MARLBORO — It’s been a full three weeks since the last time a candidate entered the 3rd Congressional District race, and if you thought it was safe to stop counting, think again.
Keith St. John, a Marlboro resident who owns an online sock company, has filed paperwork to run for U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas’s seat, becoming the 13th Democrat vying to do so.
St. John, 32, told The Sun he had been planning to challenge Tsongas in the Democratic primary before she announced in August that she would not seek re-election in 2018. He has never held elected office before, but said he hopes to bring a fresh perspective.
“I’m a firm believer if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself,” St. John said. “I think I have new ideas and a new way of trying to do things.”
St. John grew up in New Hampshire and has lived in Marlboro since 2013 with his wife, Christine. He owns a website, Ogbo, that sells socks as a division of a Portuguese textile company.
St. John holds an economics degree from UMass Boston and a master’s degree in finance from Bentley University, and said that background would give him economic “expertise” that he sees as lacking in Congress.
The self-described progressive said he hopes to use his background to identify “externalities to benefit people” and pointed to use of hemp, a crop whose different parts can be used for textiles, biofuel and animal food, as an example of the kind of thinking he hopes to employ.
“I feel there’s an awful lot of lawyers in Washington, which is great for writing bills,” he said. “But especially with the tax bill that’s coming out that they’re voting on (Tuesday), there doesn’t seem to be a lot of business or finance or economic growth expertise in Washington, except for lobbyists.”
Although his candidacy only became official with paperwork filed last week, St. John said he planned to challenge Tsongas before she announced her retirement. He told The Sun he was “disappointed in the leadership” Tsongas offered.
“I felt like she wasn’t representing the Third District so much as she was representing the (Democratic National Committee),” he said. “As much as the DNC is a powerful force and is beneficial for areas such as Massachusetts, I don’t think she was offering the sort of leadership that was required of the Massachusetts 3rd.”
It is unlikely that every candidate will remain in the race until the primary next September, but if they do, it would be the most crowded primary field for a federal election in modern Massachusetts history.
In a field of 13 candidates, any path to victory is likely narrow, especially for a first-time candidate. But St. John said he sees his status as a newcomer as a benefit.
“I don’t have the connections or knowledge of some of the people in the race, but I think because I don’t have those connections, I’m not used to dealing with lobbyists, my ideas will be slightly more original and not sound like everyone else,” St. John said. “I think the originality will help me stand.”
Tsongas announced this summer that she will not seek re-election in 2018.
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