Gardner museum security chief to run for Mass. secretary of state

Anthony Amore, the security chief at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and a central figure in the institution’s search for its stolen artwork, is priming a campaign to become Massachusetts secretary of state.

Amore, 51, who announced his campaign on Tuesday, is the first Republican contender in the race that already features a Democratic primary between longtime incumbent Secretary William F. Galvin and Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim, viewed by some as perhaps Galvin’s most high-profile challenge in his two-plus decades in office.

Amore, a Swampscott resident, said last year that he intended to challenge state Representative Lori A. Ehrlich, a Marblehead Democrat, as his first foray into politics. But in a Boston Globe interview this week, he said that shifted in recent months after conversations with party officials, calling the statewide race a “first-in-a-generation” opportunity.

Amore framed his pitch as bringing “fresh leadership” to the office, echoing an argument Zakim has used in his campaign.

“I think that the secretary of state has a primary campaign where he’s going to have to fight. And at the same time, his opponent is a career politician. That’s not something that I am,” Amore said.

“I think I’d bring to this race the same sort of thing Charlie Baker brings to the governor’s office,” he said. “I think I could appeal to the same side of voters.”

Amore’s pivot to the race marks the state Republican party’s latest attempt to fill out its ticket under Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.

State Representative Keiko Orrall, one of the party’s national committee members, is challenging state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, while two Cape Cod Republicans — Dan Shores and James “Jay” McMahon — are vying in a primary to face Attorney General Maura Healey. A Republican challenger has yet to emerge to run against state Auditor Suzanne Bump.

Amore has headed security at the Gardner since 2005 — a stretch that has plunged him into the public spotlight on several occasions. The museum and law enforcement have made various appeals for help cracking the infamous 1990 robbery, when thieves disguised as police officers talked their way into the museum, tied up two guards, and stole 13 pieces, including three works by Rembrandt.

Before Gardner, Amore worked at the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, primarily on security at Logan Airport in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Amore said he plans to continue working at the Gardner during his campaign.