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Primaries set the field for general election

Posted by dinouye  September 7, 2012 09:29 AM

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The fight to fill the House seat held by Barney Frank seat will pit Sean Bielat, a Republican who challenged Frank two years ago, against Democrat Joseph P. Kennedy III after both won party primaries on Thursday.

Click here for complete results from Thursday's primary elections.

The race for the Fourth Congressional District, which stretches sought from Bookline to the Rhode Island border, was one of a handful of congressional primaries in the state that set the field for the November election. In two contested Democratic primaries, Representatives William R. Keating of Bourne and Richard E. Neal of Springfield both defeated challengers.

In the newly constituted Eight Congressional district, Representative Stephen F. Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, was unopposed on Thursday. The Eighth runs from South Boston along the coast to Scituate and inland to Bridgewater.

In November, he will face Joe Selvaggi, a Navy veteran who helped launch Plaster Fun Time, which hosts birthday parties and events for children. Selvaggi racked up nearly 60 percent of the vote in defeating Matt Temperley in the primary.

Secretary of State William F. Galvin said turnout statewide was not expected to top 15 percent because only a few races were hotly contested. In addition, the election was not held on the traditional Tuesday, to avoid a conflict with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

Many of the primary races were overshadowed by the far more prominent battle between Senator Scott Brown, a Republican, and Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, which will be decided in November.

The national parties all but ignored the congressional primaries that were decided on Thursday, instead focusing their resources on the general election fight between Richard R. Tisei, a Republican, and Representative John F. Tierney, a Salem Democrat.

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Click to contact candidates or elected officials about this issue. Bielat, a 37-year-old officer in the Marine Corps Reserve, will begin the general election at a steep financial disadvantage. According to the most recent fundraising reports, he had just $63,000 cash on hand, compared to Kennedy’s $1.96 million.

But Bielat will undoubtedly try to use Kennedy’s name to raise money from Republican donors nationwide, as he did when he ran against Frank, another bête noire of the right. Whether he can count on support from the GOP establishment is another question.

Not only is the national party focused on Tisei’s race, but several prominent Republicans, including former governor William F. Weld, waded into the primary to endorse one of Bielat’s opponents, Elizabeth Childs, a Brookline psychiatrist who served as mental health commissioner in the Romney administration.

Weld recorded an automated phone call for Childs in which he praised her as a social moderate and fiscal conservative, not unlike himself. But in a Republican primary that draws partisan voters, Childs faced doubts about her allegiance to the party.

A former Democrat, she first registered as a Republican in July 2011, just before declaring her intention to run in the GOP primary for Frank’s seat. Bielat, by contrast, had more name recognition and goodwill among Republicans after mounting an aggressive but ultimately unsuccessful race against Frank, the liberal stalwart from Newton.

The third candidate in the Republican primary, David L. Steinhof, a Fall River dentist, emphasized his conservative values but never gained traction after struggling to raise money and build a credible campaign.

Kennedy, a 31-year-old former prosecutor from Brookline, rolled to victory in the Democratic primary for Frank’s seat. He beat Rachel Brown, a follower of Lyndon Larouche who warned that President Obama was leading the world toward thermonuclear war, and Herb Robinson, a little-known musician and engineer from Newton.

“I got into this race because I believe this country was built on a simple promise: that each of us deserves a fair shot,” Kennedy said in a statement. “Nothing extra, nothing excessive – just the chance to make the most out of their own talent and hard work.”

Keating, who was elected to Congress two years ago, defeated C. Samuel Sutter, the Bristol district attorney, who struggled to differentiate himself from the incumbent.

Both Sutter and Keating support abortion rights and same-sex marriage, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and the restoration of a federal assault weapons ban. But Sutter argued Keating has not been a zealous advocate for the district, particularly its beleaguered fishing industry. Keating, a former state senator, countered that Sutter lacked the legislative experience needed to deliver results in Washington.

In November, Keating will face the winner of the Republican primary between business consultant Christopher Sheldon, 34, of Plymouth, and financial services manager Adam Chaprales, 28, of Barnstable. The results of that race were too close to call as of 10 p.m.

Neal, a 12-term Democrat from Springfield, parlayed his years of experience into a decisive victory in his Democratic primary. He beat Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr, the register of deeds for the Berkshire Middle District, and Bill Shein, a writer from Alford.

Nuciforo, a former state senator from Pittsfield, had argued Neal was beholden to Wall Street interests. Shein ran as a campaign finance reformer and political outsider.

But Neal, who serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and has delivered millions of federal dollars to the district, contended his stature in Congress is vital to the economic health of the region. He will be unopposed in the general election in November.

Representative Niki Tsongas, a Lowell Democrat, was unopposed in her party’s primary. She will likely face a rematch in November against Jonathan A. Golnik, a Carlisle Republican, who challenged Tsongas two years ago. As of 10 p.m.Golnik held a wide lead in his Republican primary against Thomas J.M. Weaver, a nuclear engineer from Westford.

Golnik lacks Tsongas’ financial support and, like other Republican challengers, faces a built-in disadvantage in November, when Democrats are expected to flock to the polls to support Obama.

Nevertheless, Golnik has vowed a spirited race. If elected, he promises to repeal Obama’s health care law, and cut corporate tax rates.

In other races, Representative James P. McGovern, the Worcester Democrat, won his Democratic primary by defeating William Feegbeh. He will be unopposed in November.

Representative Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat, was unopposed in the Democratic primary and will face the winner of a three-way Republican primary.

Stephanie Ebbert of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.

Michael Levenson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.

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