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POLITICS: Campaigns

Martha Coakley: I'll agree to people's pledge in Massachusetts race

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Politics,Associated Press,Massachusetts,Campaign Finance,Campaigns

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Democratic candidates for governor appear poised to agree to a so-called people's pledge designed to limit outside campaign spending in next year's campaign.

Attorney General Martha Coakley said Wednesday she's looking forward to helping draft an agreement after fellow Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Treasurer Steven Grossman called on her to agree to a pledge.

Grossman said that he and the other Democratic candidates have already agreed in principle to sign a pledge.

Grossman is proposing a deal that requires that if an outside group spends money to support a candidate, the candidate who benefits will cut his or her own spending by the same amount and donate the money to The One Fund to benefit victims of the April 15 marathon bombing.

Grossman said the pledge will "prevent unrestrained, unaccountable outside money from hijacking this election."

Coakley said she her campaign will "work with the other Democratic candidates to finalize a people's pledge."

Charlie Baker is the sole Republican candidate. Baker's campaign said Wednesday that when the time comes "we expect that we'll sit down with the Democratic nominee to discuss the influence of outside money and how we might be able to limit its impact on the race."

Other Democrats already in the race include Newton pediatrician and former Obama administration health care official Don Berwick, former federal and state homeland security official Juliette Kayyem and former Wellesley selectman Joseph Avellone. State Sen. Dan Wolf's candidacy is on hold.

Avellone said he's proposed his own pledge that would go even further by banning contributions from Massachusetts-registered PACs, Massachusetts lobbyists and Massachusetts state employees so that they don't feel pressured to donate to keep their jobs.

"This pledge would be a break from the past and set a new course for the future of Massachusetts elections," Avellone said in a statement.

Berwick said he would support the chairman of the state Democratic party negotiating a pledge for all Democratic candidates for governor.

Grossman, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is the early leader in the money race with about $628,000 in his campaign account.

Coakley's campaign account reported a balance of under $275,000 in its most recent filing with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

The people's pledge refers to an agreement that Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren hammered out in their 2012 U.S. Senate campaign. The pledge was widely seen as dramatically tamping down the amount of outside ad spending on television, radio and internet ads.

Even with the limits, Warren and Brown raised about $80 million combined, making the contest by far the most expensive election in Massachusetts history.

In this year's special U.S. Senate election, Democrats Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch agreed to a similar pledge, which also included money spent on direct mail advertising, which was not covered by the Brown/Warren pledge. Markey's eventual Republican opponent, Gabriel Gomez, declined to sign the pledge.

Gov. Deval Patrick, who isn't running for re-election, said he likes the idea of discouraging outside spending.

"There's too much money in politics and there's too much of campaigning that is about chasing that money and there's too much use of that money in trying to form relationships with voters through 30-second ads in the last few weeks of the campaign rather than getting out and meeting people," he said.

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