U.S. Rep. Ed Markey and U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch agreed to a “People’s Pledge” Wednesday to keep money spent by independent groups out of the Senate campaign to fill Secretary of State John Kerry’s former seat.
“Because the candidates agree that they do not approve of such independent expenditure advertisements and/or direct mail, and want those advertisements and/or direct mail to immediately cease and desist for the duration of the 2013 special election cycle,” the pledge states.
Conor Yunits, a spokesman for the Lynch campaign, said the agreement only pertains to the Democratic primary.
“If Lynch is the nominee or Markey is the nominee, they are only going to be bound by this if the Republican nominee signs the pledge,” he said. “If the Republican nominee doesn’t sign, then the pledge is not going to apply to the general election.”
Rep. Dan Winslow, of Norfolk, who is running for the Senate seat, announced Thursday he would not sign the pledge.
“I welcome any outside group to contribute positive bio or issue ads, mailings, social media and the like,” Winslow, a Republican, said in a press release Thursday. “I am running a different kind of campaign. I am not an entrenched Washington insider who has to sign a pledge in order to run a fair, clean, positive campaign.”
Winslow said in the release the agreement was hypocritical of Markey and Lynch.
“For congressmen Markey and Lynch to posture about outside money in politics when their coffers are already filled with money from outside Massachusetts just shows you how inauthentic this pledge really is,” he said in the release.
The “People’s Pledge” is modeled after an agreement by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Mass. Sen. Scott Brown during the 2012 senate race in Massachusetts.
If an advertisement from an outside group is placed on one of the protected media that bolsters or attacks a candidate, the pledge requires that the candidate donate 50 percent of the cost of the advertisement to a charity of the other candidate’s choice, according to the pledge.
Yunits said the ban includes spending on direct mail, which was not included in the pledge in 2012, and led to independent groups using the loophole in the agreement to spend millions on mail campaigns.
“The only thing [the pact] doesn’t cover is phone calls, but it covers advertisements, T.V., radio, newspapers, broadcast and it covers mail and online advertising as well,” he said.
Markey first called for an agreement Jan. 28 in a press release asking all candidates to take the pledge.
“I am challenging all of the candidates — Democrats and Republicans — in this special election for the U.S. Senate to join me in committing to the people’s pledge upon entering this race. If all the candidates agree, we can give the voters the kind of debate they deserve,” he said in the release. “I urge all candidates to join me in ensuring that Massachusetts once again will be the leader for the nation on this issue.”
Markey released a statement Wednesday that the all candidates running in the special election should be focused on the issues and not on outside groups attacking the candidates.
“Outside money has no place in the Massachusetts Senate race,” he said in the release. “This election should be focused on issues, not outside-group attack ads.”
Lynch also released a statement Wednesday, saying that the race should be determined by the debates and all political parties should join in the pledge.
“Outside interest groups have no place in Massachusetts elections,” he said in the release. “This race should be decided in debates and on the stump, not by third-party advertisements or special interest mailers.”
Some people said that the pledge would make the election less hostile, while still allowing voters to form their opinions and beliefs for the candidates
“I think it’s [the ban] a great idea, because it makes you concentrate more on the person rather than pointing out stuff that’s either factual or not even right,” said Jeremy Fraga, 24, a photographer from New Bedford.
Fraga said he would rather pay attention to a campaign without mudslinging and more about the issues.
“[An election with this agreement] would be a better way of voting, if we would understand more about the person and their views rather than just trying to knock the other person down,” he said.