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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