Ship without a rudder

By ADAM REILLY  |  March 3, 2006

When major decisions loom, this group takes on a few extra members. They include Neil Oxman, a Philadelphia-based media consultant who helped Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell win re-election in 2002; Massachusetts congressman Marty Meehan; and Will Keyser, director of corporate communications at the Boston PR firm Hill Holliday.

Reilly and Meehan, now co-chair of Reilly’s campaign, go way back. When Reilly was Middlesex County district attorney, Meehan was his first assistant. Reilly’s connection with Keyser, meanwhile, is an extension of his friendship with Meehan. In 1998, when Reilly faced tough opposition from state senator Lois Pines in his quest to jump from Middlesex DA to the AG’s office, Keyser left his post as Meehan’s chief of staff to serve as Reilly’s campaign manager. When Reilly prevailed after an especially bitter primary battle with Pines, Keyser received a good deal of the credit.

Then there are his friends
Two ex–chiefs of staff [see "Correction," below]; a campaign manager and an ex–campaign manager; overlap between the AG’s office and the campaign; a cadre of advisers who drop in for the big decisions — all that’s confusing enough. But the picture gets even murkier.

For starters, there are the assistant attorneys general who work in Reilly’s office. Several have been with Reilly since his days in Middlesex County, which leads one political observer to suggest that Reilly’s closest friends in this group constitute — at the very least — another cadre of de facto campaign councilors.

Then there are Reilly’s money men, Alan Solomont and Steve Grossman. Both deserve credit for helping Reilly build his campaign war chest, which totals nearly $4 million. As a former chairman of the state Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee — and a former candidate for governor — Grossman would seem to be in a position to offer some sage advice. But after Grossman’s wife, Barbara, publicly declared her support for Deval Patrick a few months back, Reilly may be less inclined to seek his political counsel. (Like many same-sex-marriage supporters, Barbara Grossman was nonplussed by Reilly’s ambivalent stance on the subject.) Solomont has no similar complicating factors, however. And given the success of Reilly’s fundraising operation — particularly compared with other facets of the campaign — he may be asked to assume heightened responsibility between now and September’s Democratic primary.

Ultimately, however, the collective importance of these individuals and groups pales in comparison with the influence exerted by three old friends of Reilly’s: former Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce head Fletcher “Flash” Wiley, former Suffolk County DA Ralph Martin, and — most notably — former US attorney Wayne Budd, who is Reilly’s other campaign co-chair.

It’s clear that this triumvirate was largely responsible for St. Fleur’s selection. Sinclair et al. apparently supported wealthy Democratic activist Chris Gabrieli’s selection as Reilly’s running mate, and they had leaked word to the Globe — via reporter Frank Phillips, who’s reportedly close with Meehan and Keyser — that an announcement was imminent. But then, at the last minute, Budd et al. urged Reilly to reconsider. (Boston mayor Tom Menino, a longstanding Reilly ally who delivered his delegates to the AG at February’s caucuses, has publicly contested reports that he was instrumental in St. Fleur’s selection. Given Menino’s vociferousness on this point, it’s a fair bet that relations between the mayor and the AG are not overly cordial at the moment.)

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  Topics: Talking Politics , Deval Patrick, Marie St. Fleur, Marie St. Fleur,  More more >
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