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LOWELL -- While most went to listen, some came in with their minds made up.

The Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell was filled with supporters during the State Democratic Convention on Saturday morning.
The Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell was filled with supporters during the State Democratic Convention on Saturday morning. (SUN/Ashley Green)

For the around 3,000 Democrats who filled the Tsongas Arena Saturday, the party platform convention offered a first look at the 2014 governor's race, with four candidates now formally announced.

"We're blessed to live in a state with a lot of Democrats," said Wilmington delegate Michael Spinale. "I'm looking for the next Deval Patrick, someone who's not necessarily the establishment candidate."

Among the contenders Spinale and other Massachusetts Democrats have to pick from, so far, in next year's primary are state Sen. Dan Wolf of Harwich, former Wellesley selectman Joe Avellone, former Medicare and Medicaid administrator Don Berwick and state Treasurer Steve Grossman, who announced his candidacy during his speech Saturday morning.


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"I want to hear from them all," said delegate George Bell of Ayer. "We need to just listen and hear what they have to say. Some of the things they've been saying -- justice for minorities, justice for everybody -- those are a lot of the things that are important."

Berwick found a supporter in Robert Fleischer, a Groton delegate.

Fleischer said he was drawn to Berwick when they met at a reception Friday night, and the candidate seemed genuinely interested as he described his work at a company that creates Braille transcription software.

"He certainly speaks like a candidate I'd like to see as governor, and he's a good listener," Fleischer said.

First-time delegate Judy Gentry of Leominster said she was pleased to see Wolf wearing a button bearing the slogan, "Corporations are not people."

The founder of Winter Warmers, a charity that distributes hand-knitted items to the homeless, Gentry said she wanted to see candidates committed to fighting poverty.

"We gave out 2,300 items last year, but the need is so much bigger," she said.

Pittsfield delegate Brian Morrison, sporting a lanyard and t-shirt from his union, Local 509 of the Service Employees International Union, said he planned to back Grossman.

"I think he's done a great job as treasurer," said Morrison, president of the Berkshire Central Labor Council. "He's a guy that says what he's going to do, and delivers."

For more on this story, see Sunday's Sun or visit http://www.lowellsun.com.