Khazei senior advisor Michael Meehan sure hopes so. "Nearly a million dollars in the second quarter for a guy who doesn't hold office is a pretty impressive number," Meehan said. "One of the things the national party looks at is your ability to raise money and your ability to poll well against an incumbent. So the one variable Alan can control is raising money, and he put a big number up there." The main reason Khazei hasn't been considered a heavy hitter up to this point is his performance during the special election for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's, D-Mass., Senate seat in 2009. Khazei raised a substantial amount of money in that race too, but the political newcomer ended up a distant third in the primary, behind Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (who went on to lose to Brown) and to Rep. Mike Capuano, D-Mass., who placed second in the primary. "It's hard to think that a guy who came in third behind the woman who lost to Scott Brown is your path to victory," said Massachusetts Democratic strategist Scott Ferson. And there had been no indication, prior to the release of the fundraising numbers, that Khazei would perform better this time around. But Ferson says the big haul does change things. "He woke up Monday morning a serious candidate," said Ferson. "That's serious money. I don't care what your name is, that's serious money. And I guess there's the larger picture in terms of trying to look for a premiere name, I get that. But in the field as it's currently constituted, he could be right now the frontrunner, just based on the money alone." The name that most observers have speculated about is Consumer Financial Protection Bureau special adviser Elizabeth Warren, who is believed to be considering the race. But she's provided no indication she will run. Rep. Mike Capuano, D-Mass., is also mulling a bid, but he may be reluctant to give up his House seat. Massachusetts Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh said Khazei's fundraising total exceeded expectations and that there was both good and bad news for Democrats in the Massachusetts fundraising numbers. "Alan Khazei raising $920,000 was a big surprise to most people," said Marsh. "It looks like Alan picked up where he left off when it comes to fundraising. It's not good news for the rest of the field because he raised basically nine times more than anyone else, but the bad news is Scott Brown raised twice as much as Alan Khazei to add to his already $8 million war chest." Indeed, Brown's $1.98 million take and $9.6 million war chest dwarf Khazei's coffers -- but whichever Democrat makes it through the primary can expect extensive monetary support, as Democrats have made beating Brown a top priority in 2012. Still, a candidate will have to prove some fundraising ability in order to get past the primary, something the rest of the Democratic field failed to do this quarter. The second-place fundraiser is Newton Mayor Setti Warren, who brought in just $122,000 over the past three months. Khazei's numbers set him apart from the rest of the field, and gave him the most tangible momentum boost in the race so far. We'll see whether he can harness it moving forward and convince voters that he deserves a shot at Scott Brown this time.
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