BOSTON — On the last weekend of a campaign, you can sometimes sense the relative energy that each candidate generates. You might attend a big event everyone feels obliged to attend, but where there is no enthusiasm. Or you might show up expecting a few people at a coffee shop and find a crowd overflowing into the street.
This wasn’t that kind of a weekend. For one thing, the candidates in the special U.S. Senate race were still gingerly re-entering the race just ahead of Tuesday’s primary after the Boston Marathon bombings interrupted not just politics but life in Massachusetts.
For another, several candidates chose instead to appear at the kind of events where you’d find average people congregating on a gorgeous spring weekend.
On Saturday morning, Republican private equity manager Gabriel Gomez took to Cohasset Common with his two sons, 8 and 11, for the town’s annual Little League parade.
“This is a huge event. It’s opening day for Little League, for all of baseball in Cohasset,” Gomez said. He wore his blue-and-yellow Boston Marathon jacket, a memento of the frightening minutes when, shortly after he crossed the finish line the bombs went off and he couldn’t find his wife and four children. All were safe, and bright and early Saturday morning, Gomez was greeting neighbors.
Gomez has some reason for optimism. A Western New England University poll this month finds him with 6-point lead in the three-man Republican race.
“It’s all going to be about getting our vote out,” Gomez said. “If we get our vote out, we should do extremely well.”
On the other hand, the same poll shows 30 percent of voters are undecided.
The campaign of state Rep. Dan Winslow, of Norfolk, says it finds a very high number of voters it contacts say they are undecided or don’t know enough about the candidates to make an informed choice.
Winslow was mindful that this weekend marked the first time that many voters were paying any attention to the race.
“The election began on Friday,” Winslow said. “About 70 percent of voters were undecided as of Friday, and Republican voters are high-information voters; they take time to look at the candidates, to compare the candidates.”
Saturday afternoon, Winslow was in Middleton, talking with people in line at Richardson’s Ice Cream, reminding them of Tuesday’s primary.
Winslow predicts that many Republican voters won’t make up their mind until they enter the voting booth. “And that’s why I think I have a really good shot at this race,” he said. “We’re ending strong. We have a strong ground game.”
“I’ve never taken anything for granted in my life,” Sullivan said. “I’ve tried to work hard and I think the more people I have an opportunity to speak with, particularly the opportunity to speak with people directly, the more we’ll have the opportunity to connect.
Sullivan spent Sunday greeting Vietnam veterans and their families in his hometown of Abington.
“I’ve been coming to this as far back as I can remember,” Sullivan said. “It’s a great opportunity for us on the civilian side to thank those people in service to our country, particularly those who served during the Vietnam War era. It’s kind of special for me to be here.”
On Saturday, one of the Democratic candidates, Congressman Stephen Lynch, of South Boston, was also campaigning among veterans, at Boston’s Wounded Veterans motorcycle run at Suffolk Downs.
Polls place Lynch behind his Democratic rival, Rep. Ed Markey, of Malden, but the weekend before the primary Lynch was optimistic.
“I think we’re going to win. I feel good. We got a good energy going here,” Lynch said. “We’re going around the state, with getting people refocused on the race after the events on April 15th. We really did rightly focus everybody’s attention on those attacks, but now I think people are starting to return to the election and that’s a good thing.”
Markey spent the weekend energizing his large volunteer base.
“We have built a fantastic organization in all 351 cities and towns. There’s a tremendous amount of excitement,” Markey said. “I feel really good about what we have built on the ground to get out the vote and with a little bit of hard work and a little bit of luck, we will be victorious on Tuesday night.”
On Saturday night, Markey was in Lawrence, at El Taller. One of Markey’s campaign workers commented that the restaurant was so beautiful it could have been in Jamaica Plain. Plates of cheese, salami, fruit plates, oil and bread, nachos and flautas were scattered about. The crowd was a mix of liberal activists and Latinos, part of a coalition Markey hopes will propel him to victory.
Secretary of State William Galvin is predicting a low turnout Tuesday, which in a race like this means anything could happen.