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September 7, 2012

It's Ives vs. Toohey for state senate

Seacoast voters eliminate Democrats Coco, Manzi

Newburyport City Councilor Kathleen O’Connor Ives won the Democratic nomination for 1st Essex state Senate, handily beating former Methuen Mayor William Manzi and Haverhill businessman Tim Coco in a “geographic race.”

O’Connor Ives won 4,028 votes, with much of her margin coming in Newburyport and the coastal towns. Coco, with 3,324 votes, and Manzi, with 3,292, both won big in their respective cities, but could not make up the difference in a close North Andover race and in a relatively poor showings on the shore. The district runs from Methuen east along the Merrimack River, including Haverhill, Merrimac, Amesbury, Salisbury, Newburyport and four precincts of North Andover.

“I had an amazing team of volunteers that worked really hard throughout the whole summer,” O’Connor Ives said last night.“I’ve met a lot of new people. I met a lot of new friends in every city and town in the district, and I want to keep this campaign going so we can win on Nov. 6.”

Manzi won Methuen by more than 1,100 votes over Coco. Coco, in turn, took Haverhill by about 1,100 votes over Manzi. All the candidates ran close in North Andover, with the spread being about 90 votes out of nearly 1,100 total.

But O’Connor Ives romped in Newburyport, winning by about 1,500 votes there and getting big margins in Merrimac, Salisbury and Amesbury.

She won 511 votes in each Methuen and Haverhill, and held her own in North Andover, running better in the part of the district unfamiliar to her than her opponents did on her turf.

“I spent the summer introducing myself to residents in Methuen, Haverhill, North Andover and Merrimac,” O’Connor Ives said from her victory party in Salisbury. “It was important for me to be clear on where I stood on the issues and share with people my approach to solving problems, and let them know I had a track record. I wanted to earn their trust and confidence.”

Her husband, Jeff Ives, credited her victory to old-fashioned shoe-leather campaigning. “Do you remember (the photo of) the hole in the shoe of (1952 and 1956 Democratic presidential candidate) Adlai Stevenson? That could have been Katy, wearing out her shoes as she knocked on doors and met voters this summer,” he said.

Manzi, at a gathering with supporters in Haverhill, said O’Connor Ives did well on the coast and her home of Newburyport, more than neutralizing how well he and Coco did in their respective hometowns. “It turned out to be a geographic race,” he said.

He said the “seat is in play” and could go Republican, and he committed himself to helping O’Connor Ives however he could.

“I intend to work for the Democratic nominee,” he said. “I think it’s more important as we go forward because the things Democrats value are important.”

Manzi complimented his primary opponents, saying the “race was about ideas.”

At his own gathering down Essex Street from Manzi in Haverhill, Coco said he was proud of his race, coming in second overall.

“I’m very proud, as a first time candidate, to have won Haverhill and more importantly raised very basic issues that turned out to be very critical in this campaign,” he said, also pledging his support to O’Connor Ives in the fall.

O’Connor Ives will face the Republican winner, Haverhill School Committee member Shaun Toohey, and two independents – Amesbury City Councilor James Kelcourse and Haverhill

School Committee member Paul Magliocchetti. The general election is Nov. 6 to fill the seat vacated in April by former state Sen. Steven Baddour, D-Methuen.

“I’m going to continue to work hard and I want to be available and accessible to residents throughout the district, to know their priorities, find out their concerns and be responsive to the questions they have,” she said. “It’s about being straightforward and clear about why I’m motivated to do this work.”

In Methuen, several residents said they voted for their hometown state Senate candidate. “I voted for Manzi because he was  the mayor,” said John Catanzaro, who voted at the Timony Grammar School yesterday evening. “He knows the district and the people.”

Bart Heusser of Haverhill cast his ballot at the Public Library, Ward 3, Precinct 2. An independent who said he usually votes Republican, Heusser said he chose the Democratic Party ballot, although he liked some of the candidates on the Republican ballot. He could only choose one party primary to participate in.

“I voted for Tim Coco because I like what I’ve read about him,” Heusser said. “I probably would have voted for (Republican) Shawn Toohey, but I wasn’t give that choice.”

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