Downing: Democrats emerge from convention energized
PITTSFIELD -- Their party's nominees for governor and other statewide posts face hard-to-handicap primary races, but local Democrats see more energy than serious rifts following the state convention.
"I think we had engagement and energy up and down the ballot," state Sen. Ben Downing, D-Pittsfield, said of the convention over the weekend in Worcester.
"We had more than 4,700 delegates," he said, "and we had real energy and articulation of what Democrats have done over the past eight years."
The issues Democrats have championed and pushed forward under the leadership of outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick include education, infrastructure, equal opportunity, clean energy and expansion of technology, Downing said.
While there are three Democrats in the primary for governor, three for lieutenant governor, and races for the party's nod for treasurer and attorney general, Downing said he isn't worried that enduring splits could lead to Republican victories in November.
Part of his job as co-chairman of the party's coordinated campaign efforts, Downing said, will be to "make sure we keep the focus on the issues we have worked on. But I don't think that will be a heavy lift. We don't want to go back to fighting with a Republican governor."
Downing was named to the statewide coordinating position as the convention opened last week. He said his role will include making sure that, after the primary voting on Sept. 9, Democratic candidates have the offices, grassroots resources and funding they need for the general election.
He added that he'll also concentrate on his role as honorary chairman of the party's Youth Services Committee and with the College Democrats of Massachusetts to remind young voters -- as well as minority voters and others -- of the importance of election participation in non-presidential election years.
Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, said the convention provided "a weekend of surprises."
The biggest, she said, was the margin of delegate votes state Treasurer Steve Grossman secured over Attorney General Martha Coakley and the narrow margin between Coakley's total and that of third place finisher Donald Berwick.
Grossman received 35.2 percent of the delegate vote for governor, Coakley 23.3 percent and Berwick 22.1 percent. All three qualified for the primary ballot.
The results were a reverse image of results in a Boston Globe poll prior to the convention that showed Coakley with a 35 percentage-point lead over Grossman among voters and an 11-point lead over Republican Charles Baker, the strong favorite for his party's gubernatorial nomination.
The other Democrats seeking the nomination scored in the low single digits in the Globe poll.
Farley-Bouvier said she is supporting Grossman for the nomination, primarily because as state treasurer he ensured that the long-planned Taconic High School reconstruction project moved forward.
Other surprising convention results, Farley-Bouvier said, included the close margin for attorney general to replace Coakley, with former gubernatorial candidate Warren Tolman edging former Assistant Attorney General Maura Healey with 51.8 percent to 48.1 percent of the delegate vote. It was surprising that Healey, whom she supports, came close to Tolman's delegate total, as she is less well known statewide, Farley-Bouvier said.
The same was true of Tom Conroy, she said, who finished second in the delegate total for treasurer to Deb Goldberg and ahead of Barry Finegold. Goldberg received 38.9 percent of the delegate vote, Conroy had 33.1 percent and Finegold, 27.1 percent. All three qualified for the primary ballot.
Three candidates also qualified for the primary race for lieutenant governor: Steve Kerrigan, with 37.6 of the delegate vote, Mike Lake with 35.4, and Leland Cheung with 16.2 percent.
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