In a statement issued Tuesday morning, Dan Winslow, a 54-year-old Massachusetts lawyer and State Representative with strong conservative credentials, announced that he is forming an "exploratory committee" that could precede a run for Secretary of State John Kerry's vacant Senate seat in a June special election. Winslow is the first Republican to seriously consider a run, even if he isn't a household name — his announcement follows statements from former Senator Scott Brown, businessman/Romney Tagg Romney, former Governor Bill Weld, and former Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey that they would not enter the race. Dan Winslow, it appears, is the GOP's great hope to come out of nowhere and steal a spot in the Senate, much like Brown did in 2010.
Winslow is most notable for serving as former Governor Mitt Romney's Chief Legal Counsel between 2002 and 2005, when Romney faced the challenge of implementing state-recognized gay marriage. Romney disagreed with gay marriage (at the time), so he dispatched Winslow to placate conservatives. Indeed, according to a 2011 profile published in Commonwealth Magazine, Winslow became Romney's point man to his conservative supporters, who wanted Romney to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples.
The moves Winslow made publicly, in Romney’s name, drew praise from gay advocates, and stinging criticism from the right. Winslow appeared at a state convention of justices of the peace, and told them they could not refuse to perform same-sex marriages. He also traveled the state, training municipal clerks on the administration of same-sex marriages.
In the same profile Winslow described himself as "socially tolerant and fiscally prudent" — which places him politically somewhere (but not substantially) to the right of Scott Brown, who backed away from challenging the Massachusetts law on gay marriage and voted against the GOP's 2011 budget for its impact on Medicare funding. And right now, with Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch firmly entrenched on the Democratic side, a legit conservative might be exactly what Massachusetts Republicans need to pull off an upset — even if he isn't exactly a superstar.
Winslow needs 10,000 signatures by February 28 (four weeks after Kerry was sworn in) to make it on the special-election ballot.