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October 2, 2012

Battle between Independent, Democrat heating up in 17th Essex

Cuff calls Moran 'a vote for the mayor' of Lawrence

A scrappy independent making a first run for public office will face one of the region’s most established Democrats Nov. 6 in a statehouse district that was recently redrawn to include more Latinos by shedding Tewksbury and reaching further into Lawrence and up into Methuen.

Kevin Cuff acknowledges he’s an underfunded long-shot running without major party backing against a prominent Latino Democrat in a Democratic district created to favor Latino candidates. He says he’ll defeat Frank Moran, the Lawrence City Council president who also is seeking the 17th Essex House seat, by winning heavily in Andover, his hometown, and carrying a racially mixed south Lawrence neighborhood that remains a base for Anglo candidates.

The Mount Vernon neighborhood has had only a lukewarm relationship over the years with Moran, who otherwise wins his at-large races handily. Among the 24 election districts in Lawrence, E1 – the district that includes Mount Vernon – was one of just three where Moran did not finish first or second in his race for re-election last year. Moran came in third in Mount Vernon last year and, in 2009, fourth.

“My house sits on the Andover-Lawrence line, right on Mount Vernon, and I work it every day, “ Cuff said, describing how he says he will win a House seat he said was “preordained to be Frank’s.”

The seat is now held by Paul Adams, an Andover Republican who is giving it up to run for the state Senate.

Moran said his five years on the Lawrence City Council, including three as president, make him “the right person for the district.”

“Under my leadership, you have a City Council that’s able to find common ground,” Moran said. “It’s not like it used to be in the past, where there was fighting, bickering. Nothing got done. Now, everyone works for common ground.”

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