Who’s with whom

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  March 29, 2007

Put in the best light, fundraisers like O’Neill and Crowe, with their access, experiences, and insight, function as gatekeepers who select the best candidates to compete for the nomination.

In reality, though, many simply back candidates with whom they have personal relationships.

Kevin Phelan, a real-estate heavyweight who is supporting Dodd, concedes the point. “It’s not ideological, it’s purely personal,” Phelan says. “Chris and I started as freshmen at Providence College in 1962. We had dinner last year at our 40th reunion, and he asked me to help him out.”

The same goes for developer Richard Friedman’s support for Dodd, despite his well-known close relationship with the Clintons, whom he has hosted many times at his Martha’s Vineyard home and at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, which is one of his properties. “[Dodd] has been my best friend for a very long time; we’re dear, dear friends,” Friedman says.

Attorney Alex MacDonald sings the same tune. “I came to this [supporting Edwards] in a very personal, not political way,” says MacDonald. He met Edwards in early 2002, over dinner at a friend’s house, and came away impressed; he led Edwards’s Massachusetts team then and is doing so again.

This year, some are making that kind of personal-impression decision about Obama — and in some cases, turning against long-time friends in the process. The most-noted among this breed, perhaps, is Alan Solomont, local financier and major-league Democratic fundraiser. Solomont, who chaired John Kerry’s fundraising effort in ’04, has been close to the Clintons for years and was expected by many to join the Hillary effort, or, if he did shift, to deflect toward his former Tufts classmate Richardson. Instead, he joined the Obama bandwagon soon after Kerry made his announcement.

Solomont says he chose Obama because he truly believes the Illinois senator is the right candidate at the right time for the country. But he may also have been tempted, some suggest, by the opportunity to be a big player in the start-up campaign, rather than get lost in the vast Clinton fundraising machinery.

These early supporters bring more than money to a candidate. Solomont’s presence on Obama’s team helps reassure potential Jewish supporters, many of whom were offended by the candidate’s recent comments on Israel, for example. “You’re seeing the candidates begin by trying to pick off people who are strong fundraisers or who give their candidacies political credibility,” Solomont says.

Early rush
The early rush to declare one’s intentions has drawn criticism from some who want to see the candidates campaign for a while before declaring. “There’s this whole class of people who care more about being in the game than common sense,” says one major local funder. It was this group, or many among them, who rallied early around Attorney General Tom Reilly in the recent gubernatorial race, for instance. “They feel they have more experience and more insight, and should be the first to select a candidate. But they show worse judgment, not better, than average voters,” the funder says.

Not everyone feels that need for involvement — especially those who went all-out for Kerry last time around, such as Jack Manning, CEO of Boston Capital. Manning counts Biden, Clinton, and Dodd among his “very good friends,” says spokesperson David Gasson, but isn’t yet ready to throw himself into another presidential whirlwind. “Jack put a lot of himself into Senator Kerry’s campaign,” Gasson says. “He’s a recovering supporter.”

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  Topics: Talking Politics , Deval Patrick, Barack Obama, Democratic National Committee,  More more >
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Biden
David A. Boyarsky, real estate
John Cahill, O’Neill & Associates, lobbyist
Jack Connors, Hill Holliday founder
George Cronin, Rasky Baerlein, PR
Kevin Fitzgerald, former state representative
Chad Gifford, Bank of America
Bob Glovsky, Mintz Levin, lobbyist
Ed Goldman, WBZ/ProMedia
Mary Liz Kane, Liberty Square Group, PR
Woody Kaplan, ACLU, activist
Larry Rasky, Rasky Barlein, PR

Clinton
Bonnie Berger, Boston College professor
Beth Boland, Bingham McCutcheon
Mary Breslauer, Human Rights Campaign
George Cloutier, AMS
Evan Dobelle, former DNC Treasurer
Thomas Glynn, Partners Healthcare
Deborah Goldberg, lieutenant-governor candidate
Steve Grossman, Mass Envelope
Rebecca Haag, AIDS Action
Gordon Hayes, LeBoeuf Lamb, corporate law
Swanee Hunt, former ambassador
Howard Kessler, financier
Elaine Kirshenbaum, Mass Medical
Barbara Lee, philanthropist
Marc Pacheco, state senator
Jonathan Patsavos, Kerry finance director
Lois Pines, former state senator
Alix Ritchie, Provincetown Banner
Gail Roberts, real estate
Donald L. Saunders, hotelier
Elaine & Gerry Schuster, financiers

Dodd
Charles Baker, Dewey Square Group, PR
Charles Campion, Dewey Square Group, PR
Michael Danziger
Nina & David Fialkow, venture capitalists
John Fowler
Richard Friedman, developer
Nick Littlefield, Foley Hoag, law
Patrick Lyons, club owner
Kevin Phelan, Meredith & Grew, real estate

Edwards
Beth Leonard, former Kerry aide
Alex MacDonald, trial attorney

Obama
Barry Bluestone, Northeastern University
William Cowan, Mintz Levin, lobbyist
Cheryl Cronin, Brown Rudnick, law
Philip Edmundson, insurance
Paul Eggerman, entrepreneur
Bernie & Carol Fulp, Go Biz/John Hancock
Mark Goodman, venture capitalist
Philip Johnston, party chair
Geoff Lewis, attorney
Betsy Myers, former Bill Clinton advisor
Scott Nathan, investor
Don Nova, venture capitalist
Charles Ogletree, Harvard Law School
Michael Perik, publishing
Collette Phillips, public relations
Alan Solomont, venture capitalist
Michael Thornton, trial attorney
Larry Tribe, Harvard Law School
Barry White, Foley Hoag

Richardson
Dorothy Dyer
Larry Gulko, brand marketer
Thomas J. Holloway, attorney
Pat Keenan-Loope
Bill Kennedy
David Rice
Oscar Soto, AIDS activist

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