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As primary vote nears, many unsure who’s on ballot

Little focus on most races

Voters just don’t seem to know the Democrats and Republicans who are running for statewide office a week from today, sans one — governor.

EPA/File

Voters just don’t seem to know the Democrats and Republicans who are running for statewide office a week from today, sans one — governor.

There are four candidates for lieutenant governor, three for attorney general, four for treasurer, and two for auditor running in the upcoming Massachusetts primary election.

Can you name them?

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“I can’t remember.”

“I don’t know.”

“No.”

From Brookline to Braintree to Boston, voters just don’t seem to know the Democrats and Republicans who are running for statewide office a week from today, sans one — governor. Talk to more than a dozen people; you get more than a dozen blank stares.

Of 605 voters who were polled recently by the Globe, 74 percent said they were uncertain for whom to cast their ballot in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, and 60 percent were undecided in the race for treasurer.

‘I do know quite a bit about the Maura Healey and Tolman race. I’m familiar with that treasurer candidate, Deb? Deb? Deb? Deb Goldberg. I’ve seen her commercials. Auditor? No.’ — Benjamin Perkins,at a Jamaica Plain coffee shop

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There was a bit more clarity among voters about which of the two Democrats vying to be attorney general – Maura Healey and Warren Tolman – would receive their vote on Sept. 9, as only 40 percent were undecided about this contest. (Republican John Miller is running in an uncontested primary.)

“I do know quite a bit about the Maura Healey and Tolman race,” said Benjamin Perkins, 49, as he grabbed a cup of coffee and answered e-mails at a Jamaica Plain coffee shop one morning last week. “I’m familiar with that treasurer candidate, Deb? Deb? Deb? Deb Goldberg. I’ve seen her commercials. Auditor? No.”

For the record, Goldberg is in a three-way Democratic primary contest for treasurer, along with state Senator Barry Finegold and state Representative Tom Conroy; the winner will face Republican Mike Heffernan.

In the race for state auditor, Democratic incumbent Suzanne Bump and Republican Patricia S. Saint Aubin are each running in uncontested primaries.

RELATED | Evan Horowitz: The primaries are coming. Is anyone paying attention?

The Democratic race for lieutenant governor features Leland Cheung, Steve Kerrigan, and Michael Lake; the lone Republican candidate is Karyn Polito.

There will also be a race in November for secretary of state, with incumbent Democrat William F. Galvin facing Republican David D’Arcangelo. Both are unopposed in their primaries.

Perkins said he is familiar with the race to replace Attorney General Martha Coakley (who is running for governor) only because a representative from an antidiscrimination group approached his husband several months ago asking the couple to support Healey, a lesbian with support from women’s and gay rights groups.

“So it was off to the races,” he said. “Usually, historically, I’ve only been keyed into the bigger races because I only have so much bandwidth.”

Housing activist James Brooks said the only down-ballot candidate he was really familiar with is Healey’s opponent, Tolman — but not necessarily because he supports him.

“His ad has been playing a lot,” the 69-year-old organizer with City Life/Vida Urbana, a Jamaica Plain housing advocacy group, said while waiting for its weekly meeting to begin. “If there are other ones, I can’t remember the names.”

Brooks said he tries to pay attention to the political landscape, watching candidates’ television commercials and attending forums where candidates are asked questions on key issues, including affordable housing. But this time around, he said, few candidates have true name recognition.

“I just think this is one of those election years that seems really low key,” he said. “Can you name anyone in the treasurer’s race?”

Marie McMahon can’t. She also cannot name the candidates running for attorney general or auditor, the 40-year-old said as she walked along Harvard Street in Brookline, rushing to get her dog to remedial obedience classes.

“I’m waiting until right before the election to do some cramming,” she said.

“Honestly,” said Cindy Nguyen, of Brookline. “I feel like I don’t know enough about the position of auditor and treasurer to feel like I should have an opinion.”

The 39-year-old said she plans to read up on the ballot questions before Election Day in November and research the gubernatorial candidates — “I just know Martha Coakley and Charlie Baker” — but remains uncommitted to the rest of the ballot.

“I’m so bad,” she said. “I’m so bad.”

Ed Dornig said the fault in all of this lies with the candidates, who should be doing more to increase their visibility and share their message with voters.

“You know, the ads aren’t there,” the 72-year-old said, sitting alone as his 15-year-old daughter and wife shopped in South Shore Plaza in Braintree. “I would think I would be a little more familiar with these guys.”

He’s looking for candidates with long political resumes, saying he values the experience it brings.

“Like Warren Tolman is a guy I would sit down with and have coffee with,” said Dornig, who considers himself conservative Democrat. “He’s been in the news for years. I don’t like some of his positions, but I could I live with him.”

Tolman is a former state legislator who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2002 and lieutenant governor in 1998, but Dornig seems to remember Tolman most from his days as a political analyst on the Fox 25 morning show.

But despite Dornig’s familiarity with Tolman’s name, his candidacy momentarily slipped the Medfield resident’s mind.

“Now,” he asked, “he’s going for governor?”

Akilah Johnson can be reached at akilah.johnson@globe.com.
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