Mass Fiscal Chair Weighing U.S. Senate Run in 2018

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STATE HOUSE – Republican Rick Green, the wealthy owner of a Pepperell-based auto parts company and founder of the conservative non-profit Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, may challenge U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren for re-election in 2018, according to two sources with knowledge of his thinking.

Green, who once came up two votes shy of becoming chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party, is “thinking about it,” according to a close associate, but feels no rush make a decision despite Warren sounding the starting gun last week when she formally declared her intention to seek a second term.

Warren, a Democrat, was widely expected to seek a second six-year term in 2018, but the timing of her announcement just after the new year dawned came as a surprise to some who expected her to bide her time as the incumbent before launching into a campaign.

Since the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Warren has been one of the loudest national critics of the incoming president and the administration he has been assembling since November. This weekend Warren plans to lead a rally at Faneuil Hall to protest Trump and the Republican Congress for their plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which the GOP blames for rising health care premiums.

Any Republican challenge to Warren could prove difficult, according to Republican consultants who note Warren’s popularity in a heavily Democratic state and her ability to raise vast amounts of money from liberal donors around the country.

As of October, Warren had more than $4.1 million in campaign cash on hand, according federal campaign finance records.

Green, while probably not well-known to the electorate, is no stranger to Massachusetts politics.

In 2012, he founded MassFiscal and quickly became a thorn in the side of legislative Democrats. His group emerged as a player in electoral politics at the state level, spending freely on mailers and advertisements that targeted the voting records of Democrats on issues like taxes and immigration.

Green and Michael Kane, the owner of 126 Self Storage in Ashland, have sued the state over its ban on corporations making donations to political candidates.

A Cornell University graduate where he played football and earned a degree in engineering, Green got his professional start as a “rocket scientist” working for a company that did business with NASA, according to a friend, but soon returned to school to get an advanced degree.

While earning his business degree from the University of Virginia, Green and his brother started 1A Auto Inc. in Pepperell. and had a dozen employees before he graduated. Selling auto parts online with free YouTube videos to help customers install the parts on their own, Green and his brother have grown the company that started in a garage into a business with over $150 million in annual revenue and more than 250 employees.

The company has temporarily moved to Westford while it renovates an old mill in Pepperell that will become its new headquarters.

The success of 1A Auto is part of the reason why Green may be in no rush to make a decision on the campaign.

According to an associate, Green feels that while other candidates might have to start fundraising soon to be able to build an organization to compete with Warren, he could self-finance a campaign to get it off the ground before turning to donors.

MassFiscal generally supports lower taxes and fewer regulations on business, the expansion of charter schools and welfare reform. The group’s website also says its opposes mandatory paid leave for workers, higher tax rates for the wealthy in Massachusetts and the Affordable Care Act (in particular the medical device tax).

Green was elected as a delegate to Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer, though his candidate of choice was Ohio Gov. John Kasich and not Trump. Green could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

In Ohio, Green told the Boston Globe: “I’m excited by the possibility and the opportunity of seeking some office in the near political future.”

One friend told the News Service that Green’s interest in challenging Warren is not the first time he has considered seeking public office, and though he is focused on the exploring a Senate run now he may consider a different office in the future should the opportunity present itself.

In 2013 Green lost out to MassGOP Chairwoman Kirsten Hughes, who was backed by then-U.S. Scott Brown, by two votes in his bid to become chairman of the party.

Green lives in the congressional district represented by U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas.

No other candidates have formally announced their intention to challenge Warren in 2018, but Republican are expecting there to be a primary. Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who now hosts a conservative online radio talk show, has publicly mulled a run.

— Written by Matt Murphy