Metro

Berwick says he’ll make gubernatorial primary ballot

With all but a handful of the Democratic caucuses completed, former federal health care administrator Don Berwick claimed Monday he had secured a sufficient number of delegates to reach the gubernatorial primary ballot — a boast that other campaigns privately doubted.

Also Monday, Juliette Kayyem, a former homeland security official and Globe columnist, said she had placed second in the caucuses, another assertion that rival campaigns questioned. All five campaigns agreed that Treasurer Steven Grossman had finished the clear winner.

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Attorney General Martha Coakley’s campaign, too, said she had grabbed enough delegates to qualify. Her campaign manager, Tim Foley, said in an e-mail, “We have earned more than the 15% of delegates we need to get on the ballot.”

Official counts for delegate totals do not exist, and even the various campaigns’ internal numbers are considered fluid. A plurality of delegates, strategists from different campaigns agreed, remain uncommitted.

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In order to get on the primary ballot, candidates must garner 15 percent of the delegates’ votes at the state convention.

But the pool of delegates elected through party caucuses, which are nearing completion, only accounts for about two-thirds of the roughly 5,500 total delegates. It does not include “add-ons,” which, under party rules, include elected officials and representatives from interest groups and constituencies like young and disabled people.

Berwick’s campaign said its internal figures showed he had garnered the backing of “approximately 20 percent of elected delegates.”

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Privately, strategists in other Democratic campaigns doubted the Berwick claim. Even if the number were accurate, it would not qualify him, on its own, for the ballot, party officials said. He would require some additional support from the add-on delegates.

But a Berwick spokesman said the campaign had locked up enough backing already.

“If the vote happened today, we would make it,” said Leigh Appleby.

In a Democratic primary field collectively racing to garner the enthusiasm of liberal party activists, Berwick has carved out a niche as a favorite among left-leaning delegates. He supports single-payer health care, in which government rather than private firms would provide health insurance, and wants the state to adopt a “fair tax approach” with a graduated income tax, and to to close tax loopholes that he said could reap “billions.”

In a fundraising e-mail, Kayyem stopped shy of saying she had piled up enough delegate support to reach the ballot, but said her campaign would continue to scoop up add-on delegates.

“Because of you we took second place at the caucuses and we are on our way to 15” percent, Kayyem said in her e-mail.

Biotechnology executive Joseph Avellone has trailed in most delegate counts, but claims to be running strongly in fiscally moderate, urban enclaves.

“We did very well at the caucuses,” an Avellone campaign spokeswoman said. “We are very confident that we will be on the ballot.”

All but four of the party caucuses have been completed, with scattered delays due to weather. Democratic Party executive director Matt Fenlon said caucuses in Bolton, Auburn, Royalston, and Groveland were postponed.

Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at Jim.OSullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JOSreports.
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