Businessman Chris Gabrieli took another step yesterday toward running for governor, filing paperwork so his campaign committee can raise and spend money to seek the Democratic nomination.
Gabrieli also plans to put $50,000 of his own money in the account in the next day or two and is actively soliciting support from Democratic delegates in order to be considered by the party's convention in June, an aide said yesterday.
''We are aggressively collecting them now," Joe Ganley, Gabrieli's spokesman, said of the signatures. He said they are approaching the needed 500 in order to be considered by the convention for its endorsement.
As part of the signature-gathering effort, Gabrieli's brother John sent a letter to Democratic delegates earlier this month asking them to sign petitions and recounting a meeting that Gabrieli's supporters held with him recently.
''None of us left that meeting with any doubt that Chris would make a great governor, and we're convinced he wants the job," John Gabrieli wrote. ''He thinks Massachusetts needs a fresh start, and he thinks he can win. He also needs to be convinced that Democratic leaders like you want him to run."
Ganley said Gabrieli made a ''technical change" to his campaign committee that was filed yesterday with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. He changed the designation of the committee from one for lieutenant governor to one for governor.
Gabrieli, a wealthy venture capitalist, ran for lieutenant governor in 2002 and lost. Earlier this year, Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, Democratic candidate for governor, considered Gabrieli as his running mate, but changed his mind at the last minute. Since then, Gabrieli's supporters have urged him to run for the top job.
''He has not made up his mind," Ganley said of Gabrieli's possible run. ''But before you can make any expenditures, it has to be properly designated. It would be against the law if you made expenditures under the wrong documentation."
Ganley said Gabrieli has not set a deadline for when he will decide to run. However, some of his supporters have said he needs to announce his plans promptly in order to begin the process of winning over delegates at the June convention.
Candidates need 15 percent of the convention delegates' votes in order for their names to be placed on the Sept. 19 primary ballot. In addition to Reilly, former Clinton administration official Deval Patrick is seeking the Democratic nomination.
Gabrieli's aides are also contacting potential staffers and consultants in the event he decides to run. ''We anticipate in the coming weeks we'll have some expenses," Ganley said. He did not specify what those expenditures might be.