Dems Hit Campaign Trail After Party Convention

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Don Berwick said Monday he was confident he would make himself better known to primary voters in the coming months and dismissed attempts to frame the race as one between Attorney General Martha Coakley and state Treasurer Steven Grossman.

Berwick, a pediatrician and former federal health care administrator, qualified for the Sept. 9 primary ballot after finishing third at the state Democratic convention on Saturday. He almost edged out Coakley for second place among the nearly 4,400 delegates who voted.

Grossman, who won the convention endorsement, and Coakley both kicked off statewide campaign swings on Monday.

While Berwick, a first-time candidate, made inroads with many liberal party activists, recent polls suggest he remains largely unknown to the much wider state audience. For example, a Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll released before the convention found nearly 60 percent of 800 likely Democratic voters surveyed had never heard of Berwick and few had formed an opinion about him.

"Getting name recognition is what a campaign is all about," Berwick said in a conference call. He predicted voters would be receptive to his agenda, which includes a call for a single-payer "Medicare for All" health care system and repeal of the state's casino gambling law.

While saying he would have sufficient financial resources for his campaign, Berwick did not say whether he planned statewide TV ads that could be critical to getting prospective voters' attention during the summer months.

Berwick had about $229,000 in his campaign account at the end of May, compared with $910,000 for Grossman and $528,000 for Coakley, according to state records.

Grossman touted his convention victory over Coakley in a statement Monday that ignored Berwick.

"The people of Massachusetts have a clear choice this fall: Do you want a progressive job creator or a career prosecutor as your next governor?" asked Grossman, who headed his family's business, Massachusetts Envelope Co., for several decades before being elected state treasurer in 2010.

Berwick dismissed as "spin" Grossman's apparent strategy of framing the campaign as a two-person race.

"It is a two-way race," Berwick said. "It's a race between boldness and timidity."

Coakley visited with fast-food industry workers in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood on Monday, pledging her support for the workers who are seeking to unionize and pushing for a minimum $15 per hour wage.

"I look forward to meeting with folks across the Commonwealth in the coming weeks to hear their concerns and discuss how we can provide all of our workers and families with the opportunity to succeed," she said in a statement.

Coakley has held large leads in early polling of likely Democratic voters over Grossman, who began what his campaign called the "One Commonwealth" tour with stops at a career center in Salem and a Taunton organization that assists first-time homebuyers and tenants.

Two other candidates, Juliette Kayyem and Joseph Avellone, failed to get at least 15 percent of the convention vote, so their names will not appear on the September ballot.

Charlie Baker and Mark Fisher will compete in the Republican primary.


This article was originally published on June 16, 2014.


More from WBUR

Listen Live