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DiDomenico edges Flaherty in Senate primary

Posted by Your Town  April 13, 2010 09:58 PM

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Everett City Councilor Sal DiDomenico won a Democratic primary for a state Senate seat and political newcomer Peter Smulowitz won the party primary for a second Senate seat in two special elections held Tuesday to fill open seats.

In two razor thin contests, DiDomenico topped a crowded, six candidate field by just 135 votes in the Middlesex, Suffolk, Essex district, and Smulowitz beat state Rep. Lida Harkins by about 200 votes in the Norfolk, Bristol, Middlesex district, according to unofficial tallies.

DiDomenico is all but certain to capture the seat, since there is no serious Republican opposition. Smulowitz faces Republican Rep. Richard Ross in a May 11 general election.

Timothy R. Flaherty, one of DiDomenico's opponents, said tonight he would contest the results and ask for an investigation into what he said were voter irregularities.

DiDomenico would replace state Sen. Anthony Galluccio, who resigned earlier this year after he was jailed for failing a breath alcohol test. The Middlesex, Suffolk, Essex district comprises all of Everett and Chelsea as well as parts of Cambridge, Somerville, Revere, Saugus, and Boston.

Smulowitz, an emergency room physician, bested Harkins, a state representative from Needham and former majority whip, by winning in 11 of the 12 towns in the Norfolk, Bristol, Middlesex district. Harkins won an overwhelming victory in Needham, the hometown both candidates share.

Smulowitz received 3,806 votes to Harkins’ 3,666, by unofficial tally.

Harkins conceded to Smulowitz last night and said there would be no recount.

“I want to thank all of you,” she said standing before a crowd of supporters in Needham. “It’s been a rough, tough campaign. Despite any negativity, I’m proud of the 21 years I’ve been in office… I look forward to the next chapter of my life. It will be nice to have a few weekends off.”

As she spoke, her supporters yelled out for a recount, but Harkins said there would not be one.

“Peter Smulowitz won,” she said. “We congratulated him and we’ll move on.”

The campaign turned bitter in recent weeks after Smulowitz blasted Harkins for receiving contributions from scandal-ridden former House speakers that she served under.

Smulowitz argued that Harkins should have returned campaign contributions she received from past House speakers, Charles Flaherty, Thomas Finneran, and Sal DiMasi, all of whom left office amid political scandals. In mailings, Smulowitz accused Harkins of taking money from “corrupt politicians.’’

Harkins responded by saying Smulowitz was engaging in “gutter politics.’’

Although Smulowitz later apologized after it became clear that his campaign had misstated some of the donation amounts, he stood by the argument that Harkins should have returned the contributions. Harkins acknowledged receiving money from Flaherty and Finneran but never received any contributions directly form DiMasi.

Harkins, 66, has served in the state Legislature since 1989, and was majority whip from 2001 to 2008. Smulowitz, 33, is an emergency room physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center -Boston.

The state Senate district includes Millis, Needham, Norfolk, North Attleborough, Plainville, Sherborn, Wayland and Wrentham, as well as parts of Franklin, Wellesley, Attleboro, and Natick.

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