and ad hoc, and the executive branch is still undermining many of Congress's Constitutional prerogatives. We need new thinking in Washington and we need more balance in Massachusetts' congressional delegation.
Neither party has a lock on all the right answers. Unless we have balanced representation and reasoned dialogue, our chances of solving the complex problems we face are extremely limited. Massachusetts has not had a Republican in Congress since 1996, it's had only two years of Republican representation in the Senate, and only 15% of our state representatives and 10% of our state senators are Republican. Political diversity is a starting point for better policy outcomes. I believe we need more balance in Massachusetts.
Despite the importance of the ideas, after two difficult Congressional campaigns my wife Hope and I need to consider whether this is the right time for our family to go through another political campaign. Our daughter Seraphina is one and our son Theodore is two. Having had much more time with them since November has been a joy and a blessing.
I am very happy to see a field of highly-qualified Republicans in, or about to be in, this US Senate race. I will soon be making a final decision as to my plans for the special election, but I am encouraged by the fact that our volunteer infrastructure gives us a base to rapidly build our signature collecting and field outreach organization.
Follow me on Twitter at @rumpfshaker