Juliette Kayyem Plans a Sit-Down at ‘Ashmonticello’

It's the first appearance of her much-speculated run for Governor.

You might know that Boston Globe columnist/Harvard Kennedy School lecturer/homeland security expert-for-hire Juliette Kayyem has been contemplating running for governor of Massachusetts. If you’re a bit of a political junkie, you might have read the speculation in the Globe and Politico. If you’re a Massachusetts Democratic activist, you might have seen her glad-handing at Ed Markey’s election-night party and the state party convention.

She is now taking it to the next level: a sit-down at “Ashmonticello,” the home of Dorchester Democratic super-activist Joyce Linehan.

Announced last night by Linehan on Facebook, the open event is scheduled for August 18. It is Kayyem’s first public appearance to discuss her potential candidacy.

“I thought this would be a great opportunity to hear from them, and see how I do with them,” Kayyem said. “Part of my education process is meeting these people and seeing what they want and what they’re looking for.”

Currently on leave from the Globe to write a book (the draft of which she just delivered to Simon & Schuster), Kayyem is also not teaching this fall to focus, she says, on whether to launch a campaign. She has not yet formed a campaign committee or formally taken on any advisors or staff. “Given the calendar, I probably would need to make a decision by October,” she said.

Linehan notes a parallel with another exploratory candidate who stopped by Linehan’s house for one of these activist events—Elizabeth Warren.

“At the time she was a one-issue candidate—she was all about banking,” Linehan said. “Juliette, clearly she’s an expert in one important area of public work.” The question is whether Kayyem, like Warren, can convince activists that she has more to offer.

Kayyem’s pitch as a candidate—and, from the sound of it, the theme of the new book—would focus on the connection between her work on homeland security and addressing the broader idea of strengthening the homeland in terms of the economy, transportation, infrastructure, and so on. (This exact notion, albeit from a very different policy perspective, was also the theme of Mitt Romney’s book No Apology.)

She isn’t the only one vying for those activists’ attention, however. Gubernatorial candidates Don Berwick and Steve Grossman have already done Ashmonticello events, and Dan Wolf has one scheduled just a few days before Kayyem’s.