Republicans have painted a bull’s-eye on U.S. Rep. William Delahunt. At least five people are considering a run for the 10th Congressional District seat he has held since 1997.

Republicans have painted a bull’s-eye on U.S. Rep. William Delahunt.


At least five people are considering a run for the 10th Congressional District seat he has held since 1997.


The growing field includes three former and current state office-holders – former State Treasurer Joe Malone of Scituate; state Sen. Robert Hedlund, R-Weymouth; and state Rep. Jeff Perry, R-Sandwich – as well as two political newcomers, Don Hussey of Hingham and Ray Kasperowicz of Cohasset.


Hussey and Kasperowicz are the only two who are definite candidates so far.


Malone told The Patriot Ledger on Monday that he is “moving very quickly toward announcing.” When asked if he’ll run, Hedlund last week said: “Maybe.”


Vincent Cogliano, chairman of the Plymouth County Republican Committee, said Hedlund and Malone are getting strong pushes to jump into the race – and to do it soon.


“I’ve been getting a nonstop flood of e-mails, several hundred now, and fundraising commitments in the range of half a million,” Malone said.


Malone ran, unsuccessfully, against Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1994 and for governor against Paul Cellucci in 1998. He was elected treasurer in 1990 but was criticized for lax oversight after three treasury employees pulled off a scheme to steal nearly $10 million in state money on his watch.


Malone dissolved his campaign account in 2007. Hedlund had a little less than $173,000 in his war chest at the end of the year and Delahunt reported having nearly $630,000 to spend as of Sept. 30, according to campaign finance reports.


Hedlund, formerly a small-business owner, has served in the state Senate for nearly 20 years.


Hussey and Kasperowicz said Monday they had the ball rolling on their campaigns months before Scott Brown’s victory last week or his surge in the polls.


That means more candidates may still come forward.


Cogliano said he is expecting a huge turnout Saturday at a breakfast meeting held for any 2010 candidates to introduce themselves. “We’re told a surprising number of people are going to show up,” he said.


Cogliano said two factors are fueling interest in Delahunt’s seat: Brown’s overwhelming voter support in the district and speculation that the congressman won’t seek re-election.


“Many are assuming this seat is going to be open,” he said. “That’s why they’re jumping in.”


Delahunt’s office did not return a call for comment Monday.


Phil Johnston downplayed suggestions that Delahunt won’t run again.


“I fully expect him to run for re-election. I’m going to be there to do everything I can to help him,” said Phil Johnston of Marshfield.


Delahunt was unopposed in 2008 and hasn’t faced a serious challenge since he first won the Democratic primary by edging out Johnston in 1996. That race came down to a statewide recount of the ballots after Delahunt claimed that hundreds of votes for him were mistakenly counted as blank ballots. A Superior Court judge ultimately threw out Johnston’s 175-vote win, and awarded a 266-vote margin to Delahunt. Following that election, the punch card voting system was banned in Massachusetts.


The 10th Congressional District spans nearly all of the South Shore, covering Abington, Carver, Duxbury, Hanover, Hanson, Hingham, Hull, Kingston, Marshfield, Norwell, Pembroke, Plymouth, Rockland, Scituate, Cohasset, Quincy and Weymouth. It also and includes Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.


Nancy Reardon may be reached at nreardon@ledger.com.