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Candidates Seek Labors' Support In Massachusetts Primaries


With just four days to go before Massachusetts voters go to the polls for the primary election, candidates looked for support today at the annual breakfast held by the Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council.

Two of the three Democratic candidates for governor, Don Berwick and Steve Grossman made personal appeals for organized labor’s support in Tuesday’s primary. The frontrunner, Martha Coakley, was not at the breakfast, which was attended by 300 union officials, activists, political operatives, and candidates.

State Treasurer Grossman highlighted his long ties to organized labor, first as the owner of a union-shop business and later as head of both the national and Massachusetts state Democratic party.

" I think showing up on the Friday before the election and thanking people for a lifetime of leadership and supporting the aspirations of working men and women is something important to do."

 He drew loud applause when he talked about his support for building casinos in Massachusetts.

But Grossman would not go as far as Attorney General Coakley, who has said she might move forward with an already approved casino in Springfield, if voters in November pass the referendum to repeal the state’s casino law.

"I could not support legislation to create a casino if the people say no. So, lets work to make sure we have casinos on the morning of Nov. 5. That to me is important," said Grossman.

Charlie Baker, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor, said he would file special legislation to build the Springfield casino, if the repeal referendum passes.

Grossman acknowledged he is trailing in the polls, but said he is undaunted, and is counting on the scores of endorsements he’s racked up from local elected officials to help turn out a big vote for him on Tuesday.

"I think there is always a lag time in polls. I think people will decide late who they are for. I think there will be a lot of moving around."

The last Boston Globe poll before the primary, published Friday, had Grossman trailing Coakley by 20 points.

Berwick, who has been stuck in third place in the polls, highlighted his support for a single-payer health care system and other progressive causes during his speech at the breakfast.

" I am not a politician.  I am an accomplished leader. I have worked on large-scale changes that have really helped people. I want to bring that competence to the governor's office, which really needs it."

 In an interview, he acknowledged his opposition to casinos won’t help him win labor votes.

" This is how I have campaigned and how I would govern. I am not going to just say what people want me to say because the winds blow that way. I am going to tell the truth as I see it," said Berwick.

Berwick also pointed out that he has campaigned frequently in western Massachusetts and promised to pay attention to the region if he becomes governor.

"People want to see the governor out here and know they can make their case. That is really crucial."

Warren Tolman appealed for labor’s help in his race against Maura Healey for the Democratic nomination for attorney general.  Many pundits say this is the most intriguing contest on Tuesday’s ballot.

The Globe poll Friday had Healey surging to a 13 point lead after polls for the last several months had portrayed the race as a dead heat.

Tolman secured endorsements this week from Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, the only endorsements either has given in the primaries.

" We feel pretty good about where we are and we feel good about our election day operation," said Tolman Friday.

The winner of the Democratic primary for attorney general will face Republican John Miller.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.
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