BOSTON (AP) — Voters in Massachusetts’ 5th Congressional District primaries took the first step Tuesday toward filling the U.S. House seat that became vacant when Edward Markey moved to the Senate.
Seven Democrats and three Republicans vied for their respective party nominations, and the state’s top elections official predicted a strong voter turnout in the district, with as many as 120,000 Democrats and 20,000 Republicans casting ballots in the primary elections.
The district stretches from Winthrop and Revere along the coast to communities north and west of Boston including Waltham, Framingham and Medford.
The Democratic candidates include Belmont state Sen. William Brownsberger, Melrose state Sen. Katherine Clark, Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, former Lexington school committeeman Martin Long, Stoneham resident Paul John Maisano, Ashland state Sen. Karen Spilka and Medford state Rep. Carl Sciortino.
The three Republicans are Boston attorney Frank Addivinola; Michael Stopa, a Harvard scientist from Holliston; and Tom Tierney, a veteran from Framingham.
The election was playing out amid voter frustration over the federal government’s partial shutdown. The Democrats in the race have blamed the impasse on House Republicans who they say are using the shutdown to try to force a delay or changes in the federal health care law. The GOP candidates say blame should also be pinned on the unwillingness of supporters of the law to negotiate.
Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said the focus on Congress, although largely negative, could still have the effect of drumming up interest in the special primary election.
He also cited the large amount of money spent on advertising in what is a relatively small district geographically.
‘‘You have multiple candidates working a more concentrated area,’’ Galvin said Monday. ‘‘I think that’s going to stimulate a bigger turnout,’’ he said.
Koutoujian held the fundraising edge among the candidates, with more than $690,000 left in cash in his account at the end of September. Clark was next with about $393,000 in her account, including $250,000 of her own money.
Many voters in the district have never known a congressman other than Markey, who served 37 years in the House before winning a special election in June to fill the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Poll were to close at 8 p.m. Tuesday. The winners will compete in a special election Dec. 10.