Massachusetts Democrats Weigh Candidates At Convention

Juliette Kayyem and Joseph Avellone, two of the five Democrats vying to succeed Gov. Deval Patrick, fell short of the support they needed from delegates to the Democratic state convention to advance to the state primary election in September, their campaigns announced on Saturday.

Staff for the three other gubernatorial hopefuls, Attorney General Martha Coakley, state Treasurer Steven Grossman and former federal health care administrator Don Berwick, all confirmed that their candidates would make the primary ballot, though vote totals had not yet been announced at the Worcester gathering. The leading vote-getter will earn the party's endorsement.

"While the campaign fell short of our 15 percent goal, Juliette got people talking about criminal justice reform, climate change, and strengthening our state's infrastructure," the campaign of Kayyem, a former homeland security official, said in a statement.

They needed to receive support from at least 15 percent of the more than 4,600 voting delegates to advance to the September primary.

Avellone, in a statement released by his campaign, said while he came up short in the delegate vote, he was grateful to supporters and promised to work for the party's eventual nominee. A business executive and former Wellesley selectman, Avellone had positioned himself as the most fiscally moderate of the Democratic candidates.

Coakley is running for governor more than four years after her stunning upset loss to Republican Scott Brown in the special election to succeed the late U.S. Sen Edward Kennedy. In her speech to the several thousand delegates at the convention, Coakley said she understood the disappointment and frustration Democrats felt after that race and promised not to let her guard down this time.

"There is no one who is going to travel more miles, knock on more doors, shake more hands, or make more phone calls than me in this race. There is no one who is going to work harder," Coakley said. "And if I earn your support in September, and someone thinks they're going to beat us in this race, they have no idea of the fight they've got on their hands.

Coakley later told reporters that she was not worried about winning her party's endorsement, only advancing to the primary.

Grossman, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, is seen by many analysts as the favorite to win the convention endorsement.

"As long as there is a single person anywhere in this commonwealth who lacks a job, who has lost hope, or been robbed of their dignity, our work is not done," Grossman told the delegates. "This is no time for part-time progressives."

Berwick began his speech with the story of a young black man who beat childhood leukemia only to die, impoverished, in the streets later in life.

"It is a lie that those with great wealth have the right to control our future. It is a lie that corporations are people. They aren't. It is a lie that the poor make themselves poor; that the sick make themselves sick," said Berwick, who has made support for a single payer health system and opposition to casinos the centerpieces of his campaign.

Patrick is not seeking re-election and used his final convention speech on Friday night to accuse Republicans of "offering us the same tired policies from the same tired people," an apparent reference to Republican gubernatorial front-runner Charlie Baker, whom Patrick defeated four years ago.

Democrats were also choosing between candidates for other statewide offices, with the same 15 percent rule in play.

Maura Healey, a top aide to Coakley, and former state Sen. Warren Tolman were vying for attorney general.

The candidates for lieutenant governor are former Department of Agriculture regional administrator James Arena-DeRosa, Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung, former presidential elector Michael Lake and former Lancaster selectman Stephen Kerrigan.

Wayland state Rep. Thomas Conroy, Andover state Sen. Barry Finegold and former Brookline selectman Deborah Goldberg are running for treasurer.

This article was originally published on June 14, 2014.


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