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Senator John Kerry makes rare endorsement in state Senate primary race

Posted by Brock Parker  August 17, 2012 12:54 PM

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In a rare endorsement for a state Democratic primary election, US Senator John Kerry has become the latest member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation to weigh in on a race to succeed state Senator Susan Fargo.

Kerry this week endorsed Joe Kearns Goodwin, an Army veteran from Concord, who is one of five Democrats seeking the party’s nomination in the primary election on Sept. 6.

US Congressmen Michael Capuano (D-Somerville) and Barney Frank (D-Newton) have also endorsed different candidates in the state Senate race.

“I’ve known Joe almost all of his life and I’ve seen up close the character and commitment he brings to life’s big decisions, whether it was volunteering to serve in the military or committing himself to the cause of public service when he came home,” Kerry said in a press release announcing his endorsement Kearns Goodwin. “He’s a tremendous advocate who brings courage and passion to this endeavor and I know he’s animated by the values that really make a difference in peoples’ lives.”

Jodi Seth, the communications director for Kerry, said the senator rarely endorses candidates in primary elections because of the number of friends he has in the Democratic Party and because he respects that voters like to make up their own minds and don’t need a push from anyone.

“But in this case, he’s known Joe almost his entire life, and grew particularly close to Joe in the days after 9/11 when Joe came to him to talk about his decision to volunteer for the military,” Seth said in an email.

Capuano has endorsed Mara Dolan, a social worker and public defender from Concord, and Frank has endorsed Michael Barrett, of Lexington, who was a state senator from Cambridge from 1987 to 1994, when he left the seat to run for governor and lost.

Also running for the Third Middlesex District state senate seat are Democrats Alex Buck, a Town Meeting member from Chelmsford, and Joe Mullin, a former selectman from Weston.

On the Republican side, Greg Howes, of Concord, and Sandi Martinez, of Chelmsford, are vying for their party's nomination. Fargo, D-Lincoln, announced in February that she would not seek re-election to the seat, which represents Bedford; Carlisle; Chelmsford; Concord; Lincoln; Waltham; Weston; precincts 3, 8, and 9 in Lexington; and precincts 1 and 4 and 5 in Sudbury.

Frank said Friday that it is rare for him to endorse a candidate in a state Senate primary election, but that is how highly he thinks of Barrett.

Before Frank was elected to Congress in 1980, he served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and during his last term he said he served alongside Barrett, then a state representative for Reading. Frank said he then followed Barrett's career in the state senate and was pleased to see he was running again.

“He was an excellent legislator,” Frank said of Barrett. “He’s a very effective advocate for progressive causes.”

Frank said he thinks the number of endorsements from the Massachusetts Congressional delegation in the state Senate race is because there are a lot of very good, high-powered candidates seeking the seat, which he said is not surprising.

“It’s a district that has a significant, sophisticated electorate,” Frank said.

Jon Lenicheck, a spokesman for Capuano, said the congressman has endorsed in state Senate races in the past, and he respects all of the candidates running to succeed Fargo.

“He feels strongly that Ms. Dolan is a long time advocate in her community who will work tirelessly to represent the residents of that district,” Lenicheck said.

Brock Parker can be reached at

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