State Representative Michael A. Costello of Newburyport is supporting John Edwards's presidential bid, calling the former North Carolina senator "the only one talking about working families and the middle class in the race."
"I like his urban populist agenda," Lynn Mayor Edward J. Clancy Jr. said. "I think a guy like Edwards would be good for the cities."
A Globe survey of area mayors, state legislators, members of Congress, and other officeholders found 19 backing candidates, including seven for Edwards, six for Hillary Rodham Clinton, three for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, two for former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, and one for Illinois Senator Barack Obama.
Another 25 of the elected leaders contacted remain undecided - although three said they are leaning toward Clinton - as the race for the White House moves into full throttle with today's Iowa caucuses.
State Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein of Revere favors Clinton, saying the New York senator is ready to "roll up her sleeves and cross party lines and get the job done."
State Representative Brad Hill, an Ipswich Republican, backs Romney, citing the "leadership skills he showed me during the time he was working with the Legislature."
Many of the area politicians who have taken sides in the race said they planned to stump for their candidates, notably in New Hampshire, which holds its first-in-the-nation primary Tuesday.
Other Democrats in the Edwards camp include state representatives John D. Keenan of Salem and Steven M. Walsh of Lynn, Malden Mayor Richard C. Howard, Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett of Peabody, and Middlesex Sheriff James V. DiPaola of Malden.
"I think overall his platform is one that is geared to communities that have a demographic makeup similar to ours in Malden, which is families that are working-class, doing the best they can to improve life, especially for their children," Howard said.
Blodgett said he thinks Edwards is a good choice from a practical standpoint since the only Democrats elected president recently have been from the South.
"I like his populist message. And taking on some of the big power brokers in Washington is a healthy thing," Blodgett said.
Keenan said his support for Edwards also was based in part on "who can possibly win this race." And he is compelled by Edwards's message "regarding corporate greed and the fact that the American dream is getting more difficult to attain."
Walsh likes Edwards's healthcare plan, which he said "is most like what we've tried to do in the Commonwealth."
Like Hill, House Minority Leader Brad Jones of North Reading and Essex Sheriff Frank G. Cousins Jr. of Newburyport are in Romney's corner.
Jones noted the opportunity he had to work with Romney when he was governor, and said: "I like his mix of government experience, his experience with the Olympics, and his experience in the private sector. I think that's the right skill set" needed to "lead the nation."
"I think he'd do a good job," Cousins said. "I think he did a good job with our state. He's got good experience. He's been in the private sector before, and he did very well there."
Steven Baddour, a state senator from Methuen who represents Haverhill, Newburyport, Amesbury, Merrimac, and Salisbury, said he supports Clinton.
"As the father of two young girls, I think it would be great for them to see a woman finally in that office, to shatter that ceiling once and for all," said Baddour, who also called Clinton "the smartest and toughest and most experienced person" in the race, someone "who is going to put things back on track."
Other Democrats backing Clinton include Suffolk Sheriff Andrea J. Cabral of Boston, state Senator Anthony W. Petruccelli of East Boston, state Representative Barbara A. L'Italien of Andover, and state Representative Theodore C. Speliotis of Danvers.
"There's no doubt in my mind she's a woman of remarkable intellect and depth, and I think that her leadership skills are unparalleled among the other candidates," Cabral said.
"I think she obviously has a lot of character," Petruccelli said of Clinton. "She's been through a lot and she's held her head high. She's got a really professional way about her."
State Representatives Robert F. Fennell of Lynn, Mary Grant of Beverly, and Joyce A. Spiliotis of Peabody said they were undecided, but leaning toward Clinton.
US Representative Carol Shea-Porter, a Rochester, N.H., Democrat, is supporting Obama. In a recent interview, she said the Illinois senator is "inspiring people to believe in this great country, and to believe that they'll be heard. . . . He's going to bring them to the polls, and what we are going to see is a renewed America under his leadership."
John Bell, who retired as Gloucester's mayor this week, also is an Obama supporter.
Two area Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Richard E. Tisei of Wakefield and Senate Assistant Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr of Gloucester, are two of the three cochairmen of Giuliani's campaign in Massachusetts.
"If you look at what he did while he was mayor of New York City, it's, as George Will said, one of the most successful episodes of conservative governance that has taken place in 50 years," Tisei said. "And I think that that is exactly what we need be doing right now in Washington."
"I think that his record as an executive under very difficult circumstances makes it clear he has what it takes to lead the country," Tarr said.