POLS PUMPED: State Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman, left, joins state Reps. David Nangle, right, and Kevin Murphy, center, at the
POLS PUMPED: State Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman, left, joins state Reps. David Nangle, right, and Kevin Murphy, center, at the Athenian Corner in Lowell Friday night. Watch for video at lowellsun.com. SUN / BOB WHITAKER

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.

LOWELL -- The machine has landed with excitement and exuberance in Lowell. The political machine, that is.

Democratic delegates and candidates from across the state flocked to downtown Lowell for parties on Friday night, hours before the 2013 Massachusetts Democratic State Convention kicked off at the Tsongas Center.

The drinks were flowing, appetizers were aplenty and excitement was at an all-time high in the center of the political universe.

"We've had an amazing year, we have a lot to celebrate and a lot to look forward to in the coming year," said John Kleschinsky, of Billerica, chairman of the Young Democrats of Massachusetts. Their party was at The Old Court. "It's never-ending for us.

Bumper stickers in downtown Lowell Friday night leave no doubt which party the owner belongs to.SUN / RICK SOBEYSun staff photos can be ordered by visiting
Bumper stickers in downtown Lowell Friday night leave no doubt which party the owner belongs to. SUN / RICK SOBEY

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.

"We got some great candidates for governor, and I'm really excited to meet all of them this weekend and find out where they stand on issues," he added.

Delegates will vote on the party platform today. In addition to the platform, three political races will be front-and-center at the convention; candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and U.S. representative in the 5th Congressional District were spread out across downtown Lowell on Friday night.

Treasurer Steven Grossman is running for governor, and he took over Athenian Corner starting at 6 p.m. His orange campaign T-shirts, which look like baseball jerseys with "Grossman" on the back and "14" for the year's election, were all around the Market Street restaurant.


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Joe Hamel, a delegate from Auburn, said Grossman has the best shot at winning the Democratic primary.

"I'm excited to look at all the candidates for governor, but Grossman is the front-runner -- it is what it is," Hamel said. "There isn't a Republican that they can put up that's got a fighting chance."

Apart from Gov. Deval Patrick and Sen.

U.S. Rep. John Tierney chats with Marianne Rutter, of Boxford, at the Athenian Corner restaurant in downtown Lowell Friday night. The Massachusetts
U.S. Rep. John Tierney chats with Marianne Rutter, of Boxford, at the Athenian Corner restaurant in downtown Lowell Friday night. The Massachusetts Democratic State Convention opens today at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell. Watch for video at lowellsun.com. SUN / BOB WHITAKER

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.
-elect Ed Markey speaking on Saturday, as well as the platform, Grossman is looking forward to activists coming together to "recommit and rededicate themselves to the values of this party, and to the principles of organizing that got Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey elected," he said.

"That special spirit, that power of grass-roots organizing, is what we'll renew tomorrow, and I'm proud to be part of it," Grossman said.

More candidates were found at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, including governor candidate and state Sen. Dan Wolf, founder and CEO of Cape Air. Wolf said he's excited to see "all these passionate people who care about our future come together.

State Sen. Eileen Donoghue, of Lowell, joins gubernatorial candidate Dan Wolf, left, and Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh at the UMass
State Sen. Eileen Donoghue, of Lowell, joins gubernatorial candidate Dan Wolf, left, and Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center on Friday night. SUN / RICK SOBEY

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.
"

"There are too many people who are falling further and further behind in this economy, so we really need to come together and deal with that," said Wolf, as Newton Mayor Setti Warren gave him a hug.

The other candidates for governor are Joe Avellone of Wellesley and Don Berwick of Newton, so far. Attorney General Martha Coakley has been rumored as the fifth candidate.

Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian is running for Ed Markey's vacant Congress seat. Koutoujian, at the Inn & Conference Center, said Democrats should be exhausted after numerous elections and special elections, but the exuberance this weekend shows a lot about the party, he said.

"I know that people are tired, but this is really a testament to the passion that Democrats feel about their ideology and philosophy. They're really committed to it," Koutoujian said.

Mayors congregated at The Blue Shamrock on Market Street, including Amesbury Mayor Thatcher Kezer. He couldn't wait to talk to other elected officials and share ideas on economic development.

"It's the energy of it all that makes it that much more exciting," said Kezer, who added that he loves visiting Lowell.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.