| BOSTON, March 22
BOSTON, March 22 Both Democratic contenders in
Massachusetts' April U.S. Senate primary are pushing back
against a former hedge fund manager turned environmental
activist who is trying to make the proposed Keystone XL pipeline
an issue in the race.
While the pipeline, which would carry crude from Canada's
tar sands to Texas refineries, is not due to come anywhere near
the New England state, California billionaire Tom Steyer is
threatening a campaign to make it a wedge issue ahead of the
April 30 primary.
Steyer, who last year stepped down from the Farrallon
Capital Management hedge fund he founded, has threatened to
campaign against one of the contenders for the seat, U.S.
Representative Stephen Lynch, if he does not drop his support
for the $5.3 billion pipeline.
Both Lynch and his rival and fellow Congressman Edward
Markey, who is leading in early polls, pushed back against
Steyer, saying that his plans would run afoul of a "People's
Pledge" the two agreed to in an effort to keep outside money out
of the campaign.
Lynch, a former ironworker, has dismissed Steyer's threat.
"I think most Americans are tired of being shoved," Lynch, a
former ironworker, wrote in an op-ed published in the Boston
Globe on Friday.
Markey on Friday called on Steyer to stay out of the race.
"These kinds of tactics have no place in our political
discourse and should be repudiated," Markey said. "Steyer should
immediately withdraw his threats and ultimatum, and stay out of
this Senate race."
Under the "People's Pledge," both Markey and Lynch agreed to
donate money from their campaign funds to a charity of his
rival's choice if an outsider buys attack ads against a rival.
Steyer said through a spokesman that the pledge leaves room
for other campaign operations, such as phone banks, research and
"While we have great respect for Ed Markey and know he is a
real Democrat, the issue in this race is whether Steve Lynch is
running to be the Senator from Canada fighting for increasing
the wealth of a foreign oil company or a Senator from
Massachusetts who will stand for the common good of the
Commonwealth," said Chris Lehane, a spokesman for Steyer.
The campaign against Lynch was due to kick off on Friday
with trucks driving the streets with mounted video screens
showing ads questioning his stance on the pipeline, health care
reform and abortion.
Late last year, Steyer stepped down from the hedge fund he
founded, Farallon Capital, to focus his time on promoting
alternative energy sources and expand his efforts in Democratic
He went on to spend more than $30 million in California to
support a ballot initiative, Proposition 30, that closed a tax
loophole and funnels money to projects that create clean energy
The three Republican candidates in the Massachusetts race,
which will end with the June 25 special election to fill the
Senate seat that came available when John Kerry was named
secretary of state, did not sign the "People's Pledge."
The trio -- former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, state
Representative Daniel Winslow and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez
-- argued that as relative political newcomers, they do not have
the established campaign operations and political war chests
that their Democratic rivals have.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Leslie