By Michael Norton and Matt Murphy
State House News Service
---- — BOSTON - Despite a lack of contested races that is likely to drive down turnout, broad swaths of Massachusetts today will feature contested primaries for Congressional and legislative seats up for grabs this year.
According to Secretary of State Galvin, there are nearly 4.2 million registered voters for the primary of which 52.6 percent are not enrolled in a party, 35.56 are Democrats and 11.39 percent are Republicans. Unenrolled voters can vote in any party primary and remain unenrolled going into the general election while voters registered in a political party may only vote in that party’s primary.
The voting today begins at 7 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m., when the contours of the Nov. 6 ballot will become clearer. Turnout in November is expected to jump in large part due to the draw of the presidential race between President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney and a tight contest between U.S Sen. Scott Brown and Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat.
Republicans are waging contested primaries in five of the nine Congressional districts with Democrats competing in four of those districts. There are several interesting races to fill open seats in the Legislature, but only four senators and 14 state representatives will face intra-party challenges during the primaries, making it extremely unlikely that a large batch of incumbents will be turned down by voters today.
For most Beacon Hill lawmakers, today will just be another day with their positions secure and some down in Charlotte soaking in the Democratic National Convention.
In the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, the winner of a contest between Republicans Sean Bielat of Norfolk, Elizabeth Childs of Brookline and David Steinhof of Fall River will likely face Joseph Kennedy III, who is expected to defeat Democrats Rachel Brown of Quincy and Herb Robinson of Newton and is looking to return the Kennedy family’s name to the Congressional roster.
Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter of Fall River is trying to leap to Congress and is up against Rep. William Keating of Bourne, a former district attorney, in the new 9th Congressional District Democratic primary. The winner faces either Adam Chaprales of Barnstable or Christopher Sheldon of Plymouth, who on Tuesday secured the endorsement from state Sen. Robert Hedlund of Weymouth.
Veteran Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield, running in a significantly expanded 1st Congressional District, faces former state Sen. Andrea Nuciforo of Pittsfield and Bill Shein of Alford in the Democratic primary. No Republicans are running in the western Massachusetts district so the coast is clear for Thursday’s winner. Similarly, no Republicans are competing in the 2nd Congressional District, where Rep. James McGovern of Worcester is being challenged by Democrat William Feegbeh, also of Worcester.
Richard Tisei of Wakefield, the former state Senate minority leader who Republicans hope can break into the state’s all-Democrat House ranks, has no opponent Thursday and is already engaged in a battle with Rep. John Tierney of Salem, who is trying to hold on to his seat.
Republicans are facing off against one another in three other Congressional districts Thursday. Jonathan Golnik of Carlisle and Thomas Weaver of Westford are running for the right to face Democrat Rep. Niki Tsongas of Lowell. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Malden) will face either Frank Addivinola Jr. of Boston, Jeffrey Semon of Lexington, or Tom Tierney of Framingham. And Rep. Stephen Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, will face either Joe Selvaggi of Boston or Matias Temperley of Quincy.
The resignation of Sen. Steven Baddour (D-Methuen) this year and the planned retirements of Sens. Frederick Berry (D-Salem) and Susan Fargo (D-Lincoln) have given way to competitive races among those who would like to succeed them.
In the Third Middlesex District represented by Fargo, Joe Kearns Goodwin and Mara Dolan, of Concord, former state Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington, Joseph Mullin of Weston and Alexander Buck of Chelmsford are all vying for the Democratic Party nomination, while Sandi Martinez of Chelmsford and Greg Howes of Concord are running on the Republican ticket.
Berry’s retirement has spawned a four-way Democratic primary between Salem City Councilor Joan Lovely, Governor’s Councilor Mary-Ellen Manning of Peabody, former Rep. John Slattery of Peabody and Edward Carroll of Salem.
Running to succeed Baddour in the First Essex District, former Methuen Mayor William Manzi is up against Timothy Coco of Haverhill and Kathleen Ives of Newburyport on the Democratic side, while Sam Meas and Shaun Toohey, both of Haverhill, are competing on the Republican ballot.
