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February 26, 2014

Locals split over support for candidate

Area Democratic caucuses have wrapped up and no candidate in a crowded gubernatorial field emerged as a clear favorite in the Merrimack Valley, mirroring the trend among Democratic party insiders statewide.

One committee’s delegates to the Democratic convention in Worcester this June unanimously went for one candidate, while the others had numerous delegates elected without declaring for a candidate, or split among the five candidates.

North Andover’s 13 delegates, elected Feb. 12, will support state Treasurer Steven Grossman, town party officials said. Methuen elected 20 delegates on Saturday, and they split between Attorney General Martha Coakley, 12, and Grossman, 6, with four undecided. The two extra delegates are Mayor Stephen Zanni and the chairman of the city committee, who are automatically delegates.

Haverhill, which held its caucus Feb. 24, elected 35 delegates after every gubernatorial candidate but Coakley spoke, said William Cox, chairman of the Haverhill Democratic City Committee.

“Probably a majority of them are not committed to any candidate,” he said. “I think it’s a bit unusual when you have a race like this, because what I’ve seen in the past, especially for governor, they tend to organize for the caucuses and get slates of delegates.”

Cox said Gov. Deval Patrick and former Gov. Michael Dukakis excelled at that type of organizing.

In Lawrence, Grossman appeared at the city’s caucus on Saturday. Jay Rivera, chairman of the Lawrence Democratic City Committee, estimated that about 40 percent of the 36 delegates elected supported Grossman.

“Lawrence has always been a community that if you do the work, you get elected,” Rivera said. “The voters look for that. His being there had a huge impact on how delegates were elected.”

Rivera said one district still has to elect its seven delegates, meaning Lawrence will have 43 total.

In Methuen, Democratic City Committee Chairman Bryan Sweet said the support for Coakley was a bit unexpected. “We were expecting more Grossman people to come out,” Sweet said. “That’s what the talk has been, Grossman. All of a sudden, in the last couple of weeks it seems to have changed to Coakley.”

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