BOSTON (State House News Service) – The formation of a new super PAC to support Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll’s campaign for lieutenant governor drew condemnation Wednesday from one of Driscoll’s main rivals — Sen. Eric Lesser — over the expected support from a wealthy real estate investor and GOP donor.
The Leadership for Mass super PAC, chaired by former legislator and Braintree Mayor Joe Sullivan, filed paperwork Wednesday to get involved in the three-way primary for lieutenant governor with just seven weeks until Election Day. Super PACs can accept unlimited donations, but are prohibited from coordinating directly with a campaign.
The Boston Globe first reported on the efforts and the likelihood that Leadership for Mass will be backed by Christopher Collins, the co-founder of the real estate investment company First Atlantic LLC and major donor to national Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He also donated more than $50,000 to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, and has given to prominent state Democrats like Attorney General Maura Healey, U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan and Attorney General candidate Andrea Campbell.
“The financial backer of this Super PAC has a long history of funding right-wing U.S. Senators and Governors who are eliminating reproductive rights, blocking common-sense gun safety laws, and setting us back decades in our effort to fight climate change. This type of interference has no place in Massachusetts. Our Commonwealth deserves a Lieutenant Governor untainted by right wing special interests,” Lesser said in a statement.
An organizer with the new super PAC confirmed that Collins supports Driscoll’s campaign and is expected to contribute, though how much remains to be seen.
Keyser Public Strategies, led by one of Gov. Charlie Baker’s senior political advisors Will Keyser and and his wife Eileen O’Connor, will be the lead consultant to the super PAC.
Sullivan, who worked closely with Driscoll as a metro mayor for 12 years, called Driscoll a “transformational leader who improves the lives of the people of Salem, and is a terrific partner and sounding board to her fellow Mayors.” “As Lt. Governor, she will bring her proven brand of leadership and experience to the entire Commonwealth and will be a great partner to Maura Healey,” Sullivan said in a statement.
Lesser told supporters last week that he was filming a television ad on Friday and preparing to go on air soon as mail-in ballot applications have begun arriving at voters homes. At the end of June, the Longmeadow Democrat had nearly $1.1 million in his campaign account to Driscoll’s $276,341. The third Democrat in the race — Rep. Tami Gouveia — reported just $55,414 in cash on hand, but recently received an infusion of public financing dollars that would more than double the size of her bank account.