TV ads from a PAC causes a stir in Massachusetts' lieutenant governor's race

Mayor of Salem Kim Driscoll, outside WBUR's CitySpace. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Mayor of Salem Kim Driscoll, outside WBUR's CitySpace. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

A political action committee, or PAC, called Leadership for Mass. this week began running television ads in support of Salem mayor Kim Driscoll.

The Boston Globe first reported the group is backed in part by a real estate investor who has donated to prominent national-level Republicans.

State Sen. Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow said Driscoll, who is his opponent in the Democratic primary, should answer to why "national level Republicans are now interfering on her behalf."

State Rep. Tami Gouveia, D-Acton, who is also vying for the job, in a statement called on Driscoll to "fully disavow this insidious PAC."

During an interview with NEPM in Springfield this week, Driscoll was asked about the advertisements and the PAC’s backing.

"You know, I don't really know that much about it,” she said. “I only read what I read in the newspaper. There's no collaboration or coordination permitted. I've been so focused on my campaign. We've got three weeks to go until September 6th's primary. We've been trying to get all across this commonwealth."

When asked about the criticism from Gouveia and Lesser, Driscoll replied: “I don’t think running a negative campaign is something I’ve ever engaged in,” before rattling off several items about her experience, issues she feels are important and endorsements. She concluded: “I’ve got a lot of folks that are supporting me, and I’m just going to keep it positive.”

As Driscoll pointed out, PACs are not allowed to work with campaigns directly. In terms of direct fundraising, Lesser remained well out in front of the field as of the end of July. According to state campaign finance data, he had $1,037,235 on hand. Driscoll sat at about $305,000 while Gouveia was at $196,000. That includes more than $140,000 Gouveia had accepted in public financing from the state.

At the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention in June, 41.4% of delegates endorsed Driscoll, 23% backed Gouveia while 21.2% went with Lesser.

The three-way primary will be held Tuesday, Sept. 6.

This story is a part of a production of New England News Collaborative. It was originally published by New England Public Media.



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