State Senator Michael J. Barrett '70 (D. Middlesex and Suffolk) announced yesterday that he is "very close" to beginning a formal campaign for the 1994 Democratic nomination for governor of Massachusetts.
This declaration, in the wake of Cambridge City Councillor Alice K. Wolf's surprise Tuesday announcement that she would not seek re-election to the council, has left political observers speculating that Wolf will run for Barrett's senate seat.
And given that current Gov. William F. Weld '66, a Republican, lives three blocks from Barrett in the same North Cambridge neighborhood as Wolf, the announcement makes Cambridge a hotbed of political activity, with local elected officials playing leapfrog in a way that is without recent precedent.
Barrett said his niece, Heather M. Leslie '96, will be running the Harvard wing of his campaign. In an interview yesterday, Barrett called for a return to grass-roots political activism and widespread volunteerism, and stressed the importance of Harvard students to his campaign.
Leslie said that although she has not devised a specific campaign strategy, her aim will be to increase awareness on community issues within the student body.
"Before we even begin to talk about Michael Barrett and what Michael Barrett can do as governor of the state, we have to make Harvard students aware of why they should care about what's going on in Mas-
Barrett, who is Cambridge's representative in the state house, said he has been considering running for governor for a while. "I've been thinking about it for six or seven months but the decision did not really fall into place for me until two weeks ago," he said. He said he finally decided to run because he finds Weld "out of touch."
Although Barrett's Fayerweather Street home is only three blocks away from Weld's, the senator said he and the governor live in two different worlds. "On my street, people are out of work. People have cancer. I see very hard working families struggling to put it together for themselves," Barrett said.
Barrett said of Weld, "He's a good man, but he's in the wrong job."
Wolf, who denied rumors that she has been offered a position with the National Organization for Women or with the Clinton Administration, said she does not know whether she will run for the state senate. "I will have it under consideration, but I have no plans at the moment," she said.
Barrett said he knows nothing about Wolf's plans "It is a coincidence that Alice should have decided not to run for city council. I don't know what's in her head," he said.
Wolf, likewise, said she had not known that Barrett was interested in running for governor. She said she thought he was interested in running for Congress. Wolf had said that if Rep. Joe Kennedy II ran for governor, she would run for Congress. Kennedy announced in February that he would not run for governor.
But longtime Cambridge politicos are not so easily convinced that Wolf has no immediate plans.
Former mayor Alfred E. Velluccr said that somebody has to replace Barrett on the senate. "Alice Wolf withdrew from the city council race. Maybe she is a candidate to the senate," he said.
Saundra M. Graham, a former Cambridge city councillor and state representative, said that if Barrett ran for governor, Wolf would definitely run for the senate. "I can bet my life on it. The only thing that was stopping her from running was Michael," Graham said.