Mass. Primary Voting Underway

At the top of the ticket are the Democratic and Republican primaries for governor

Candidates for every office from governor to state representative are revving up their get-out-the-vote efforts as they work to pull sympathetic voters to the polls on a Primary Day officials warn could see a low turnout.

At the top of the ticket are the Democratic and Republican primaries for governor.

On the Democratic side Attorney General Martha Coakley - the front-runner in polls - is working to fend off challenges from state Treasurer Steven Grossman and former federal health care administrator Don Berwick.

The GOP ballot includes former Harvard Pilgrim Health Care executive Charlie Baker and tea party-affiliated business owner Mark Fisher. Baker has maintained a hefty lead in polls.

Another top race is the Democratic contest for attorney general pitting former assistant attorney general Maura Healey against former state Sen. Warren Tolman. Whoever wins will face Republican John Miller in November.

Among the congressional races, the most closely watched primary is in the 6th Congressional District, where nine-term incumbent Rep. John Tierney is facing four Democratic challengers. Tierney has targeted one of those challengers - businessman and Iraq War veteran and businessman Seth Moulton - with television ads linking him to Republicans who support gun rights and oppose abortion rights.

Whoever wins the Democratic primary will face former Republican state Sen. Richard Tisei in November.

The other down ticket races have received less attention.

One is the contest for treasurer. Three Democrats are vying for their party's nomination to succeed Grossman: former Brookline selectwoman Deborah Goldberg, state Rep. Thomas Conroy of Wayland, and state Sen. Barry Finegold of Andover. The winner will face Republican candidate Michael James Heffernan of Wellesley in the general election.

Massachusetts Secretary William Galvin, the state's top elections official, has forecast total turnout for both parties is unlikely to exceed 15 to 20 percent of registered voters. About 53 percent of the state's 4.2 million voters are unenrolled in either major party, but can cast ballots in either the Democratic or Republican primary.

Whichever Democrat wins the party's nomination for governor will have to quickly replenish his campaign coffers if Baker wins.

As of the end of August, Baker reported nearly $1.2 million left in his campaign account, compared to $240,962 for Grossman, $220,094 for Berwick and $197,278 for Coakley.

Unlike Baker, who was facing a little-known and poorly funded GOP primary opponent in Fisher, the three Democrats were forced to spend down their accounts to try to win their primary.

Baker also benefits from the fundraising prowess of his hand-picked choice for lieutenant governor, former Shrewsbury state Rep. Karen Polito, who is running unopposed in the GOP primary. The two plan to run as a ticket in November.

As of the end of August, Polito had $593,842 left in her account compared to the three Democratic lieutenant governor candidates: Mike Lake ($71,750); Stephen Kerrigan ($22,348); and Leland Cheung ($14,766). Whoever wins the Democratic primary will run as a ticket with the winner of the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Each of the gubernatorial candidates plans a primary night party, although not everyone may feel like celebrating when the returns roll in.

All three Democrats will be in Boston: Coakley will be at the Fairmont Copley Plaza; Berwick's party is at the Westin Copley Place Hotel; and Grossman will be at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.

Baker plans to watch the returns roll in at a party at the Venezia Restaurant in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. Fisher will be at Chuck's Steak House in Auburn.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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