BOSTON — Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, the Gloucester Republican who sparked a rush of encouragement from Cape Ann voters this week when he said he’s considering a run for the vacant U.S. Senate seat, said he would like those considering a run to gather to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each potential candidate in the GOP field.
Tarr, who said he expects to make a decision regarding his own potential U.S. Senate candidacy by Monday, broached the idea of a GOP hopefuls’ get-together with Republican Party officials on Wednesday to sound out candidates considering a run for the seat vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry; to date, those include State Rep. Daniel Winslow of Norfolk, who announced his candidacy Thursday afternoon, Cohasset businessman Gabriel Gomez and Governor’s Councilor Jennie Caissie.
GOP party officials said it was unlikely that such a meeting would happen in the coming days, due in part to the expected wekeend blizzard.
“While many potential candidates have been considering a run for the U.S. Senate, now is the time to make a decision and start gathering signatures to ensure they make the ballot,” said newly elected party chairwoman Kirsten Hughes in a statement responding to questions about the possible meeting.
Hughes said the party sent signature sheets to Republican State Committee members so that they could be prepared to begin collecting signatures as soon as a candidate officially declares.
“I anticipate our party will have a contested primary election, and I think that will prove beneficial in energizing our grassroots in preparation for the general election,” Hughes said.
Winslow, a Norfolk Republican, made it official on Thursday afternoon declaring himself to be a candidate for the U.S. Senate two days after he opened an exploratory committee and said he was “99 percent” sure he would run.
“As a native of Western Massachusetts, a hardworking middle class family, and as an experienced problem solver, I believe that the next two years will be our last, best opportunity to avoid the tipping point of a runaway deficit and crushing federal debt. I have a proven record of respect for Second Amendment constitutional freedoms. My experience as a fiscal conservative and problem solver is experience we need in Washington D.C. Our future depends on getting this right,” Winslow wrote in a letter to Republican voters and activists on Thursday.
Caissie said Wednesday she was dissatisfied by the crop of Republicans considering the race, and was “seriously considering” a campaign of her own. Gomez, a former Navy SEAL, has also been talking with state and national party leaders about mounting a campaign. With Democratic congressmen Edward Markey of Malden and Stephen Lynch of South Boston already formally declared for the open Senate seat, the GOP lineup became scrambled this week after former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and previous congressional challenger Richard Tisei — who made a strong run at incumbent John Tierney last fall — both declared they would not be candidates.
Tarr said on Wednesday that he was considering getting into the race, and that drew an outpouring of support from voters and officials on Cape Ann. Saying he was “gratified” by the show of support, Tarr also noted the obstacles he and any other candidate would face in a race that carries a April 30 primary and a June 26 special election — including the need to gather 10,000 confirmed and certified signatures by Feb. 28.
“I think that anyone who has an interest in this should meet, and we should meet and discuss the issues and I think we should do the best we can to try to understand where each person is coming from and how we can mount the best effort to put a good choice on the table,” Tarr told the State House News Service on Thursday. Tarr said he is not necessarily suggesting that the party should rally around one candidate and force everyone else to withdraw, but he thinks sitting down would help the party chart the best possible course to compete against better-funded Democrats who are already in the race.