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Bay State Democrats Search for New Party Leader | Shop Talk

With a flurry of races ahead, Massachusetts Democrats are in the process of electing a new party chairman. But the state party’s unique bylaws mean the lucky new leader might have an extra roadblock on the way.

Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh announced in July that he would step down from his position this fall to join Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick’s political arm, Together PAC. So far, there is no obvious front-runner in the race to replace him.

“I know there are some folks talking about it,” Walsh said in a Monday phone interview with CQ Roll Call. “Our top-of-the-ticket elected officials will have some say.”

Only state party committee members are eligible to run for chairman. As a result, in theory, two of the more often-mentioned contenders, state Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez and attorney Warren Tolman, are disqualified from pursuing the top job. Another potential candidate for chairman, former Patrick hired hand David O’Brien, is already on the state committee.

But the state party’s treasurer, a member of the state committee, is stepping down as well. The vacancy will allow an outsider to run for treasurer in September and join the party’s official leadership ranks.

The short-timer could win the treasurer’s spot, then run for chairman on Oct. 17. The rule also means candidates must decide quickly whether to pursue the chairmanship.

Sanchez floated his name as a contender last week to The Boston Globe. Tolman was not immediately available for comment; local Democrats named few others who might be interested.

Walsh declined to comment on the field but projected that any interested candidate, especially those not already on the committee, have about a two-week window to enter the race.

Walsh’s to-be-determined successor will have a busy cycle, as the next couple of years will feature major races. This fall there’s a race for mayor in Boston, as well as a special election to replace Democratic Sen. Edward J. Markey.

Next year, voters will pick Patrick’s successor and decide whether Markey gets a full term, plus Democratic Rep. John F. Tierney faces a tough re-election fight. In fact, the state’s ongoing political churn has some Democrats concerned about the state party’s infrastructure.

“There seems to be a pretty heavy outflow of people at the party to go work on the races,” a Democratic consultant said.

Another Messenger for AKPD

AKPD Message and Media announced Monday that Mike Donilon, a former senior adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., joined the Democratic firm as a partner in its Washington, D.C., office.

The firm also announced Isaac Baker’s promotion to partner to the Washington, D.C., office, and the upping of Sarah Hegeman as vice president of production in the firm’s Chicago office. Jon Fromowitz has also joined AKPD as a senior strategist in the New York office.

Planet Mercury

Stefan Friedman will move to the Los Angeles office of Mercury Public Affairs. A former New York Post reporter, Friedman leaves his post as a managing director at SKDKnickerbocker.

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