Setti Warren calls for ‘people’s pledge’ in 2018 race for governor

If he runs, of course.

03/25/2017  BOSTON, MA    Setti Warren (cq) spoke during the Boston City League Basketball 2017 All-Star games held at NU's Cabot Center in Boston.  (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)
Setti Warren spoke during the Boston City League Basketball 2017 All-Star games held at Northeastern University last month. –Aram Boghosian / The Boston Globe

There are now two Warrens in Massachusetts calling for a 2018 “people’s pledge.”

Newton Mayor Setti Warren said Tuesday he would seek an agreement among candidates to ban advertising from independent political groups in the looming 2018 gubernatorial race — if he runs.

The Democratic mayor — who is considering and reportedly fundraising for a campaign against Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker — echoed Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s call last week to bring back the so-called “people’s pledge,” which was first brokered in 2012 during her race against Republican incumbent Sen. Scott Brown.

“If the People’s Pledge was good enough for Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown, it should be good enough for people running for governor,” Setti Warren said in a statement Tuesday.

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Warren cited a study by the progressive advocacy group Common Cause that found the pledge “drastically reduced outside spending” in the 2012 Massachusetts race compared to other races at the time. The 2013 study also found that the agreement increased the influence of small-dollar donations and resulted in “significantly less negative advertising” (even if the 2012 campaign did become notably ugly).

Nevertheless, Warren said Tuesday that the pledge — which requires candidates who benefit from outside advertising to pay a penalty — would “keep anonymous millionaires and billionaires from rigging the 2018 elections in Massachusetts.”

“We know that the ground-breaking agreement brokered between Scott Brown and Sen. Warren in 2012 worked then and it will work now,” he said.

Warren said he would call for the pledge in both the gubernatorial Democratic primary and the general election. So far, Democrat Jay Gonzalez, a former budget aide for Gov. Deval Patrick, is the only person to officially announce their candidacy in the 2018 gubernatorial race.

In a statement Tuesday evening, Gonzalez decried the increase in outside spending since the 2010 Citizens United court decision and said he supports measures to “make government more accessible and responsive to all.”

“Once there are other declared candidates for Governor to talk to about the best way to limit dark money from influencing the Governor’s race, I intend to talk to them,” Gonzalez said.

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Asked about Warren’s calls for a people’s pledge, Massachusetts Republican Party spokesman Terry MacCormack reiterated Tuesday that neither Baker nor Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito had yet made any announcements regarding their intention to seek re-election.

“They remain focused on leading an accountable, efficient and responsive state government,” MacCormack said.

In 2012, Elizabeth Warren and Brown agreed that, if either benefited from outside advertising, said candidate would have to donate a penalty worth half the value of the ad to a charity of the other’s choosing. Brown twice agreed to pay a penalty after third-party groups ran ads in favor of his campaign.

During the 2014 gubernatorial race, Baker rebuffed calls from then-Attorney General Martha Coakley, his Democratic opponent, for a people’s pledge. Baker went on to receive more than $11 million in outside spending (mostly from the Republican Governors’ Association), compared to $6.9 million received by Coakley, en route to winning the election.

According to Tuesday’s filing with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, Warren has just over $58,024 in his campaign account. Last November, he announced he would not seek a third term as mayor of Newton.

Gonzalez has more than $116,864 on-hand for his gubernatorial bid, per his most recent filing Monday.

According to a campaign filing Monday, Baker has more than $5.2 million.