By Mac Cerullo
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Citing significant deficiencies in the nation’s mental health care system, local psychiatrist and best-selling author Dr. Keith Ablow is seriously considering a run for John Kerry’s U.S. Senate seat.
The 51-year-old Newbury Republican and frequent Fox News contributor announced last week that if former senator Scott Brown and former governor William Weld decide not to run for Kerry’s soon-to-be-vacant seat, he would strongly consider seeking his party’s nomination. Kerry is poised to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.
“I think people are ready for someone who is committed to getting to the truth and who wants to do the hard work of fixing our tax system, tackling the debt, revamping our education system and building our mental health care system so we’re not exposed to events like the one in Newtown, Conn.,” Ablow said, adding that he does not believe gun control would be an effective solution.
Ablow has never held public office and has very little political experience, but he said he isn’t worried about the adjustment becoming a lawmaker would require. He described himself as a “fast study” and believes he could put his experience as a doctor and a businessman to good use in Washington.
“I’m not a career politician, I’m a politician with a career,” Ablow said. “I think we need more people from outside the process to enter the process.”
Ablow’s Senate aspirations have been known for several years now. In 2010, he was spotted at a dinner function with national Republican strategist Roger Stone, who reportedly asked him to consider running for Kerry’s senate seat in 2014.
Stone remains one of Ablow’s biggest political supporters, and Ablow said he was among those urging him to run, along with Joshua Resnek, founder of the Boston-based Independent Newspaper Group, and others who he said requested not to be named.
So far, neither Brown nor Weld have indicated whether they will run, but Ablow said he expects to make his decision shortly after they make theirs. The reason for the delay, he said, is because he thinks it’s important that the Republican candidate emerge from the primary in a strong position to challenge the eventual Democratic nominee.
“The reason I think it’s important to wait to see their intentions is because a bruising Republican primary would be in no one’s interests,” Ablow said. “I’m the newcomer to this field, and so it seems appropriate to find out whether either of these candidates intends to move forward.”
If Ablow does decide to run, he will likely face considerable heat from his prospective Democratic opponent over his past commentary on Fox News. He has generated controversy in the past for his stances on homosexuality and violence in the media, and last November he raised eyebrows when he suggested that Vice President Joe Biden was suffering from dementia after the vice presidential debate.
Regardless, Ablow said he stands by everything he has said on the network because “it’s what I really think,” and he added that voters who want to get to know him better will have an extensive record to refer to, and he hopes they take advantage of that.
Ablow has lived in the Newbury area for the past 12 years and operates a psychiatry clinic along the Newburyport waterfront at 36 Water St. He said he loves living in the area and if elected, he hopes to use his influence to help build up the economy and protect Plum Island homes from further beach erosion.
In light of the recent storm that rendered four Annapolis Way homes uninhabitable, Ablow, who is a former Plum Island resident himself, said he would be in favor of granting homeowners in vulnerable beachfront areas greater ability to protect their homes.
“Plum Island is a magnificent natural resource and there is no reason it should meet an untimely demise,” he said. “It seems to me that the jetties should be rebuilt, that people should be left more creative and less restrained options to prevent erosion.”
While living on Plum Island, Ablow made headlines when he sued the owners of a barge and tugboat that washed ashore in front of his house and caused a “loss of use and enjoyment” of his property.
The barge and tugboat were sailing from Gloucester in 2002 to deliver construction equipment to the Chain Bridge, but the boats encountered rough seas and wound up ashore in front of Ablow’s home. The vessels remained for weeks afterward, where they were ripped apart by pounding waves, scattering metal fragments throughout the area.
Ablow sued three years later, reaching an out-of-court settlement with the owners of the two boats shortly before moving to his current home on Green Street in 2007.