EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

May 1, 2013

Veteran Markey faces newcomer Gomez for U.S. Senate seat

Valley vote mirrors statewide tally in low-turnout primary


Even before the April 15 bombing, the campaign had failed to capture the attention of voters like the 2010 special election following the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy. Former Republican Sen. Scott Brown won that contest before being ousted last year in another high-profile race by Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren.

“There’s a lot of apathy,” said Kathy Runge, after casting a ballot for Republican Michael Sullivan in South Lawrence.

Then she offered some advice to the voters who stayed home: “Don’t complain.”

Inside, poll watcher German Lembert was baffled by the low turnout, comparing it to the excitement that surrounds elections in the Dominican Republic, which he left 21 years ago for the United States.

“You go to the street and (tell) people, ‘Today’s an election.’ They say, ‘An election?,’ “ Lembert said.

Andover Town Clerk Larry Murphy said that while turnout for yesterday’s special election was low, by 11 a.m. it was already better than the March 27 town election.

“I expect 10 to 15 percent,” Murphy said, noting that as of 11 a.m., 1,128 people had voted, or about 4.9 percent of the town’s 22,835 voters.

Retired public school teachers Mitchell Dirsa, 72, and his wife Jacqueline Dirsa, 71, both of Haverhill, said they voted in the primary in hopes of helping Ed Markey win.

“We felt that the vote would be light so we wanted to cast our ballots,” Mitchell Dirsa said. “Markey stands for what I believe in, pro-choice, gun control and the rights of women.”

“Markey has a good record and he’s a strong candidate,” Jacqueline Dirsa said.

In North Andover, Thomas Dawley, of Hickory Hill Road, said he voted for Gabriel Gomez. He suggested Gomez would be the strongest Republican candidate against the likely Democratic nominee, Congressman Edward Markey.

Gomez, he said, might draw Hispanic voters to his cause.

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