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The Political Trail

A long climb to Beacon Hill

For Galluccio, persistence brings payday in Senate race

'I always felt Cambridge voters would look at my record and where I've been on the issues, and it would fall into place.' 'I always felt Cambridge voters would look at my record and where I've been on the issues, and it would fall into place.' (FILE/THE BOSTON GLOBE)

In the end, the talk that voter doubts about his progressive credentials could sink Anthony Galluccio in his home base in Cambridge was just talk. He cleaned up in the People's Republic.

Voters also appeared to ignore an effort to cast a shadow over his candidacy with reminders of two past drunken-driving convictions and a 2005 auto accident of disputed cause.

In the end, it wasn't even close, as Galluccio, a seven-term Cambridge city councilor and indefatigable campaigner, swamped his three opponents in last week's special Democratic primary for the state Senate seat recently vacated by Jarrett Barrios.

Galluccio racked up more than 40 percent of the vote in the low-turnout election. He outpaced his nearest competitor, Chelsea City Councilor Paul Nowicki, by more than 1,500 votes in the race across the Middlesex-Suffolk-Essex district, which snakes its way from Allston-Brighton through a chunk of Cambridge, Charlestown, a corner of Somerville, and Chelsea to Everett, and parts of Saugus and Revere.

If Galluccio had to run something of a gantlet on his way to victory, taking some hits and pressing ahead is hardly a fresh challenge for the 40-year-old pol. It has practically defined his time in public office.

Galluccio, who has long championed schools and children's issues, had a message for young people when he addressed a crowd of several hundred supporters at his Tuesday night victory party.

"Any kids that are out there, please listen to me," he said. "You're going to be up, you're going to be down, you're going to be in the middle. Just keep coming."

It was as much an account of his story as it was a call for young people to persevere and be the authors of their own stories. Galluccio landed a seat on the Cambridge City Council in 1994, moving into a vacancy as the runner-up in the 1993 election.

From that lesson in how you can end up a winner even when you lose, Galluccio went on to wage no less than four failed campaigns for a seat in the Legislature before finally hitting pay dirt last week. (With no Republican seeking the seat, Galluccio is virtually assured of election in next month's final.)

Galluccio landed on the council during an era when Cambridge was bitterly divided over the issue of rent control, with the first-term councilor, then 26, a forceful voice in the anti-rent control camp. That issue has faded from prominence since rent control was abolished by a 1994 statewide referendum.

Since that time, he has worked to convince Cambridge progressives he is one of them, burnishing his liberal credentials on everything from support for gay marriage rights to environmental issues.

Despite all Galluccio's efforts, there was talk that he could lose liberal Cambridge voters to Tim Flaherty, son of former House speaker Charlie Flaherty, who racked up a slew of newspaper endorsements, but finished third in the race.

"I knew it wouldn't stick," Galluccio says of the buzz that voters in the Cambridge precincts of the Senate district would shun him in favor of Flaherty. "I always felt Cambridge voters would look at my record and where I've been on the issues, and it would fall into place."

He beat Flaherty nearly 2-to-1 in Cambridge, topping the primary field in every community in the district except for Chelsea, which hometown favorite Nowicki carried.

As for the 11 years and four losing legislative campaigns he endured before reaching his goal of moving up to the State House, Galluccio says, "In some ways, I think maybe it was meant to take this long. The voters across the district were very familiar with me. It wasn't a last-minute slogan or mailing piece. It was really confidence and faith in me as a candidate and a person."

Michael Jonas can be reached at jonas@globe.com.

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