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(NECN: Alison King) – Massachusetts Senate candidate, Congressman Ed Markey, joined almost 200 supporters at the State House to crow about the 52,000 signatures he says he gathered in February with the help of 2,850 volunteers.
Markey said, "This signature gathering was historic... Those signatures reveal the character of this campaign... And growing."
The group then walked to the nearby Secretary of State's office to deliver the signatures, all part of the Markey's campaign's effort to demonstrate his state wide grassroots network - a network bolstered by much of the state's Democratic establishment - one of the reasons Markey is considered the man to beat in the special senate election.
Markey described it as, "Just a predictor of the 12 hours per day, 7 days a week for the rest of the campaign taking nothing for granted."
Among those who turned out for Markey, members of AFSCME, a union representing 35-thousand municipal employees. Markey has also received the support of the Mass Teachers Assocation. It's no secret that Union members provide great support to campaigns and they're being watched extra closely in this Democratic Primary.
Enter Markey's Democratic opponent, Congressman Stephen Lynch, a former Ironworker and Union President, known for getting strong union support in his previous campaigns.
He says, "Those are the workers ...The nurses union, the firefighters union, the police unions, the laborers, the carpenters. Those are big organizations that are state wide. Postal carriers."
At Friday's much anticipated AFL CIO Executive Board meeting, Lynch was endorsed by 32 unions, Markey by two. Still the state's largest Labor union did not make an endorsement, a disappointment for the Lynch campaign.
Lynch explained: "Well, some of the unions will not endorse in a primary with Democrat against Democrat. They have rules that don't allow them to do that. And we respect that."
Ed Markey was satisfied with the outcome, "I was glad the AFL CIO decided to issue no endorsement of either candidate so we can both campaign vigorously for union support all across the state."