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Who’s with whom

When John Kerry bowed out of the presidential sweepstakes, it freed Boston’s big Democratic brokers to find a favorite.
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  March 29, 2007


For Democratic presidential candidates, Boston is the ATM kiosk on the way to New Hampshire. Massachusetts’s primary votes — few in number and late in the process — don’t mean much, but the Bay State’s deep-pocketed liberals dispense large quantities of cash that pays for the staff, offices, phone banks, and advertising necessary to win votes in Manchester and Keene, as well as in other early-voting states across the country.

Last go-round, most of the area’s big fundraisers made the easy choice to support their home-state senator John Kerry: 57 Bay Staters served as contribution “bundlers” for Kerry, including two dozen who raised $100,000 each. There were only rare exceptions — such as former DNC chair Steve Grossman, who signed on with Howard Dean.

This time, the choice is tougher. Kerry announced his decision not to join the presidential race on January 24, setting off a frenzy of phone calls between the Democratic candidates and the A-List Democratic fundraisers of Massachusetts.

The pace has been accelerated by the pressure on candidates to register impressive fundraising totals for the first reporting period of the year, which ends on March 31.

The major candidates — Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson — are all raising money in Beantown before that deadline. Obama slipped into town earlier this month for a breakfast fundraiser in Cambridge, and returned last week for a reported $2300-a-head gathering, both at supporters’ homes. Local attorney Alex MacDonald hosted a fundraising dinner for Edwards this month. Biden held a lunch at the Boston Harbor Hotel — at $500 for supporters and $1000 for benefactors — after attending Southie’s St. Patrick’s Day breakfast on the 18th. The following day, Dodd was at Sonsie, where the minimum “suggested donation” was $1000. Richardson has a $1000-a-plate lunch at the Harvard Club scheduled for this Wednesday. And Friday evening, Clinton wraps up her first-quarter effort with a blow-out dinner at the Boston Park Plaza — donations starting at $1000.

This fluster of activity suggests just how much the candidates care about their upcoming first-quarter financial reports, which are due by April 15. It’s their first real test, and to pass it they need to not just outdo one another, but to prove they can compete in a front-loaded, national nomination contest, where nearly half the states, including California, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois, and New York, could choose their delegates by early February 2008.

“The race is going to be over on February fifth,” says Thomas O’Neill III, head of O’Neill & Associates consulting firm, former lieutenant governor, son of the legendary US Speaker of the House, and a much sought-after fundraiser. “In order to be a legitimate candidate, these guys are going to need to have $25 to $35 million.”

Hence the fundraisers. But fundraisers don’t mean much without funders. So the heat has been on folks like O’Neill to pick a candidate early — not just to give their own money, but to raise it from others. “There’s a lot of pressure,” says Robert Crowe, CEO of WolfBlock Public Strategies, and co-chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2004. “Getting in early is great, you become part of the family.”

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  Topics: Talking Politics , Deval Patrick, Barack Obama, Democratic National Committee,  More more >
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David A. Boyarsky, real estate
John Cahill, O’Neill & Associates, lobbyist
Jack Connors, Hill Holliday founder
George Cronin, Rasky Baerlein, PR
Kevin Fitzgerald, former state representative
Chad Gifford, Bank of America
Bob Glovsky, Mintz Levin, lobbyist
Ed Goldman, WBZ/ProMedia
Mary Liz Kane, Liberty Square Group, PR
Woody Kaplan, ACLU, activist
Larry Rasky, Rasky Barlein, PR

Bonnie Berger, Boston College professor
Beth Boland, Bingham McCutcheon
Mary Breslauer, Human Rights Campaign
George Cloutier, AMS
Evan Dobelle, former DNC Treasurer
Thomas Glynn, Partners Healthcare
Deborah Goldberg, lieutenant-governor candidate
Steve Grossman, Mass Envelope
Rebecca Haag, AIDS Action
Gordon Hayes, LeBoeuf Lamb, corporate law
Swanee Hunt, former ambassador
Howard Kessler, financier
Elaine Kirshenbaum, Mass Medical
Barbara Lee, philanthropist
Marc Pacheco, state senator
Jonathan Patsavos, Kerry finance director
Lois Pines, former state senator
Alix Ritchie, Provincetown Banner
Gail Roberts, real estate
Donald L. Saunders, hotelier
Elaine & Gerry Schuster, financiers

Charles Baker, Dewey Square Group, PR
Charles Campion, Dewey Square Group, PR
Michael Danziger
Nina & David Fialkow, venture capitalists
John Fowler
Richard Friedman, developer
Nick Littlefield, Foley Hoag, law
Patrick Lyons, club owner
Kevin Phelan, Meredith & Grew, real estate

Beth Leonard, former Kerry aide
Alex MacDonald, trial attorney

Barry Bluestone, Northeastern University
William Cowan, Mintz Levin, lobbyist
Cheryl Cronin, Brown Rudnick, law
Philip Edmundson, insurance
Paul Eggerman, entrepreneur
Bernie & Carol Fulp, Go Biz/John Hancock
Mark Goodman, venture capitalist
Philip Johnston, party chair
Geoff Lewis, attorney
Betsy Myers, former Bill Clinton advisor
Scott Nathan, investor
Don Nova, venture capitalist
Charles Ogletree, Harvard Law School
Michael Perik, publishing
Collette Phillips, public relations
Alan Solomont, venture capitalist
Michael Thornton, trial attorney
Larry Tribe, Harvard Law School
Barry White, Foley Hoag

Dorothy Dyer
Larry Gulko, brand marketer
Thomas J. Holloway, attorney
Pat Keenan-Loope
Bill Kennedy
David Rice
Oscar Soto, AIDS activist

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