The Washington Post

Election Day in Massachusetts: Four things to watch

While Democrats gather in Charlotte for the final day of their national convention, it's also Election Day in Massachusetts.

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

There isn't much high-profile action, but a pair of congressional incumbents face primaries worth keeping an eye on, while Joe Kennedy III tries to take the next step toward the House, and Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Scott Brown (R) are already in general election mode. Here are four things to watch when the polls close Thursday evening:

Bill Keating/Richard Neal

There are two incumbents in the all-Democratic House delegation to keep an eye on Thursday. Both face primaries, though most Democratic strategists expect both to win.

In the 9th district, Rep. Bill Keating faces Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter. Redistricting forced the state to shed one congressional seat, and instead of challenging fellow Rep. Stephen Lynch, Keating opted to run in the new 9th. Keating has a fundraising lead and endorsements from well-known Democrats, but he is only in his first term in the House.

Unlike Keating, Rep. Richard Neal (D) is a veteran member, having served in the House since 1989. Neal faces Berkshire Middle District Register of Deeds Andrea Nuciforo and writer Bill Shein in the new 1st district. He is expected to win, but it's always worth keeping tabs on three-way races.

The most interesting congressional race in the state does not feature primaries on either side. The sixth district general election matchup between Rep. John Tierney (D) — whose wife's family's legal troubles have caused him political problems — and Republican Richard Tisei is the one to watch this fall.

Warren/Brown race already underway

Practically speaking, the general election in the Senate race began when Elizabeth Warren decided to make a bid last year. The launch of her campaign all but ended the hopes of any other Democrats running. Earlier this year, Warren avoided facing a primary Thursday by winning 95 percent of the delegate vote at the June state Democratic convention.

Warren struck a populist tone in a high-profile primetime address in Charlotte on Wednesday night. It was a timely opportunity for the Democrat, with Sen. Scott Brown (R) appearing to have momentum on his side lately.

A new Kennedy in Congress?

Following Patrick Kennedy’s retirement after eight terms representing Rhode Island's 1st district, Washington was left without a Kennedy serving in elected office for the first time in 63 years. That will change this fall if Joseph Kennedy III, the son of former congressman Joseph Kennedy II and the grandson of the late senator Robert F. Kennedy, is elected.

Kennedy is the frontrunner in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D). He faces a challenge from two other Democrats in the 4th district Thursday, but is expected to advance. Kennedy was in Charlotte on Tuesday to address the Democratic National Convention.

Low turnout

A Thursday election plus a lack of competitive statewide races is a recipe for very low turnout. Secretary of State William Galvin expects about 15 percent of the electorate to cast ballots.

Why is the election being held on a Thursday and not the traditional Tuesday? Timing. As the Boston Globe explains, Galvin has to finalize the general election ballot 45 days in advance. Holding the election any later would have been too late, and holding it on Tuesday of this week would have required elections staff across the state to work on Labor Day.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



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