Another weekend, another significant snowfall forecast for parts of Massachusetts, and, possibly, another spoiled opportunity for Bay State Republicans seeking to qualify for the ballot in the Senate special election to gather signatures.
The forecast remains unclear, but the National Weather Service office in Taunton, Mass., posted Winter Storm Watches for areas north of the Massachusetts Turnpike, calling for accumulations of heavy, wet snow between 6 and 12 inches. South of the Mass Pike and along the coast, warm air may intrude, causing snow to mix with rain or ice. Any snow that does fall with this system is likely to be of a wet, heavy nature, and the Weather Service is warning that could lead to downed tree limbs and power outages. The worst of the storm is expected between Saturday night and midday Sunday.
The storm would be the third significant snow for Massachusetts in the past three weeks. From Feb. 8-9, Boston picked up 24.9 inches of snow, according to measurements taken at Logan Airport. Last weekend, Logan Airport reported an additional 5.1 inches of snow.
The new storm couldn't come at a worse time for candidates hoping to get on the ballot for the April 30 primary to replace Secretary of State John Kerry in the Senate. Candidates wishing to appear on the Democratic or Republican primary ballots need to submit 10,000 valid signatures to elections officials by 5 p.m. next Wednesday.
Hotline On Call checked in with some of the campaigns to determine where they were in the signature-gathering process:
• "Our signature operation is still going strong," said Conor Yunits, a spokesman for Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch, via email. "We have begun the process of submitting signatures to local city and town halls for certification, and will continue to do so right up until February 27. As we proved during the [Feb. 8-9] blizzard, a little snow won't slow down our volunteers."
• Democratic Rep. Edward Markey's campaign is also confident it won't have any issues meeting the deadline. "Our grassroots campaign can't print signature papers fast enough to keep up with demand," Markey campaign spokeswoman Giselle Barry said in an email Friday. "Ed's all-volunteer army of signature gatherers have exceeded all goals, covering every corner of the state from Pittsfield to Springfield to Lowell and the South Coast. Hundreds of supporters volunteered to collect signatures, and we've already submitted thousands of signatures to city halls across the state for certification."
• On the Republican side, state Rep. Dan Winslow said his campaign was "on pace" to collect the requisite signatures in time. "We have used this as an opportunity to build our statewide field team and to engage our volunteers," Winslow said in a brief phone interview Thursday.
Winslow discounted the idea that this weekend's storm would set his campaign back. "Massachusetts Republicans are the definition of hardy," he said.
• A spokesman for businessman Gabriel Gomez, Winslow's chief competition for the GOP nomination, told Hotline On Call in an email the storm would have "no impact" on the campaign's signature-gathering efforts. "We're confident that our campaign will meet the signature requirements by the deadline," said spokesman Lenny Alcivar.
• Earlier Friday, a spokeswoman for former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan told the Republican of Springfield, Mass., that it is "going to be tough" for Sullivan's campaign to gather the needed signatures by the deadline. "It's real tight to try to get 20,000 signatures with the snowstorm coming in," spokeswoman Holly Robichaud told the newspaper. Campaigns frequently gather roughly twice the required number of signatures to ensure they have enough that are valid. Sullivan is the only major GOP candidate not paying those gathering signatures for his candidacy.