Motion for Continuance in the Hampden County DA Race…
Four years ago at this time, Hampden County District Attorney William Bennet had already announced that his fifth term would be his last. In the very Republican story heralding the end of the Bennett era, a few names including an assistant district attorney were mentioned.
With Bennett’s successor, District Attorney Mark Mastroianni, nominated by President Obama for the Springfield seat in Massachusetts Federal District Court, the race to leader Hampden County’s “largest law firm” remains a decidedly low-key affair.
There are candidates, but as has been mentioned, Mastroianni has yet to be confirmed by the United States Senate nor has he said he will not be a candidate for reelection regardless of that outcome. A spokeswoman for the Senate Judiciary Committee told WMassP&I the date of Mastroianni’s confirmation hearing before the committee would be scheduled “fairly soon.”
Barring some surprise at that hearing, Mastroianni will likely sail through a committee vote and then only await Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s placement of the nomination before the Senate. A filibuster cannot kill the D.A.’s nomination or Obama’s other appointees as it once could. Until that final vote, however, the D.A.’s race may remain in stasis.
It is hardly too late for candidates to jump into the race. Many, including most notably Stephen Buoniconti, did not change/form their campaigns until late March or April in 2010. However, the District Attorney’s race will likely be the highest profile race in Hampden County requiring thousands of dollar for television and mailings. It can never be too soon to begin raising money.
Shawn Allyn, a one-time Holyoke Assistant City Solicitor and current Feeding Hills resident with a practice in the Paper City, formed his committee late last year filing as a Democrat. To date, he is the only candidate known to begin raising money ($5500+) and, having cashed those donors’ checks in 2013, he can go back to those same donors and ask them to give more if they maxed out last year.
WMassP&I obtained a sample of his campaign logo.
Allyn declined last year to formally declare his candidacy for district attorney, preferring to remain in the “exploratory” stage and wait until Mastroianni is confirmed. He maintains that position. However, the Holyoke-based attorney has been raising his profile in public including appearing at some of the Valley’s premier political events like Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse’s inaugural ball and Wednesday’s gubernatorial forum in Northampton. A number of meet and greets have been scheduled throughout the county.
There is, technically, one candidate who has declared, but gone almost entirely unnoticed. Hal Etkin, a former Springfield assistant city solicitor, assistant district attorney and former attorney for the Southwick Police Department, has a website registered earlier this month for a campaign for D.A. The extensive, if not particularly flashy website, includes Etkin’s background, ostensible endorsements and an action plan.
Also included was a long, undated press release promising regular updates starting this Monday, February 3. However, critically, Etkin has yet to file anything with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Filing with the state agency becomes necessary when a state, county or certain municipal candidates either spends or raises money for their campaigns.
Fresh rumors surfaced on Facebook this week that Springfield Licensing Director Alesia Days may run for district attorney as well. According to Days’s Linked In profile, she has held her current job since 2010. Save for a brief stint at MassMutual, Days’s profile only lists legal employment with the city and, since last fall, as an adjunct professor at Bay Path.
There is still plenty of time for ambitious attorneys to enter the D.A.’s race in the county home to the commonwealth’s third biggest city and second busiest courthouse. Those floodgates may yet open once Mastroianni dons his judge’s robe at the State Street Federal Courthouse.
The races to replace Gale Candaras or to snatch Don Humason’s Senate seat could ultimately be more consequential reverberating into Boston, but the constituency in each of those races is smaller than Hampden County writ large. That and the fact that people understand the D.A.’s office ensure the race will get attention. For now the campaign continues under the radar, but it is very much alive. Of course one critical unanswered question is whether future aspirants will seek to leverage political influence or a resume in their campaigns.