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September 6, 2012

O'Connor Ives wins Democratic Senate primary

The crowded field vying for state Senate has been thinned considerably by voters, with Democrats delivering a surprising win for Newburyport's underdog candidate.

Thursday's primary saw Newburyport Democrat Kathleen O'Connor Ives win her party's nomination.

With all precincts reporting except Merrimac, O'Connor Ives, a Newburyport City Council, won 3,882 votes. Timothy Coco of Haverhill won 3,320, and placing last was former Methuen mayor Bill Manzi, with 3,155.

The results in the Democratic primary were a political shocker in established Democratic political circles. Manzi, the former mayor of the district's second largest city and a longtime activist in Democratic circles, had raised far more money than his two rivals. Also, Manzi had locked up the endorsements of several prominent Democrats, among them Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday, and former Sen. Steve Baddour, who resigned from the seat in March.

The district, which stretches from Newburyport to Methuen, has its greatest concentration of voters in Methuen and Haverhill. In past years, the nomination has tended to go to candidates from either of those cities. Newburyport is one of the smallest communities in the district.

One of his endorsements proved to be controversial, at least in Newburyport. Manzi was endorsed by IBEW Local 103, a union that for months had conducted pickets and protests against Anna Jaques Hospital for its decision to not hire a union shop to do electrical work on its recent expansion. The union's tactics won it widespread criticism and scorn in Newburyport. O'Connor Ives criticized Manzi for accepting the union's endorsement.

The primary sets the stage for the Nov. 6 general election.

Ives will face independent candidates Paul Maglioccehetti of Haverhill and Jim Kelcourse of Amesbury. As of the posting of this news article, it was not yet clear who had won the Republican primary.

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