MELROSE, Mass. Democratic state Sen. Katherine Clark, of Melrose, will face Republican Frank Addivinola in the special 5th Congressional District election to fill the House seat vacated by Sen. Ed Markey.
The people of Massachusetts had no women representing them in Congress as recently as 2007. Wednesday morning, they awoke a step closer to having three.
It’s not clear how many women rallied behind Clark to help her to victory. The only other woman in the race, state Sen. Karen Spilka, of Ashland, came in fifth.
An early supporter of Clark’s, Attorney General Martha Coakley, said Clark’s victory is more complicated than identity politics.
“It’s not so much just that it’s a woman, but it’s a woman who represents the history and experience about where we’ve been and where we want to go,” Coakley said. “But it’s much more inclusive than that. It’s not the message of the 60s or 70s. It’s about, we deserve and have earned a place at the table because we care about the things that everybody cares about.”
In her victory speech, Clark addressed the stark choice Tea Party Republicans have placed before Congress.
“I believe our cause is worth fighting for, a cause that says we’re a better country when we provide people with health care instead of shutting down the government to take it away,” Clark said.
Clark won with 32 percent of the vote. Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian took 22 percent. State Rep. Carl Sciortino, of Medford, came in third with 16 percent. State Sen. Will Brownsberger, of Belmont, came in fourth with 15 percent. Spilka was fifth, with 13 percent — a sign that union endorsements don’t necessarily translate into union votes. Paul John Maisano was sixth with 2 percent and Martin Long was last with 1 percent.
Each of the top five candidates had strengths in his or her part of the district. Clark’s hometown of Melrose went overwhelmingly for her. Her supporters there said they voted for her because they know her.
Clark also won Stoneham, Winchester and Woburn.
All of the campaigns wanted to take the big liberal bastions of Lexington and Arlington, where none of them have a political base. Clark won both. She also won Cambridge, Lincoln, Sudbury, Wayland and Weston.
As the Democratic nominee in a district that gave President Obama his second-biggest margin of victory in Massachusetts last year, Clark is now the heavy favorite to become the next representative in Washington. Her Republican opponent, attorney and publisher Frank Addivinola, of Boston, not in the district, recognizes that Democrats outnumber Republicans.
“But when we get to a general election, they’re not going to vote simply along party lines,” Addivinola predicted. “And when they go to the ballot, they have to ask what person is going to best represent their interests? Who has practical experiences? Who is not a career politician? Who agrees to term limits? I’m going to be there no more than eight years.”
Addivinola, the Tea Party candidate, took 49 percent of the vote, easily defeating his two rivals, Mike Stopa, of Holliston, who took 26 percent, and Tom Tierney, of Framingham, who won 25 percent. It is a sign of how quickly former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown’s political star seems to have fallen among Republicans in Massachusetts that even though he endorsed Stopa, Addivinola won.
With reporting by WBUR’s Fred Bever.