By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — The results of a straw poll taken at the North Andover Democratic Town Committee’s Annual Scholarship Breakfast on Sunday were very encouraging for veteran Congressman Edward Markey, who is running for U.S. senator in a special election June 25.
Eighty percent of those who cast ballots in the straw poll supported Markey. His opponent in the April 30 primary, Congressman Stephen Lynch of South Boston, garnered 17 percent.
Markey, of Malden, has been in Congress since 1976. He and Lynch are running in the special election to succeed John Kerry, who resigned to become secretary of state.
More than 150 local Democrats gathered at the North Andover Country Club. Besides lots of socializing and politicking, they honored this year’s Democrat of the Year, Walter Kirby of Johnson Street.
“So many people gave so much time and energy in 2012 to elect candidates that represent the Democratic Party’s values and ideals,” Town Committee Vice Chairman Philip DeCologero said. “But what makes Walter stand out is that he didn’t just work, he got other people to work. Walter truly broadened the tent by bringing in new volunteers, new activists – and as we already find ourselves in another election season, Walter has kept these people engaged and involved. He’s been selfless in his time, tireless in his work, and a true leader for all Democrats.”
A surprised Kirby thanked his family and said, “If you want to live like a Republican, vote Democratic,” to applause and laughter.
Emceed by Mark DiSalvo, special guests included Secretary of State William Galvin, State Treasurer Steven Grossman, Congressman John Tierney, D-Salem, and Methuen Mayor Stephen Zanni.
“I am excited by the turnout,” said Town Committee Chairwoman Tricia Melvin. “It really does get better year after year.”
Former state Rep. David Torrisi, D-North Andover, received special recognition at the breakfast. DiSalvo invited Torrisi to the front of the room and said:
“The verdict of the voters is not the only one that counts. The verdict that matters is doing what is right, advocating for that which is in your soul. David Torrisi passed that test every day while serving his district selflessly for 14 years in Boston – doing what is needed and sometimes courageously, not what is politic.”
Those remarks drew a standing ovation. As Torrisi stood before the room while holding his son, Jack, he thanked residents for their years of support and commitment.
Galvin spoke about the recent controversy over Chief Justice John Roberts, who incorrectly said that Massachusetts voter turnout among minorities was lower than in Mississippi. Galvin demanded an apology.
Grossman noted the frequent visits he has made to North Andover and called for more capital investment in small businesses. He touted the success of his effort to put state deposits in community banks, including some in North Andover.
Tierney, greeted with a standing ovation, expressed his appreciation for his victory in one of the nation’s toughest races last year. He said he seeks bipartisan cooperation in Congress and noted efforts members of both parties have made to limit health care insurance costs and reauthorize the Violence against Women Act.
Tierney said he supports “smart, not meat ax” cuts to the federal budget.
In addition to state and local officials, several candidates and potential candidates addressed the crowd. The lineup included announced 2014 gubernatorial candidate Joe Avellone, Lawrence City Councilor and mayoral candidate Dan Rivera, Selectman Rosemary Smedile, and School Committee candidates Mark Mezzina and Zora Warren.
State officials who spoke included Sens. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport and Barry Finegold, D-Andover, DiZoglio, Register of Deeds Paul Iannuccillo and Governor’s Councilor Eileen Duff.
Each guest received a straw poll ballot. They had the opportunity to vote not only for U.S. senator, but for candidates in hypothetical matchups for governor and president as well as in the local race for School Committee.
Racking up 88 percent of the vote, first-time candidate Zora Warren walked away with a big boost of encouragement for her campaign for School Committee.
DiSalvo cautioned, “It is not a scientific poll. It is the opinion only of the people in the room who chose to express that opinion.”
In the hypothetical race for governor, Grossman received 81 percent of the vote to Avellone’s 17 percent.
Perhaps the most lopsided result was the potential Democratic race for president between Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton received 109 votes– 95 percent – to Biden’s five.