Abreu ramps up his money game
Here comes Ian Abreu.
Mayor Mitchell may be waiting by the phone, Councilor Morad may be checking her campaign account and Council President Lopes may be looking in the mirror and seeing a soon-to-be acting mayor.
But Councilor Abreu has been out raising money.
More than $5,000 in January and more than $7,000 in February so far. And Abreu himself says that by the time he completes his February filing, he’ll have listed another $10,000, bringing his campaign fund to a total of roughly $30,000.
The three-term councilor-at-large laughs when asked whether he needs that kind of money for a City Council race and acknowledges that no, he doesn’t.
Asked whether he’s preparing to run for mayor he says, “We don’t know what tomorrow brings, the landscapes change by the day.”
Abreu, a long-term development manager at the Chamber of Commerce, is a genial character and an easy interview. But he’s also a politician and knows the right things to say.
“The tremendous support I’ve been receiving the last couple of months has been truly humbling,” he says.
The state campaign finance report for New Bedford shows City Councilor Ian Abreu dominating for the months of January and February 2021. [ Screen shot from Office of Campaign and Political Finance ]
But why raise this kind of money all of a sudden unless you’re thinking of a mayoral run? By conventional wisdom it only takes $5,000 to $10,000 to run for council, if that.
Abreu is easily the most ubiquitous councilor, His chamber position leaves him plenty of time to be at events around the city. He works hard, is almost always available and has mastered the all-important constituent services game.
Abreu has made the licensing of legal marijuana operations in the city a main focus of his work on the council and is a reliable voice for economic growth. You won’t find him one of the councilors with heartburn about building a business park on the golf course or signing off on government grants to develop the downtown.
He’s also mastered the game of vote-trading on the council but he’s not always come out the winner. He may have a lesson to learn from Linda Morad and Joe Lopes on that one.
Abreu says he doesn’t have any inside information about whether Mayor Mitchell is set to join his former colleague, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, in the transportation department.
“All I know is what you know and most of New Bedford know,” he says. The mayor says he’s had discussions with the Biden folks but is not seeking a job.
Speaking of the transportation department, Mitchell let me know this week that he does have a driver’s license by way of qualifications.
So count Abreu in if there’s a mayor’s race this year. And you can probably count in at-large councilor Linda Morad, who has a little over $34,000 in her campaign account. Curiously, the councilor from Ward 6, Joe Lopes, has only about $3,400.
Ward councilors don’t run citywide so they don’t need to raise much money. But as council president, Lopes would become acting mayor if Mitchell leaves. In that office he’d have the ability to make news and project himself as mayoral caliber to the voters. That’s probably easily worth $30,000.
Who else might be getting ready? Well, former Councilor Steve Martins, who’s settled at the state Lottery office, has $37,000 on hand; former councilor and County Commissioner John Saunders has a little short of $11,000 and he certainly knows how to raise money.
The big local political guns, state Sen. Mark Montigny and state Rep. Tony Cabral, have roughly $839,000 and $149,000 respectively. It’s hard to imagine Montigny ever running for mayor but Cabral has done it before. Would he do it again? Maybe.
And then there’s former Mayor Scott Lang. Lang does not keep money in a campaign chest but he could raise money quickly. And his blessing would be worth a lot in any mayoral race if he didn’t want to get back in himself. Chalk him up as a maybe too.
But the only one who’s out there raising money so far is Ian Abreu. At the start of the year he only had about $8,500. But his quick jump out of the starting gate has now put him in a position to be competitive.
Outside of Mitchell, no local politician seems more involved in the everyday life of the city.
Ian Abreu may be someone to watch.
Ian Abreu’s city council biography on the city of New Bedford’s website reads like a campaign ad. [ Screen shot from City of New Bedford. ]