Jake Auchincloss wins Democratic primary for Kennedy’s House seat in Massachusetts

Jake Auchincloss, a 32-year-old formerly registered Republican, won a tough nine-way Democratic primary to likely succeed the outgoing Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy.

a person standing posing for the camera: Candidate for Congress Jake Auchincloss stands for a portrait while he campaigns outside of the Newton Free Library for the Democratic nomination for the fourth Congressional District in Newton, MA on Aug. 22, 2020.

© Erin Clark/The Boston Globe/Getty Images
Candidate for Congress Jake Auchincloss stands for a portrait while he campaigns outside of the Newton Free Library for the Democratic nomination for the fourth Congressional District in Newton, MA on Aug. 22, 2020.

The Marine veteran and Newton city councilor ran as an “Obama-Baker” Democrat, referring to the former president and current popular Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, describing himself as someone who could lead during a time of crisis. He beat, among others, Jesse Mermell, a progressive Democrat endorsed by Rep. Ayanna Pressley and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and overcame the opposition of a group affiliated with EMILY’s List, which aims to elect women supportive of abortion rights.

Mermell and other top contenders conceded the race after Tuesday’s vote.

The seat for the district, which includes parts of the Boston suburbs and southern Massachusetts, became open after Kennedy launched a primary campaign against Democratic Sen. Ed Markey. The senator won on Tuesday by positioning himself as the progressive champion.

But the state’s 4th Congressional District went with Auchincloss over more liberal challengers like Mermell, who supports single-payer health care and the Green New Deal. Auchincloss supports a public health care option and other measures to address climate change. He received The Boston Globe’s endorsement after saying he would prioritize “federal relief for local budgets” to help the state provide education services and improve its infrastructure.

The race was marked not only by the top two candidates’ ideological clash but also by the difficulties of voting during the coronavirus pandemic. Debra O’Malley, spokesperson for Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin, told CNN more than 3,000 ballots were not initially counted, which potentially could have changed the outcome of the race.

O’Malley said that the majority ballots that were found, from Franklin, went uncounted due to an “oversight of the Franklin town clerk.” She said the secretary of state’s office “will be heavily involved in many towns to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” The other ballots that the secretary’s office found, from Newton and Wellesley, hadn’t been counted because they came from dropboxes where voters were submitted ballots “at the last minute,” according to O’Malley, and which weren’t sent to be counted in time.

Massachusetts law was changed to allow votes to be counted up to three days after Election Day in November, but that change didn’t take effect in time for the primary. As a result, the secretary of state’s office secured a court order that allowed those ballots found to be counted after Election Day.

O’Malley said that the ballots “did not change the order of the candidates,” and Auchincloss’ opponents have conceded, but said her office “will be heavily involved in many towns to make sure it doesn’t happen again” this fall.

In Mermell’s concession on Friday, she congratulated Auchincloss on his victory. Auchincloss thanked her and

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Jake Auchincloss wins Massachusetts primary for Kennedy’s House seat

Jake Auchincloss has won the Massachusetts Democratic primary in the race to fill the House seat being vacated by Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D).

a man wearing a blue shirt: Jake Auchincloss wins Massachusetts primary for Kennedy's House seat

© Facebook: Jake Auchincloss
Jake Auchincloss wins Massachusetts primary for Kennedy’s House seat

The race was called early Friday morning by The Associated Press. Auchincloss, a moderate Democrat, won the crowded primary with less than 23 percent of the vote.

Auchincloss, a Newton city councilor and Marine veteran, came out in front of a crowded field of primary candidates in the state’s 4th Congressional District, which Kennedy vacated so he could wage a primary challenge against Sen. Ed Markey (D).

Markey defeated Kennedy in the Senate primary on Tuesday night.

Auchincloss will be heavily favored to win the southern Massachusetts district this November, where Kennedy ran unopposed in 2018.

Kennedy’s announcement last year that he would not seek reelection to the House so he could run for the Senate sparked a tidal wave of Democrats looking to replace him in the lower chamber.

Auchincloss has made federal aid to local schools during the coronavirus pandemic a priority of his campaign and has said he would work to expand the Affordable Care Act if elected.

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Jake Auchincloss Wins Massachusetts Primary for Joe Kennedy’s House Seat

Jake Auchincloss, a moderate Democrat and local city councilor who was a registered Republican as recently as President Barack Obama’s second term, has won Tuesday’s nine-way Democratic primary in Massachusetts’s Fourth Congressional District to become the likely successor to the outgoing Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III.

Mr. Auchincloss won the highly fragmented race with less than 23 percent of the vote, The Associated Press reported early Friday morning, beating the second-place finisher, Jesse Mermell, a progressive endorsed by Representative Ayanna Pressley, by just over 2,000 votes.

The seat, which includes areas in the Boston metropolitan region like Brookline as well as towns to the south, opened unexpectedly after Mr. Kennedy decided to mount a primary challenge to Senator Edward J. Markey, who prevailed on Tuesday in one of the country’s most bitter intraparty fights.

In Mr. Auchincloss, 32, Massachusetts is replacing a scion of a political dynasty with another descendant of the political upper crust. His family tree includes Jackie Kennedy and Gore Vidal. Mr. Auchincloss is currently a city councilor in Newton, and did not shy away from his Republican past, tying himself to the state’s Republican governor, Charlie Baker.

The race was shaped by several small controversies. Mr. Auchincloss apologized for old statements on social media that seemed to justify the burning of the Quran. He also mocked efforts by a local community to rename Columbus Day “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in 2016.

And yet, while Mr. Auchincloss trailed candidates in the Boston suburbs, he consolidated support in the heavily Democratic district’s southern regions. There, he cast himself in the image of Mr. Baker, the popular governor who has distanced himself from national Republicans such as President Trump.

“I’m honored that the people of #MA04 have chosen me as the Democratic nominee for Congress,” he said on Twitter. “My deepest gratitude goes out to the voters who placed their confidence in my capacity to drive progress — and to the volunteers and supporters who shared our message across their cities and towns.”

Mr. Auchincloss, who is expected to defeat the Republican nominee, Julie Hall, in November, is set to join an all-Democratic congressional delegation in Massachusetts that has a foothold in several of the party’s most important factions.

Mr. Markey remains in the ranks of progressives such as Senator Elizabeth Warren and Ms. Pressley. There are moderates who earn the ire of the party’s left, such as Representatives Stephen Lynch and Richard Neal — who both easily held their seats on Tuesday. Representative Katherine Clark is often tipped as a future member of the party’s congressional leadership and Seth Moulton, a former presidential candidate who easily won re-election, is just 41.

Most of the delegation had stayed clear of the race in the fourth district, except Ms. Pressley — who endorsed her former colleague and close confidant, Jesse Mermell. Ms. Mermell was the closest rival to Mr. Auchincloss, and earned the endorsements of progressive groups and leaders such as the Working Families Party and the Massachusetts attorney general, Maura

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