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Card leans toward run for Senate

By Jim O’Sullivan
State House News Service / September 10, 2009

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NEWTON - Republican Andrew H. Card Jr., who was a chief of staff under former president George W. Bush, said last night that he would probably run for the seat left vacant by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, prompting another prospective candidate, state Senator Scott Brown, to rule out a bid if Card entered.

Card, who served four terms as a state representative for Holbrook before taking a succession of jobs in Washington, told the News Service the chances were “much better than 50 percent that I will find a way to say yes.’’ He said he would probably make a decision this weekend, after observing the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

At a GOP State Committee meeting in a Newton hotel, Card and Brown surprised many Republican insiders, as Card showed increasing enthusiasm for the seat and Brown, a Wrentham Republican who on Tuesday had said he was “about 90 percent’’ sure he would run, backed off.

Card said he had “a phenomenal desire’’ to announce his campaign, but his wife Kathleene’s work as a Methodist minister with a small congregation in Virginia would play a potentially determinative factor in his decision. “I am not going to ask my wife to leave her church,’’ he told reporters.

Brown said he would not challenge Card, also a Republican, but will run if Card decides not to enter the race.

“I believe that Scott Brown or Andy Card would do a great job,’’ Card said. Card has been reaching out to Republican activists and GOP political figures in Massachusetts as he considers whether to enter the race. In addition to Card and Brown, another Republican considering entering the race is Robert E. Burr Jr., a Canton selectman

“I don’t think I would be here if I weren’t interested,’’ Card told the GOP members. “I’m interested.’’

And Brown voiced support for Card.

“If you want to talk about a person that can bring back the bacon to Massachusetts, it’s this guy right here,’’ Brown said, gesturing to Card. “I am going to encourage all of you to support Andy and encourage him to run.’’

Card said that if he does not run, Brown is the Republican in the best position to gain the signatures to get on the ballot.

Kennedy, whose death last month left the seat vacant, deserves to be in the “Senate Hall of Fame, but that’s yesterday,’’ Card said. “It’s no one person’s seat. . . . It doesn’t belong to a family. It doesn’t belong to a party.’’

Card acknowledged that running as a Republican in Massachusetts is difficult, but he downplayed the notion that Bush’s unpopularity in the state would hamper a potential bid.

“I didn’t agree with every decision he made,’’ Card said. “I respected how he made his decisions. I’m Andy Card. I’m not George W. Bush.’’

Card lives in Virginia, he said, but still considers Holbrook his home. “I love Massachusetts,’’ Card said. “I don’t think anybody who knows me thinks I’ve been passionate about any other state.’’

Globe correspondent Calvin Hennick contributed to this report.