Former State Rep. Bob Keeley, who’s lost 10 elections the past dozen years and former City Councilman Bob Halstead who received a scant 48 votes the last time he ran for the state legislature have submitted the paperwork to seek signatures in an effort to qualify for August primaries against two Democratic State House incumbents.
Perhaps there is actually some opportunistic method to the madness. If they petition successfully, both would end up on the line of State Senator Marilyn Moore who has qualified for a primary to face party-endorsed City Councilman Marcus Brown. Moore’s senate district includes the precincts in those State House regions.
Keeley’s trying to primary Jack Hennessy, the city’s longest-serving State House member while Halstead wants to face Steve Stafstrom who was first elected in a 2015 special election following Auden Grogins’ appointment to a state judgeship. Keeley finished a distant third in that race.
During that winter special election Stafstrom received 776 votes, Enrique Torres 720, Keeley 154, Halstead 48, Hector Diaz 45.
Keeley was once relevant in city politics having served in the State House for more than 20 years until defeated by Grogins in a 2008 Democratic primary. Keeley was endorsed by the party.
In the past dozen years he’s been something of a gadfly losing primaries for state legislature, City Council and Democratic Town Committee. In his most recent run for City Council he didn’t even bother voting in the primary.
Halstead, a former city urban planner, supported Joe Ganim’s comeback for mayor in 2015 then soured on Ganim’s return when he wasn’t offered a city job.
Stafstom’s 129th District covers Black Rock and West Side while Hennessy’s 127th District encompasses the North End.
Keeley is the executive director of the Orcutt Boys & Girls Club on the East Side. He’s engaged in an on-going battle with city and state officials over funding for his non-profit no longer affiliated with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Both Keeley and Halstead need roughly 300 signatures from registered Democrats in the respective districts to qualify for a primary. Even if successful for ballot qualification they will be major underdogs without financial resources. It’s late in the game to raise money for the state’s Citizens Election Program of publicly funded races.
If Keeley and Halstead manage to get on Moore’s line these things cut both ways. It means Stafstrom and Hennessy will be out in the field working hard to turn out a vote, something that will benefit Brown who has a core group of pols who know how to churn out votes in the city as recently evidenced in the March Democratic Town Committee primary in which Brown’s slate of candidates easily defeated a slate backed by Moore.