NEWBURY — Newbury psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow yesterday said he will only declare his candidacy to fill John Kerry’s U.S. Senate seat if he is the sole Republican candidate on the ballot and he has the full support of the GOP party.
Ablow said he’s not interested in campaigning for the seat if it means first battling another Republican candidate in a primary fight — nor does he think such a fight would be advisable for the party.
The Fox News contributor said his potential candidacy is predicated on the party’s full leadership at the state and national level being united around him to preclude a primary. But he acknowledged such a show of “unity looks improbable at this time.”
“The window is short for a primary battle,” Ablow said in an interview. “I think spending money on a primary, which should be spent on defeating someone in the general election, is ill-advised, that and the time wasted being contentious with another Republican candidate when the whole party has to be unified in an extraordinary way to have even a chance of prevailing, those are the reasons I’m not interested in fighting through a primary.”
The primary is scheduled for April 30, with the special election to be held on June 25.
Ablow announced last month that he would consider running as a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate if both former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld opted out as candidates. Brown took himself out of the race on Friday, and Weld followed suit yesterday.
The list of potential Republican candidates to replace Kerry, who was confirmed last week as U.S. secretary of state, has been shrinking every day.
Former Gov. Jane Swift has ruled out a run, as has Richard Tisei, the former state Senate minority leader who ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Rep. John Tierney last fall. Former Gov. and presidential hopeful Mitt Romey’s son, Tagg Romney, whose name was being floated, announced last night that he wasn’t interested in pursuing the seat.
That leaves Romney’s former lieutenant governor, Kerry Healey, who also served as a foreign policy adviser in Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign; ex-Navy SEAL and fighter pilot Gabriel Gomez; Massachusetts state Rep. Dan Winslow, R-Norfolk, who is expected to announce his decision today; and former state Rep. Karyn Polito among the remaining possible candidates
Congressmen Edward Markey of Malden and Stephen Lynch of South Boston are vying for the Democratic nomination in the special election.
Ablow, an outspoken conservative commentator who calls himself a political outsider, said he’s been talking with national Republican operative Roger Stone as well as some key party figures on the state level, who he said aren’t comfortable publicly revealing themselves at this time.
He expects the picture to become clearer in the next few days, since a decision on who enters the race must be made quickly. Party candidates have until Feb. 27 to turn in 10,000 signatures to election officials to be included on the ballot. Ablow said the task is no small feat.
“If one started today, they would need to get 500 signatures a day,” he said.
Ablow doesn’t believe the Republican Party can go without a candidate in the race.
“I can’t imagine the party would like the special election to go uncontested, nor do they need to ... and they just might win,” he said.
But he also acknowledged he might not be exactly whom the party has in mind.
“The theme for my campaign would be that the truth doesn’t have a political agenda. This wouldn’t be about making myself palatable to the greatest number of people. This would be about being completely honest about what I think and why and letting people make their own, autonomous, honest judgments.
“ ... To candy-coat anything I believe in or withhold any opinion I have on an issue would be counter to everything I have worked for my entire life.”
If the Republican Party opts to support another candidate, Ablow said he will work hard to elect that individual. And should that candidate lose, he would likely offer again to be a Senate candidate from Massachusetts in 2014 — under the same demands of the party leadership
“Nobody knows the future. To predict a year or two or five from now is folly,” he said. “It might not be today, but maybe it will be in the future that plainspoken beliefs are embraced because they are not enough right now.”