A Few Surprises in the Primaries

On Tuesday, September 9, the Massachusetts primaries were held, upholding many of the predictions made and leading to a few surprises.

The Democratic primary for governor was unsurprisingly won by Martha Coakley, though by an unexpectedly close margin. Coakley led her opponents by 20 points for months, and while some polls suggested that Steve Grossman might be closing the gap, her six point win on Tuesday, with 42% of the vote to Grossman’s 36%, was narrower than expected.

The Republican primary for governor between Charlie Baker and Mark Fisher was mainly a question of how much Baker would win by. He collected 74% of the votes, which was hardly a surprise given Fisher’s strong Tea Party leanings.

Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker at the 2014 Suffolk Law School Rappaport Roundtable Event.

Charlie Baker Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The Democratic race for lieutenant governor held no surprises, with Stephen Kerrigan picking up 51% of the vote against his two opponents, meaning a Coakley-Kerrigan ticket in November. The race for treasurer was similarly uneventful, as Deborah Goldberg picked up 43% of the vote, giving her an 11-point victory.

One of the two surprises of the night came courtesy of the races for Attorney General. In the Democratic primary for Attorney General, Maura Healey, a newcomer to Massachusetts’ politics, defeated Warren Tolman, a former state senator. Healey is a former assistant district attorney, and if she wins in November, she will become the first openly gay person to hold a statewide office in Massachusetts.

The other surprise came courtesy of the US House race in the Sixth District, where Congressman John Tierney, who was first elected as a representative in 1997, was defeated by Seth Moulton, a former Marine and veteran of the Iraq war. Moulton won with 49.3% of the vote, just under 9% more than Tierney. This is the first time a current Massachusetts congressman has lost a primary since 1992.

The governor’s race, long expected to be a Coakley-Baker matchup, will be difficult, as the latest polling has them neck and neck, with Baker just pulling ahead. Voters should prepare for a long and contentious election season, as there’s plenty of time for surprises between now and November.



Grace Denny