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The People’s Pledge Becomes An Issue In Mass. Senate Race

BOSTON — The campaign of Republican Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez says it’s raised $100,000 since Tuesday, when the Cohasset private equity manager won the nomination.

Money and who will advertise in this Senate race have become issues in the general election.

Gabriel Gomez, left, and U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (WBUR file photos)

Gabriel Gomez, left, and U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (WBUR file photos)

In the previous U.S. Senate race, which ended only six months ago, the two candidates did something historic: They agreed to keep negative ads by outside groups out of the race. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren signed “The People’s Pledge” — if any outside group advertised on television or radio for either one of them, the other had to give half that amount to charity.

Pam Wilmot, of Common Cause Massachusetts, said at a press conference outside the State House Thursday that it worked.

“The People’s Pledge significantly reduced outside money,” Wilmot said. “It significantly reduced negative advertising. It limited dark or secret money in our elections, and it boosted the role of small donors.”

Wilmot is calling on Gomez and his Democratic opponent, Ed Markey, to sign the pledge. Markey is on board if Gomez is.

“I am going to challenge Gabriel Gomez to take the People’s Pledge,” Markey told Democrats at a breakfast Wednesday. “To Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren’s credit, they reached an historic agreement which kept out that tsunami of politically polluted money that swept across all of the rest of the United States.”

But Gomez will not agree to the pledge.

“Let’s be honest about it,” Gomez told reporters at the Broadway T stop Wednesday morning. “Politicians make pledges because nobody trusts them, and I think it’s kind of the height of hypocrisy when Congressman Markey, who’s been taking outside money for the last 30 years from groups that he regulates and has control over, and now he wants me to do the same thing.”

“In order to defeat a Democrat in a Democratic state when you’re behind…any kind of outside assistance is going to be useful.”
– Peter Ubertaccio, chairman of the political science department at Stonehill College

The Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks these campaign contributions, reports that since 1989, Markey has indeed taken in $2.8 million from political action committees.

Peter Ubertaccio, chairman of the political science department at Stonehill College, explained why it’s not in Gomez’s interest to sign the People’s Pledge.

“In order to defeat a Democrat in a Democratic state when you’re behind — and you know that he’s going to be able to deploy troops into the field that you cannot possibly hope to match — any kind of outside assistance is going to be useful,” Ubertaccio said.

Ubertaccio said the path to victory for Gomez is to count on outside groups to demoralize Democrats.

“Keep them home, create doubt about Markey as an effective senator in the minds of Democrats and unenrolled voters, and one way you can do that is by allowing outside voices to come in and make those claims for you,” Ubertaccio said.

And yet Brown signed the People’s Pledge. But when he did, he had already raised significant amounts of money and so could take a chance. At the time, it looked like an example for future races. Now, it looks like it was a one-time deal.

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