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A Sleepy Campaign Finally Wakes Up As Voters Head To Polls

BOSTON — It’s primary day in Massachusetts. The three Republican and two Democratic candidates in the special U.S. Senate election find out who will go on to represent their parties in the general election.

Monday morning, Republican state Rep. Dan Winslow, of Norfolk, was headed for a diner in downtown Quincy to greet voters.

“This election is wide open,” Winslow said. “I’ve never seen an election like this.”

Winslow’s campaign has been tracking voters and found that as late as this weekend, many likely voters in the Republican primary were still undecided or willing to change their minds. Winslow hopes they break his way.

But things seems to be breaking Gabriel Gomez’s way. The Cohasset private equity manager was also greeting voters at a diner, in Marshfield. Gomez is leading in the polls, but mindful that it’s all about getting his voters out Tuesday.

“We’ve got people back at headquarters making phone calls on phone banks,” Gomez said. “We’ve got over 100 town captains that are getting their towns organized and we’re getting people ready to drive people to the polls.”

Gomez has outraised his two Republican opponents, to the frustration of former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, who sent out an appeal for money to his supporters over the weekend citing his impression that Gomez was ubiquitous on television. But as he visited businesses in Hingham Monday afternoon, Sullivan pointed out the strength of his campaign.

“It’s a grassroots campaign that got us on the ballot and it’s a grassroots campaign that’s going to put us to victory,” Sullivan said.

Of all the candidates, Congressman Ed Markey has the most formidable grassroots organization, with enthusiastic organizers from the Obama and Elizabeth Warren campaigns throughout the state. Monday afternoon, before greeting commuters at South Station, Markey was asked how, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, he expected to get people interested in this race.

“I think it’s important that we have people come out and participate,” Markey said. “We are the inventors of democracy and I think that’s an important fact that everyone in our state is cognizant of, and I think we’re going to see a very high turnout.”

This has been a sleepy race. But Monday night, at Stephen Lynch’s rally in South Boston, it felt anything but. You heard union workers talking to each other with confidence about how they were going to get the vote out and win Tuesday. And the Democratic congressman from South Boston gave them the most rousing speech of the campaign, with an ode to the police and fire unions on whom he’s counting.

“So you can rest your head on your pillow at night, because you know whether you have crime in your neighborhood, or whether you have a fire on your street, or whether you have a terrorist attack on your city, those are the people who are there to protect you: our first responders,” Lynch told his supporters, many of them firefighters.

Lynch reminded reporters that on 9/11 he won the Democratic primary in the special election for the seat he now holds. The phones were out for part of the day and union workers went door to door to bring voters to the polls.

For each of the candidates, it’s all about how their teams get their voters to the polls now. Be prepared for some surprises.

This post was updated with Morning Edition feature content.

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