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Baker’s Democratic challenger calls for outside cash limits

By BOB SALSBERGSeptember 5, 2018

BOSTON (AP) — Democrat Jay Gonzalez launched his underdog campaign against Republican Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday by asking the incumbent to sign an agreement limiting the impact of outside groups and money in the general election campaign.

Baker’s campaign seemed initially cool to the idea of a so-called “people’s pledge,” saying only that it planned to abide by the state’s campaign finance laws.

The pledge got its name from an agreement during the 2012 U.S. Senate race between then-Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren, who would go on to win the race. That pact barred political action committees and other outside groups from running ads for a candidate on radio, TV or internet.

Variations of the pledge have since been signed or proposed in political races in Massachusetts and across the country.

Gonzalez, who won the Democratic nomination Tuesday, said such an agreement would help “level the playing field” in his race against Baker, a popular incumbent with a sizeable fundraising edge over the Democrat.

“In order to ensure that regular people across Massachusetts are the ones who influence the outcome of the governor’s race, I’m calling on (Baker) to agree to a people’s pledge to keep dark money and super PACs out of this race,” Gonzalez said during a Democratic unity event in Boston.

The term “dark money” is often used to describe contributions from outside groups such as nonprofits that don’t have to disclose their donors under federal law.

Gonzalez did not specify the exact nature of the agreement he was seeking, nor whether it would encompass outside expenditures by labor unions that are traditionally aligned with Democratic contenders.

In the case of the Warren-Brown pledge, groups were able to spend on such things as mass mailings or “robo-calls” to voters, but not on direct ads.

“The campaign will continue to comply with the letter and spirit of all Massachusetts campaign finance laws and regulations,” said Baker campaign spokesman Terry MacCormack in a statement that did not directly address Gonzalez’s request.

A report filed Wednesday by the Democrat with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance showed his campaign ended the month of August with just under $188,000 cash on hand. Baker’s campaign fund showed an end-of-month balance of $6.3 million.


Associated Press writer Steve LeBlanc contributed to this report.

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