Khazei calls it quits in Democratic primary race.

Former Democratic Senate hopeful Alan Khazei (pic courtesy of ioc.harvard.edu).

Social entrepreneur turned  Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Alan Khazei  said Thursday that he will be ending his campaign for the U.S Senate. He made the announcement during  a press conference at his Boston campaign headquarters, a day after a spokesperson with the campaign told the Boston Globe that he would be dropping out.

Though he did not endorse any of the remaining four candidates in the race, including  front-runner and fellow candidate consumer financial advocate  Elizabeth Warren, the City Year co-founder acknowledged that her entry into the then crowded but largely unknown field  ‘ struck a chord with citizens across our state and across our country at all levels of the political process.’

He also slammed Brown, who he said ‘ has failed to lead when our country is crying out for Game changing leadership’ and said he is pulling out of the race to avoid the risk of creating inner party divisions that could produce a weakened candidate and thereby boost Brown’s re-election chances. 

It was widely believed by many that Khazei, with his respectable fundraising numbers and third place showing in the primary contest leading up to the 2010 special election, would be a front-runner for the nomination and a competitive candidate against Brown in the general election. His refusal though to accept donations from lobbyists and political action committees created some distance between him and some of the Democrats and progressive political groups that vaulted Warren into the race with large fanfare.

The day she entered the race, Khazei fired the first round when he challenged Warren and the other candidates to follow his lead and abstain from taking contributions from any lobbyists or PACs, a challenge that the Warren campaign balked at. Interestingly enough as of this posting, the challenge remains up on the now defunct campaign’s website.

No word on whether Khazei plans to endorse Warren officially, but Khazei has told the Globe that he and Warren did talk and will likely get together soon.

State Rep. Tom Conroy (D- 13th Middle Sex County) responded to the announcement with a post on his campaign’s Facebook Page, in which he calls Khazei ‘a good friend’ and applauds him on ‘a campaign that has engaged so many Massachusetts voters on so many of the important challenges we face as a state and a nation’.

Aside from Conroy and Warren, Middleton immigration attorney Marisa DeFranco and Herb Robinson, an electrician from Newton also remain in the race.

Honestly I have to say I thought Khazei would have stayed in a little longer. Previously he seemed to really be adamant about staying in the race and in a sign that he might still think so too, a column arguing that a Khazei departure could be bad for Warren, was attached to an email sent to supporters declaring an end to his campaign. If her recent gaffes become commonplace  or the latest strategy to paint her and the Occupy Wall Street movement as radicals to peel off working class white voters in South Boston, many Democrats might start to wish that the primary lasted longer.

Primaries after all, as long as they don’t get too nasty can help ferret out the weaker candidates from the more strong and seasoned; a sort of campaign Darwinism if you will. Then forged in the fire of inter party debate the most able candidate hopefully emerges. It just seems like having been in the race for a little over a month and with the primary election nearly eleven months away that might be happening too soon.

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In  yet another sign that Elizabeth Warren is on her way to being the Democratic Senate nominee, she was endorsed Thursday by former primary opponent and Newton Mayor Setti Warren, who is not related to Warren.

      Setti Warren told the Newton TAB in a phone interview that in the weeks since his withdrawal from the race on Sept. 29 he has spent time getting to know Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor  and former Obama administration official, and believes that she is the strongest candidate to beat Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican from Wrentham, in the election next fall. Elizabeth Warren officially joined the race on Sept. 14 but has quickly soared to the top of polls and fundraising charts, raising more than $3 million as of Sept. 30, according to her finance report.

“She has captured the imagination of Democrats nationally and here in Massachusetts,” Setti Warren told the Newton TAB. “I believe strongly that Scott Brown needs to be beaten. I’m proud to support her in that effort.”

The mayor said that Elizabeth Warren has shown “courage and conviction in the last few years in setting up [President Barack Obama’s] Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

Setti Warren, like Khazei was once thought to be a strong  candidate for the nomination, but with poor fundraising and low name identification, he  exited the race after about two weeks after Warren publicly declared her candidacy.

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It may still be releatively early in what is left of the Democratic primary, but you would never know it judging by the back and forth between the Warren and Brown camps.
     First the Mass GOP released an ad entitled ‘Matriarch of Mayhem’ ( and yes it is as cartoonish as it sounds). It comes days after Warren made the claim in an interview with the Daily Beast that she helped create ‘much of the intellectual framework’ of the ‘Occupy  movement’. In the ad  news coverage of arrests at Occupy rallies, anti-Wall Street quotes by Warren, and video clips of ‘Occupiers’ being interviewed are spliced together, to paint Warren as a violent anti-capitalist revolutionary.
                                       
    This ad was not produced or endorsed formally by the Brown campaign, but the Massachusetts Republican party is no doubt an ally of their own candidate. The aim here as Greg Sargent points out, is to create a divide between Warren and the more centrist white working class voters who while frustrated by Wall Street, might be turned off by the Occupy protests and the more liberal elements of the activist community. Its a strategy that has been used since the 1960s, pioneered by Richard Nixon in his 1968 and 72 presidential campaigns. It didn’t help him in Massachusetts in either of those races (Massachusetts was the only state he didn’t win in 1972), but maybe Republicans  believe they will have better luck next year.
  On the other side the League of Conservation Voters has now come out with an attack ad against Senator Scott Brown. In it they poke fun at his trademark pick-up truck and barn jacket, while criticizing his opposition to repealing tax breaks for oil companies and his overall record on the environment.
                  
      The ad itself though can’t seem to decide whether it wants to attack Brown or convince him to support the legislation mentioned to close loopholes for oil companies. If its the later, they might not want to slam his past votes and mention that he has a grade of 0 from the organization, and instead focus on the legislation. If its the later they could do away with the call to action at the end.
  For its part the Brown campaign responded saying that the claims in the ad are ‘extremely misleading’  and reacted with an ad of their own, rebutting the allegations one by one. In it they insist that Brown would support doing away with oil company loopholes if it was part of a broader tax reform package and that he has helped sponsor many pieces of bi-partisan environmental legislation. Get used to it Massachusetts, this is how the airwaves are likely to be until about this time next year.

 

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