A new Super PAC of wealthy businessmen tried to buy the Attleboro city election and failed, but it succeeded elsewhere across the state.
The Massachusetts Majority Independent Expenditure PAC, which just formed in May, spent a reported $267,429 on mayoral and city council races statewide, winning 11 of 15 of them.
Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux was immune to its attempts to oust him from office, even though it spent $20,000 boosting his challenger, City Councilor Heather Porreca.
It may not sound like a lot of money compared to state and national races, but $20,000 is an enormous amount of money in a place like Attleboro.
It is more than the candidates themselves spent.
The PAC sent out at least three flyers on behalf of Porreca at a time when her campaign was low on cash and was not sending out mailings of its own.
Heroux had saved his money until the end of the campaign to get the maximum impact on his flyers.
Nobody seems to know how the PAC came to support Porreca. It says it backs fiscally responsible candidates and Heroux has governed over a budget surplus, so who knows.
The group is associated with Gov. Charlie Baker, and it mostly backs Republicans. Baker endorsed Porreca, a Republican, so maybe that’s why.
But, these are extremely wealthy businessmen with unlimited money who don’t live in Attleboro, don’t have a stake in its future, but want a say in who its mayor should be.
The type of PAC they are involved in has different rules than fundraising for a candidate. They can contribute and spend unlimited amounts.
Granite Communications CEO Robert Hale, for instance, pitched in $100,000.
While the group had little or no impact in Attleboro, it backed winners elsewhere.
It spent a staggering $38,000 on the Worcester City Council campaign of Donna Colorio, who won despite the PAC misspelling Worcester in her flyers.
To put the $38,000 in perspective, many Attleboro City Council candidates spend no money or maybe $200 to get elected.
Some others who the PAC spent heavily on include Weymouth Mayor Robert Hedlund, $27,000; and Framingham City Councilor Janet Leonbruno, $24,500.
Elsewhere in politics
- Love him or hate him, you have to admit Heroux’s landslide 2-to-1 victory was remarkable.
He had not only the super PAC working against him, he had Baker, the firefighters union, and virtual every elected official working to defeat him.
But, while the city officials were talking to each other, Heroux was out talking to ordinary folks, knocking on the door of virtually every regular voter in the city.
- When the election was over, Heroux bought $130 worth of pizza for his supporters, leaving his campaign bank account with only $28 left.
- Ellen Parker of Attleboro said she has followed every city election since the 1970s when her father was a city councilor.
She said the one just concluded was by far the nastiest.