Lawrence City Council President Frank Moran easily defeated lobbyist Kevin Cuff in the 17 Essex House District, taking the seat back for Democrats in a low-budget, low-profile race that drew little notice amid the lavish spending and much tighter races in neighboring contests.
Moran’s victory would normally open up the at-large seat on the council he has held for three terms, as well as the council presidency he has held for two. But Moran, a Democrat, has said he will serve the second year of his two-year term on the council while also serving in the Statehouse.
Moran, 42, a real estate broker and investor, did not return a phone call last night.
Cuff, an Andover resident who ran as an independent, carried only the three precincts in the Andover portion of the 17 District, which he won by a margin of 1,153 votes. But Moran gained much of that back in the one Methuen precinct in the district, which he won by 707 votes, and was burying Cuff in Lawrence.
Moran carried all three of the Lawrence precincts that reported results by 11 p.m. - including the Mount Vernon district that Cuff said he would have to win to upset Moran - by a margin of about 1,351 votes.
Cuff, who is executive director of Community Mortgage Lenders of America, an industry group, called Moran to concede at 9:30 p.m., as the counting still was going on in the city.
“The bottom line is the city of Lawrence got what they wanted to get and what they deserve to get,” Cuff said. “They got what they wanted, despite everything they knew.”
He said he was referring to what he said is Moran’s close political relationship with Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua, which Cuff made a centerpiece of his campaign because of the liability he said he expected it would pose for Moran.
The 17 Essex House seat had been held by Republican Paul Adams, who gave it up this year to challenge incumbent Democrat Barry Finegold in the 2nd Essex and Middlesex Senate District, a race Adams lost last night.
Adams and two others spent a total of about $180,000 in the race to represent the 17th Essex District two years ago. This year, Moran and Cuff together had spent just $9,000 by Oct. 15, the last date for which numbers are available. The contest had no Republican.
Moran earns $17,000 as a city councilor and council president, will earn about $60,000 as a state representative. He also owns several apartment units in Lawrence and Methuen and his own real estate business, but did not disclose his income from those sources on the financial disclosure forms state candidates must file.