, Salem, MA

March 22, 2013

Keenan considering a run for higher office


---- — SALEM — State Rep. John Keenan said yesterday that he will weigh a number of options when his current term expires in 2014, including entering the private sector or running for higher office.

The two offices he is eyeing are Essex County district attorney or state attorney general, but Keenan stressed that he is a strong supporter of the two incumbents, District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett and Attorney General Martha Coakley, and would not challenge either of them.

Both have indicated that they plan to run for re-election next year.

“... The two positions for which I have both the passion and professional portfolio are district attorney and attorney general,” Keenan said in an email response to an inquiry by The Salem News.

“I have great respect for and support each of the incumbents 110 percent,” said Keenan, a former city solicitor and prosecutor.

“When they make their respective decisions about re-election later this year or early 2014, I want to be prepared to consider such opportunities. The daunting reality is that a county race costs upwards of a half-million dollars and statewide at least three to four times that.”

Keenan said he has a campaign war chest of $175,000 and has set a fundraising goal of $100,000 for next year.

“Obviously, I would not need that level of funding to run for representative, but 2014 may present new opportunities that would require a much higher level of funding,” he stated.

The five-term state representative said he has not ruled out a re-election bid, but feels he has accomplished most of his goals on Beacon Hill, which included a new state courthouse in Salem, a garage at the MBTA commuter rail station and university status for Salem State.

“When I first ran, (my wife) and I agreed that if the people of Salem would have me for a decade, we’d take a look at what’s next,” he said. “By the end of this term, I will have been in public service for two decades. At that time, I will also be almost 50 and approaching the back nine of my professional career. All options will be on the table, including the private sector.”

Currently, Keenan works part time for a Salem law firm, Tinti, Quinn, Grover & Frey.

Keenan’s term as state representative expires in 2014. As chairman of the House Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, he has been a key player in the redevelopment plans for the Salem Harbor Station power plant.

“Right now, I am focused on the job at hand, working with Mayor (Kim) Driscoll and Sen. (Joan) Lovely to build the new garage and assure the redevelopment of the Salem waterfront — including the Footprint Power project. Proper redevelopment of the waterfront presents the most important project this century, if not in Salem’s entire history.”

Keenan said he expects next year to be a time of decision.

“2014 election decisions are months away,” he said. “We’ll be prepared to address that when the time comes.”

Tom Dalton can be reached at