Former Obama aide to run for Mass. state Senate

A Massachusetts native who worked in the Obama White House said Tuesday he would enter a crowded Democratic primary for an open state Senate seat in Western Massachusetts.

Eric Lesser, a Longmeadow native who worked as special assistant to top Obama adviser David Axelrod, said in a press release that he wanted to build high-speed rail links to Boston and help the region’s manufacturing industry recover.

And he included a note that sounded a little bit like his old boss, vowing, “We can fight back against cynicism and change our politics, too.”

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Lesser, a Harvard graduate who worked for US Representative Richard Neal and the late Edward M. Kennedy while in high school, started working for Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign by toting baggage. When Obama won, Lesser went to work as Axelrod’s assistant, then worked as director of strategic planning for the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Despite Lesser’s Washington credentials, he is wading into a field of Democrats whose local ties don’t require re-establishment.

The seat is currently held by Gale Candaras, who is stepping down to run for Hampden County register of probate.

The Republican newspaper reported that the primary already includes Ludlow School Committee member James “Chip” Harrington; Aaron Saunders, Candaras’s former chief of staff; Springfield city councilor Timothy Allen; and Tom Lachiusa, a counselor at the Hampden County Correctional Center.

Lesser’s press release included an endorsement from state Representative Brian Ashe, who represents Longmeadow.