By Christian M. Wade
---- — BOSTON - State Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, finished third among Democrats vying for an endorsement for treasurer at the party's state convention, but the veteran Andover lawmaker leads the money race.
Finegold had nearly $514,524 cash in his campaign account as of June 15, according to filings with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.
Former Brookline selectwoman Deborah Goldberg, a Democrat, had $104,000, according to the most recent filings, and Rep. Thomas Conroy, D-Wayland, had about $64,000.
Republican Mike Heffernan, who faces the winner of the three-way Democratic primary, had $89,734.
The state’s current treasurer, Democrat Steven Grossman, is running for governor.
At the Democratic convention in Worcester on June 14, Goldberg topped the balloting for the party's official endorsement with 39 percent of the vote, followed by Conroy with 34 percent. Finegold finished third with 27 percent, but it was still above the 15 percent required to put his name on the primary ballot.
Voters will ultimately decide the party's choice for treasurer, in the Sept. 9 primary election.
A recent poll suggests the race is wide open. A Suffolk University/Boston Herald survey of 800 likely voters from June 4 through 7 found about 74 percent who said they are undecided. Among the rest, 10.7 percent were going for Goldberg, 8.4 percent for Finegold and 4.4 percent for Conroy.
The treasurer’s job, which pays $127,916 a year, oversees about 100 employees and a budget of nearly $9.3 million, the state lottery as well as employee retirement, school construction, cash and borrowing programs. The treasurer also heads a board that manages state pension funds.
Unlike the governor's race, the campaign for treasurer is generally a low-key affair that doesn't garner much money or attention.
In 2010, Grossman collected $1.8 million in the race against Republican Karyn Polito, who collected about $1 million, according to the campaign finance office. All three candidates in the race raised $3.4 million.
Candidates for governor, by comparison, collected $15 million.
Finegold, a lawyer, was elected to the Senate's 2nd Essex and Middlesex district four years ago after serving 13 years as a state representative. He was re-elected to the Senate in 2012 with 65 percent of the vote. He also ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress in 2007, losing in a special election to Democrat Niki Tsongas.
In a campaign video, a montage of Democratic lawmakers and other supporters praise Finegold's work on election reform and other issues as a narrator waxes about his humble roots growing up in a Hyde Park housing complex.
“Nobody has given me anything,” Finegold, 43, said Monday. “I’ve worked hard and earned every dollar I’ve made and will protect taxpayer money in the same way as treasurer.”
Finegold said he wants to boost returns to the state’s pension system, if elected, and improve financial literacy among middle and high school students.
Goldberg, 59, is a Brookline native who served six years on the town's Board of Selectmen, including two stints as chairwoman. She ran for lieutenant governor in 2006 but lost in the Democratic primary to Tim Murray.
Goldberg said she wants to use the treasurer’s office to help bring about social change, including pushing businesses to hire more women and minorities and divesting fossil fuel investments from the state’s $57 billion pension fund.
“I’ve been a Democratic activist all my life,” she said. “I want to break down barriers for people who need it most.”
Conroy, 51, has been a legislator since 2007 and chairs the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. He ran for U.S. Senate in 2011 but dropped out after Elizabeth Warren entered the race. He has pledged to use state school funds to build classrooms for pre-kindergarten students, if elected.
"Education is the opportunity engine for families throughout the commonwealth, and the world for that matter," he said. "And we need to make sure that our children are getting access to the best possible education and in safe, modern and energy efficient schools.”
Heffernan, a financial advisor and high-tech entrepreneur from Wellesley, said he wants to increase local aid, improve schools and invest in communities. On the campaign, he has portrayed himself as a political outsider with real-world business experience.
"Massachusetts residents deserve a government focused on solutions by leaders with experience in the real world, not another Beacon Hill politician looking to advance a political career with sound bites,” Heffernan said in a campaign video.
Arlington activist Ian Jackson, a member of the Green-Rainbow party, is also running.
Regardless of who emerges from the primary, Heffernan faces an uphill battle. Democrats outnumber Republicans about 3-to-1 among registered voters, and the state has only elected one Republican to the treasurer’s office in the past 60 years.
Despite Finegold's fundraising advantage, his competitors point out that he has raised big money and still lost previous elections. He collected more than $700,000 for his 2007 congressional bid, according to the Federal Elections Commission, but finished fourth in the Democratic primary.
"Barry's lead in fundraising hasn't translated to support in the ballot box," Conroy said. "He's number one in fundraising but last on the ballot."
Running for Treasurer: How much they've raised
(Contributions to all candidates)
1990: $3.2 million (Winner - Joe Malone, Republican)
1994: $2.5 million (Winner - Joe Malone, Republican)
1998: $2.0 million (Winner - Shannon O'Brien, Democrat)
2002: $4.3 million (Winner - Timothy Cahill, Democrat)
2006: $1.3 million (Winner - Timothy Cahill, Democrat)
2010: $3.4 million (Winner - Steve Grossman, Democrat)
2014: $1.6 million
2014 Treasurer's Race - How much they've raised
(Contributions since Jan 1, 2013)
B. Finegold, Democrat: $845,212
D. Goldberg, Democrat: $344,817
T. Conroy, Democrat: $251,477
M. Heffernan, Republican: $169,598
I. Jackson, Green/Rainbow: $1,338
** Does not include in-kind contributions
Source: Office of Campaign and Political Finance
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts State House. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter: @cmwade1969