Also, Rep. Paul Adams (R-Andover) has a chance to challenge Sen. Barry Finegold (D-Andover) in November if Adams can beat Andover Republican Alex Vispoli on Thursday.
Despite holding only 4 of the 40 Senate seats, Massachusetts Republicans aren't running any candidates in many Senate districts this year and feature more than one candidate Thursday in only three districts - those represented by Finegold, Fargo and formerly represented by Baddour.
Senate President Therese Murray is the only senator with a primary and a general election challenger, though the expected November rematch between Murray and Sandwich Republican Tom Keyes is the more anticipated contest. Plymouth Democrat Stephen Palmer is on the ballot against Murray Thursday.
Both party primaries feature competitive races in the contest to succeed former Rep. James Vallee (D-Franklin), who left the House this year to work for a law firm.
Rep. Charles Murphy (D-Burlington) is the only name on the ballot in the 21st Middlesex District, but Murphy has joined a health care technology company so write-in candidates - including two Democrats and one Republicans waging campaigns - have a chance to advance to the Nov. 6 general election. By the time Murphy announced his career move this spring, it was too late for candidates to gather signatures to secure ballot access.
In the 5th Hampden District, former Rep. Michael Kane's name is also on the ballot even though he resigned from the House this year to work for an energy company. Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke) hopes to capitalize on Kane's decision not to run and faces no other competitors in his quest to succeed the Holyoke Democrat.
A new representative will be elected this year to succeed Will Brownsberger, a Belmont Democrat who jumped to the Senate after winning a special election to succeed former Sen. Steven Tolman. In the 24th Middlesex District, Margaret Hegarty and Robert Paul Reardon Jr. of Belmont are competing against David Rogers of Cambridge, with the winning Democrat facing Republican Tomassina Anne Olsen of Belmont in November.
With no Republican on the ballot this year, the race to succeed retiring Rep. Alice Wolf of Cambridge will likely be decided Thursday. Cambridge Democrats Marjorie Decker, Gayle Johnson and Lesley Rebecca Phillips are on the ballot in the 25th Middlesex District.
Five Worcester Democrats are in a scramble in the House district formerly represented by Vincent Pedone, who also resigned this session to work for a higher education advocacy group. Republican Brian O’Malley of Worcester awaits the survivor of the Democratic primary featuring Frank Beshai, Dianna Biancheria, Mary Keefe, Ralph Perez and Kate Toomey.
With West Newbury Democrat Rep. Harriett Stanley opting against seeking another term, three Republicans have jumped into the race to succeed her. The winner of Thursday’s primary between Robert Cronin of Boxford, Gary Fowler of Georgetown and Leonard Mirra of West Newbury will face Democrat Barry Fogel of West Newbury in November.
Republican Daniel Murphy of Easton awaits the winner of a four-way battle among Brockton Democrats to succeed outgoing Rep. Geraldine Creedon of Brockton. Thursday’s faceoff features Claire Cronin, Mark Linde, Jass Stewart and Robert Sullivan.
Many on Beacon Hill are curious to see how Rep. David Torrisi of North Andover fares against his Democratic challenger Diana DiZoglio of Methuen, and in western Massachusetts Rep. Denise Andrews of Orange finds herself in a four-way primary against Rebecca Bialecki and Genevieve Fraser, both of Orange, and Jim White of Phillipston.
Former Rep. Danielle Gregoire of Marlborough is also attempting to make a comeback after losing a nail-biter in 2010 to Rep. Steven Levy, but first she’ll have to get past Joseph Collins Sr. of Marlborough in the Democratic primary.
If she wins, Gregoire will join former Rep. Barbara L’Italien of Andover in trying to topple two of the more conservative freshman House Republicans in November in Levy and Rep. Jim Lyons, of Andover, who defeated L’Italien last election.
In Boston, Reps. Gloria Fox and Angelo Scaccia are the only two city-based representatives with challengers on Thursday. Fox will try to hold off Rufus Faulk and Jed Hresko, while Scaccia has one opponent, Anthony Solimine.