BOSTON (AP) — As they geared up for their congressional re-election campaigns last year, U.S. Reps. Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch sought out contributions from their friends, neighbors and fellow Massachusetts residents.
But Markey and Lynch, who are vying for the Democratic nomination in the special election for the U.S. Senate, also relied heavily on the deep pockets of political action committees to help fill their campaign coffers.
PACs contributed $434,228 to Markey, or about 47 percent of what the longtime congressman collected during the 2011-2012 election cycle, according to an Associated Press review of campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
While Lynch collected only slightly more from PACs, $464,175, the contributions accounted for a far greater portion of his fundraising total — about 65 percent — in part because Lynch raised less in individual contributions than Markey.
Of the state's current nine-member U.S. House delegation, only Democratic Rep. Richard Neal collected a higher portion of his total contributions from PACs, about 75 percent.
While Markey and Lynch may have collected a similar amount from PACs, the groups supporting them differ.
Lynch, who was an ironworker for 18 years before entering politics, enjoyed strong backing from unions. A dozen labor-related PACS contributed at least $10,000 each to his campaign account during the cycle.
Among Lynch's top PAC donors were the American Postal Workers Union, the International Longshoremen's Association, the Sheet Metal Workers International, the Utility Workers Union of America, the Machinists Non-Partisan Political League and the Ironworkers Political Action League.
As a member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Financial Services, Lynch also enjoyed the support of financial and insurance industry heavyweights including the John Hancock Financial Services Federal PAC, the Massachusetts Bankers PAC, the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. PAC, and the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company PAC.
"Steve Lynch is proud of his strong support from working men and women who contribute through their union PACs," Lynch campaign spokesman Scott Ferson said. "This is one way to compete against big corporate contributions and this will be a big factor in competing in this race."
Markey, a ranking Democratic member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee that oversees the cable television, wireless and broadcast industries, received strong PAC support from the telecommunications industry.
Among the PACs contributing to Markey's campaign during the past two years were the Time Warner Cable Inc. Federal PAC, the Comcast Corp. PAC, the National Cable And Telecommunications Association, the Sprint Nextel Corporation PAC, the Viacom International Inc. PAC, the National Association of Broadcasters PAC and the Commissioner of Major League Baseball PAC.
Markey, who also serves on the serves on the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Energy and Commerce, received support from energy and environmental groups like the American Wind Energy PAC, the Solar Energy Industries Association PAC and the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund.
Markey campaign spokeswoman Giselle Barry said Markey "is grateful to have support from grassroots activists and thousands of individuals across Massachusetts who support his record of standing up for middle class families and fighting the special interests."
There was also some fundraising overlap between Markey and Lynch, with some PACs backing both candidates.
Markey received the support of some of the same unions which backed Lynch, including the machinists and ironworkers PACs. And both Markey and Lynch received support from PACs representing defense contractors Raytheon, Co. and Lockheed Martin and the technology and manufacturing company Honeywell International Inc.
Although they both raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past election cycle, neither Markey nor Lynch faced serious competition. Each had a Republican challenger last year, but both were easily re-elected. Neither faced a primary challenge.
The primary in the special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by John Kerry's resignation to become secretary of state is April 30. The election is June 25.
Even as they look to raise the millions needed to mount a statewide campaign, Markey and Lynch have already taken steps they say will help limit the influence of outside groups on the election.
Both Democrats have signed their version of the so-called "people's pledge" adopted by former Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren during last year's Senate campaign.
That pledge successfully kept outside groups from launching television, radio and internet ads during the campaign, although groups still poured millions into mailings, phone banks and get-out-the-vote drives.
The deal agreed to by Markey and Lynch also applies to campaign mailings.
Even with the agreement, last year's Senate contest smashed state records for the most expensive Massachusetts election ever.
On the Republican side, the field is still sorting itself out following Brown's decision not to run a third time for Senate.
The only announced GOP candidates are Daniel Winslow, a state representative from Norfolk and Gabriel Gomez, a businessman and former Navy Seal who lives in Cohasset. Former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan and former GOP congressional candidate Sean Bielat are also eyeing the seat.