By Brian Messenger
---- — HAVERHILL — Local Democrats rallied for state Senate candidate Kathleen O’Connor Ives Saturday on Bradford Common in a show of unity that featured endorsements from the two candidates she upset in Thursday’s primary election.
Former Methuen Mayor William Manzi and Haverhill businessman Tim Coco were both on hand to throw their support behind O’Connor Ives, who earned the Democratic nomination in the 1st Essex Senate district previously represented by Steven Baddour, D-Methuen.
Baddour resigned from the state Senate in April. The district runs from Methuen east along the Merrimack River, and includes Haverhill, Merrimac, Amesbury, Salisbury, Newburyport and four precincts in North Andover.
A Newburyport city councilor, O’Connor Ives finished with 4,028 votes in Thursday’s primary, besting Coco (3,324) and Manzi (3,292). She will face Republican Shaun Toohey and independents Paul Magliocchetti and James Kelcourse in the Nov. 6 general election.
About 60 people were on hand to hear O’Connor Ives and others speak yesterday in what was dubbed a “Democratic unity event.”
“This is a really important juncture for us,” O’Connor Ives told the crowd. “I need the help of you and I need the strength of my peers — Bill Manzi and Tim Coco — to win this election.”
Coco asked those in the audience to get their friends and neighbors involved in the campaign.
“Kathleen shares my values,” said Coco. “She shares the values of all Democrats. She shares the values of great Americans. ... We need someone like Kathleen O’Connor Ives in the state Senate.”
Manzi said Republicans including Toohey, a Haverhill School Committeman, are out of touch with middle class values.
“This is going to be a difficult election,” said Manzi. “This is an election about real differences and about preserving the middle class.”
O’Connor Ives thanked Manzi and Coco for running “positive campaigns focused on ideas.” She touted her own experience as city councilor with a track record of consensus building and getting things done.
O’Connor Ives said she has a “sincere commitment” to solving problems in the region and said she will work to lower the cost of health care and create jobs by investing in infrastructure and local community development projects.
“We have to talk about the issues that matter to the hardworking people of the Merrimack Valley,” said O’Connor Ives. “I want to be the next state senator to work for people here.”
A host of other politicians and candidates spoke Saturday, including U.S. Rep Niki Tsongas, D-Lowell, Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh, state Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen, and state Rep. Michael Costello, D-Newburyport.
Costello said the 1st Essex Senate seat is important because the region’s House delegation relies on their senator to help them get things done on Beacon Hill.
Costello also noted O’Connor Ives’ strong primary showing in Newburyport, where she won by a roughly 1,500-vote margin.
Manzi won Methuen by more than 1,100 votes and Coco took Haverhill by about 1,100 votes. O’Connor Ives finished third in both cities.
“We need your help in Haverhill and Methuen,” Costello told the crowd yesterday. “We need Democrats to come out strong.”
Of the five candidates to run in Thursday’s 1st Essex state Senate primaries, O’Connor Ives finished first with 4,028 votes. Toohey, who took 66 percent of the vote over Haverhill’s Sam Meas to win the Republican nomination, finished second overall with 3,881 votes.
Independent candidate James Kelcourse is an Amesbury city councilor. Fellow independent Paul Magliocchetti serves alongside Toohey on the Haverhill School Committee.