With less than a month before the special primary election in the Fifth District race to succeed Edward J. Markey in the US House of Representatives, the seven Democratic candidates and their campaigns ramped up activity in the heavily Democratic and mostly suburban district last week.
But even voters who didn’t leave their living rooms might have encountered congressional hopefuls making their pitch: At least two began running advertisements on local television stations last week. And both ads featured the candidate and his or her parent.
State Senator Katherine Clark became the first candidate in the race to hit the airwaves when she launched a 30-second spot on Tuesday featuring the Melrose resident and her mother, a campaign official said.
State Representative Carl M. Sciortino Jr. of Medford followed on Wednesday when he launched a 60-second TV ad starring him and his father.
Clark’s spot begins with her mother, Judy, speaking about taking an aptitude test in high school, “scoring off the charts” in engineering, and being told that, as a woman, she should look for another field.
“Some things barely change,” candidate Clark says in the ad. “Today the Republicans in Congress oppose equal pay for equal work, deny birth control. These extremists don’t believe women’s issues are family issues. You and I know they are.”
While Clark’s ad appears aimed at a specific demographic of voters, Sciortino’s spot, which uses good-natured repartee between him and his GOP-aligned father, seems to cast a wider net.
The ad begins in a living room with candidate Sciortino, who is openly gay.
“I’ll never forget that conversation with my dad,” he says. “where I had to come out and tell him —”
“Wait for this,” his father says.
“That I was a — Massachusetts liberal,” Sciortino Jr. says.
The banter continues as the two outline the representative’s legislative accomplishments on Beacon Hill, and what he would do if he were elected to Congress.
The ad, posted online Tuesday morning, went viral: it had 235,000 views on YouTube as of Thursday evening.
Another ad from Clark, this one featuring footage of her late grandmother, is set to begin soon, according to a campaign spokesman. In the new spot, she knocks Republicans in Congress for “opposing equal pay, denying access to family planning.”
It remains unclear how many of the other Democratic candidates will decide to launch efforts on TV before the Oct. 15 primary. Making and airing ads is expensive, and with limited resources in a low-profile congressional primary race, they may decide that other types of persuasion efforts will pay at the polls.
Online ads, knocking on doors, and sending campaign literature through the mail are often less expensive than getting an ad broadcast on TV.
The other Democrats running in the primary are Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian of Waltham; state Senators Karen Spilka of Ashland and Will Brownsberger of Belmont; Martin Long, an Arlington author; and Stoneham resident Paul John Maisano, who works in the construction industry.
There are three Republicans running in the primary: actuary Tom Tierney of Framingham, Harvard nanophysics researcher Mike Stopa of Holliston, and lawyer and busi-nessman Frank J. Addivinola Jr. of Boston.
The special general election to replace Markey, who was elected to the US Senate in June, is Dec. 10. The Fifth District runs from Winthrop to Woburn to Southborough to Holliston.
The increasing intensity of the race is reflected in another way: the Democratic candidates are preparing to take part in a number of forums. They provide the candidates with an opportunity to differentiate themselves from a field where many of the hopefuls share similar policy positions.
The forums often attract the most politically active voters, which means the candidates can make their pitch to people who are likely to show up at the polls in the middle of October — and might bring along friends and family.
The race to succeed Markey has not gotten a lot of news media attention, so the candidate gatherings, some of which will be televised, also offer visibility to the congressional hopefuls, though not every candidate has been invited to every forum.
While the details may change in the closing stretch of the campaign, these events were among the gatherings scheduled to take place over the next week:
Sunday: Candidate forum from 7 to 9 p.m. at Framingham State University’s Dwight Hall, moderated by Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman John Walsh and sponsored by the Democratic Town Committees of Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, Natick, Sherborn, Southborough, Sudbury, Wayland and Weston.
Monday: “Meet the Candidates” forum from 7 to 9 p.m. in Cary Hall at 1605 Massachusetts Ave. in Lexington, hosted by state Representative Jay Kaufman.
Thursday: Candidate forum on “Energy, the Environment and the Innovation Economy” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Arlington Town Hall at 730 Massachusetts Ave., hosted by a coalition of organizations, and moderated by Boston Globe reporter Erin Ailworth and Anne Kelly of Ceres, a Boston-based green investment coalition.
Next Sunday: Candidate forum from 2 to 4 p.m. at Wayland Middle School at 201 Main St. in Wayland, sponsored by the Leagues of Women Voters in Sudbury, Wayland, and Weston.
Vow of no partisan promises
Brownsberger, one of the seven Democrats running to join a House that is currently controlled by the GOP, said on Thursday he would eschew partisan promises so he could compromise if he were elected to succeed Markey in Congress.
He attributed some of Capitol Hill’s partisan gridlock to the hard-and-fast promises by candidates during campaigns.
He said in Republican areas, candidates promise that they will never raise taxes,under any circumstances and in Democratic areas candidates promise they will never cut social programs.
“Making those kinds of promises is a prescription for gridlock and an ever-increasing deficit,” Brownsberger said.