Bain partner will run for Kennedy Senate seat

Fifteen years after Bain founder Mitt Romney unsuccessfully tried to unseat Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy, Stephen Pagliuca will run for the same seat.

Stephen Pagliuca, a senior partner at Boston private equity giant Bain Capital, will take a leave of absence from the firm to launch an impromptu run for the US Senate, he announced today.

“It is time for me to give back to this country and this Commonwealth” of Massachusetts, Pagliuca said today in Boston's TD North Garden arena.

Pagliuca has never held public office before. He joined Bain in 1989 from consulting firm Bain & Co.

Until very recently, Bain had communicated internally to its employees only that Pagliuca was considering launching an election campaign following the death of Ted Kennedy, the veteran Democratic Massachusetts senator and brother to the former US president.

A statement today from Bain Capital today read: “Steve Pagliuca informed us today of his personal decision to seek the open seat in the US Senate representing Massachusetts. He has taken a leave of absence from Bain Capital. We are pleased that one of our partners would like to dedicate a portion of his career to public service, and we wish Steve well in his campaign.”

Pagliuca is well known within private equity as the most outspoken visible of the Bain senior partners, although the firm is structured with overlapping committees and no single partner leads. A recent poll revealed that he is largely unknown in Massachusetts, with 72 percent of respondents not knowing who he is. He may be better known as the co-owner of the Boston Celtics, the professional baskeball team, than as a senior figure in one of the world's largest private investment firms.

The new Massachusetts Senator will be selected by voters on 19 January, but the hotly contested Democratic primary will be held 8 December – less than three months away. Pagliuca will be running as a Democrat, and describes himself as a progressive, pro-business expert on heathcare and the economy.

In the Democratic field, Pagliuca will be competing against the far better-known Martha Coakley, currently the state Attorney General, and Michael Capuano, a member of the US House of Representatives.

Should he win the Democratic primary, Pagliuca will likely face Scott Brown, a Massachusetts state senator.
In addition to a quick wit and deep knowledge of economic and social issues, Pagliuca has a key advantage in this short race that the other candidates do not enjoy – tremendous wealth.

If Pagliuca loses he will return to Bain Capital, according to a source. During the campaign he will relinquish all of his duties at the firm, including board seats.

He reportedly has already selected a team of campaign advisors. 

Pagliuca's run comes 15 years after another Bain Capital man – founder Mitt Romney – ran against Ted Kennedy during a particularly vulnerable period in the senator’s career. Romney lost with 41 percent of the vote. But he later went on to become governor of Massachusetts and a Republican candidate for the US presidency.

Romney lost in part because Kennedy was successful at portraying him as a corporate raider who killed jobs in search of profit.

Today, a reader post to an article on the Boston Herald website about Pagliuca’s run read:  “Pagliuca should make amends for the carnage he brought to many companies and thousands of people laid off. The leverage buy out business that Bain is in is dirty and nasty.”