Tuesday, November 7, 2006
Campaign volunteers stuffed their pockets with stickers bearing the names of their candidates for Framingham's 6th Middlesex House seat this morning and fanned out to the town's precincts where voters are choosing a successor to deceased state Representative Deborah D. Blumer.
Blumer's death, of a heart attack last month, set up a six-way write-in race for the Democrat's seat. Although the Democratic and Republican committees in the town each selected preferred candidates, four others hopefuls also are staging aggressive campaigns for the seat in a race that has focused on illegal immigration, social services and taxes.
"Most people got stickers in the mail and brought them with them," said Evelyn Reilly, a volunteer for the campaign of Nicholas Sanchez, who has been endorsed by local Republicans.
She stood outside the Hemenway School in Framingham alongside about a dozen other volunteers for legislative and gubernatorial candidates. "It's a free-for-all," she said of the month-long campaign for the seat.
Campaign volunteers there and poll worker William Toll said turnout had been steady and appeared high. About 640 people had cast votes there by 11:30 this morning.
"There's been incredible voter turnout," said Pam Richardson, the Democratic-endorsed candidate for the seat, who went to the Hemenway School to greet voters. "I'm surprised at how quickly people have come to understand the process."
The Town Clerk's office has provided additional training for poll workers who will be reading and counting thousands of hand-written votes in the race tonight.
In addition to hot button political topics, the race has focused on who could best continue the legacy of Blumer, considered a progressive liberal who advocated for government benefits for immigrants and gay rights among other stands.
Dawn Harkness, an attorney and Town Meeting member, joined the race after the Democratic party selected Richardson.
"I feel (Harkness) is the most qualified out of the six candidates, and the most progressive," said Lee Mason, who held signs outside the Hemenway School supporting Harkness.
Also running are Republican Jim Rizoli, a staunch anti-illegal immigration activist, Republican Tom Tierney, an actuary, and independent Gerald Bloomfield, a retired engineer.