Republicans Concerned Blizzard Could Leave Them Without Mass. Senate Candidate
With a blizzard poised to blanket Massachusetts with over two feet of snow this weekend, some Bay State Republicans are concerned that the storm could jeopardize the ability of state Rep. Dan Winslow and other GOP candidates to qualify for the ballot in the special election to replace Secretary of State John Kerry.
Candidates for the special election must submit 10,000 certified signatures by Feb. 27 to qualify for the April 30 primary. With Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick (D) declaring a state of emergency Friday afternoon and banning cars from driving on the roads, Senate contenders are forced to put a hold on signature collecting until the storm passes.
"I think any day lost is obviously going to be a huge impediment," Massachusetts GOP strategist Meredith Warren said. "I would assume that this would've been a huge weekend for someone like Dan Winslow to be out getting signatures but...everyone's hunkered down."
Democrats will have to deal with the blizzard's effects as well, but the issue is particularly problematic for Winslow and the GOP. There is a much deeper pool of registered Democrats in deep-blue Massachusetts than registered Republicans. The state GOP also lacks the legions of party activists and union members willing to scour the state on behalf of Democratic Reps. Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch. Winslow didn't officially enter the race until Thursday, and he lacks the built-in campaign apparatus that former Sen. Scott Brown would have brought to the race.
With all those factors working against him, Winslow could have used this weekend -- one of only three before the deadline -- to solicit signatures from willing Republicans. And some state Republicans worry about the possibility of blackouts or days of clean-up extending the dead period for collecting signatures well into next week.
"It's going to put a lot to do in a very short time frame," said state House Minority Leader Brad Jones. "Even barring a blizzard, it's a tough time of year to get signatures just temperature-wise and standing on street corners and asking people to solicit them, let alone stopping people to actually sign them."
Winslow has invested $100,000 of his own money into his campaign, and he may need to use a large chunk of that cash to pay people to collect signatures for him in the coming weeks. A GOP operative told the Boston Herald this week that such efforts can cost campaigns up to $100,000.
A former aide to Mitt Romney, Winslow has emerged as the most likely GOP nominee after Brown and a series of other higher-profile Republicans passed on the race. Markey is considered the favorite to secure the Democratic nod, and Republicans face long odds in flipping the seat without Brown on the ballot.