As high-profile Republicans continue to eschew the race to fill Secretary of State John Kerry's Senate seat in a June special election, a former Nantucket resident known for his colorful campaign style has leaped into the field.
"The Republican Party, not only in Massachusetts but also in the U.S., has to redirect its vision," Douglas Bennett said Monday.
Bennett, 37, who previously served as a selectman and county commissioner on Nantucket, ran unsuccessfully for the Cape and Islands state Senate seat in 2006.
He now lives in Dorchester, where he works as a rental agent and still exudes the enthusiasm for the campaign trail that made his face well-known to drivers circling Cape rotaries during his campaign for the Massachusetts Senate.
The perennial candidate lost the 2006 Republican primary to now-suspended lawyer Ricardo Barros, who went on to lose the general election to incumbent Democrat Robert O'Leary.
Bennett moved to Boston in 2007. During two campaigns for an open seat on the Boston City Council in 2009 and 2011, Bennett stood out again for his energetic campaigning, reportedly knocking on thousands of doors in the failed efforts.
With Scott Brown's announcement last week that he would not run, Bennett decided to give elective office another shot.
First he needs 10,000 signatures by Feb. 27 to get on the ballot.
"It's a sprint to get the signatures," Bennett said. "If we don't get the signatures we're just not candidates."
Bennett will likely be joined shortly by other candidates looking for signatures.
State Rep. Daniel Winslow, R-Norfolk, and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez of Cohasset have expressed interest in a possible run for the seat, said Massachusetts Republican Party spokesman Tim Buckley.
"We'll probably be seeing a decision from those folks soon," Buckley said.
Among the GOP heavy hitters who have said they won't run are former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld and former Republican state Senate leader Richard Tisei.
Businessman Jack E. Robinson announced Monday that he would run for the seat as an independent.
Democratic U.S. Reps. Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch are running for their party's nomination.
"I'm just not focusing on them," Bennett said about other possible candidates.
Bennett is a member of the Massachusetts branch of the Liberty Movement, a Libertarian group based primarily in Worcester.
He says he is running on three issues that dovetail with that group's platform: ending the U.S. involvement in overseas wars, auditing the Federal Reserve and protecting civil liberties.
"It's not only the money that we're wasting, it's all the young Americans," he said about casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan and other military operations.
It would be better to bring the troops home and focus on domestic issues such as reducing the country's massive debt, Bennett said.
In addition, laws such as the Patriot Act should be repealed to ensure the protection of civil liberties, he said.
"I'm pro-Constitution," he said about his belief in a strict adherence to the country's founding document.
Bennett will be meeting supporters for a signature drive at 11 a.m. Saturday outside Braintree Town Hall, he said.
"If we get the signatures it's going to be because we stood out in the rain, the snow, the raw weather," Bennett said. "That's my campaign style."
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