Dem Candidate for Massachusetts Governor Drops Bid Due to 'Insurmountable' Financial Hurdles

Setti Warren and John Kerry / Getty Images
April 26, 2018

A top Democratic recruit in Massachusetts has abruptly ended his bid to unseat incumbent Republican Gov. Charlie Baker due to "insurmountable" financial challenges.

"We took a hard look at the numbers and what it would take to run a winning campaign against the incumbent governor," Setti Warren, the former mayor of Newton, Massachusetts, told the Boston Globe on Wednesday. "I just saw the challenge was insurmountable, based on the ability to raise the money and the resources."

Warren, who has only $51,644 in his account after a year of campaigning, said he would email supporters Thursday morning explaining his decision to end the campaign. Baker has $7.9 million in his campaign account.

Warren's departure delivers a blow to Democrats' hopes of retaking the governorship in a state that President Donald Trump lost by 27 percentage points.

Warren, a former aide to John Kerry and an Iraq War veteran, was the most prominent Democrat in the gubernatorial race. Since joining the race, Warren has adopted a progressive platform, calling for a single-payer health care system, free college tuition, high-speed rail, and increased income taxes on the states' top earners. His efforts had garnered the endorsement of former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis (D.) and Democracy for America, the progressive advocacy group founded by former Democratic National chairman Howard Dean.

With Warren's departure, two Democrats remain in the gubernatorial race: Jay Gonzalez, former secretary of administration and finance under Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, and Robert Massie, an environmental activist and the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 1994.

All three Democrats trail Baker in fundraising by wide margins. In the first two weeks of April, for example, Warren raised $16,034, easily outpacing his Democratic challengers, while Baker hauled in $251,587.

Baker's fundraising prowess has been bolstered by the centrist Republican's popularity statewide. Polls have consistently shown him as one of the most popular governors in the country.

Warren's decision to exit the race because of lagging fundraising does not bode well for the two remaining Democrats. Neither has held political office and both have trailed Warren in name recognition and money.

"I wanted to run a campaign that would have the capacity to win,’" Warren said. "I saw that we are not going to be able to do that."