Democratic congressional candidate Katherine M. Clark, facing three little-known opponents in a special election Tuesday, has all but disappeared from the campaign trail and has already been contacted by the US House clerk about a swearing-in Thursday.
Clark held one event Sunday and none Monday, as her campaign banked on her operation and the state’s Democratic machine turning out supporters for her Tuesday, when she is favored to win the seat that Edward J. Markey vacated this summer, when he was elected to the US Senate.
A state senator from Melrose, Clark is facing Frank J. Addivinola Jr., a Republican who has run for office three times and does not live in the district; James V. Aulenti, an independent, and James O. Hall of the Justice Peace Security Party.
Clark defended her low profile, saying she went to a holiday party with Framingham Democrats Sunday and spoke Monday to her volunteers, who have been working phone lines and walking through light snow to knock on doors for her.
“I have been greeting volunteers and thanking them for getting out there,” she said.
Addivinola has accused Clark of trying to slide into Congress without a serious debate or engagement with the broader electorate.
On Friday, the two met for their only televised debate, a 30-minute forum on NECN, much to the frustration of Addivinola, who said Clark turned down seven other opportunities to debate.
“She has the arrogance to think she will be anointed to this position,” he said.
A lawyer and former Melrose School Committee member, Clark emerged from a tough seven-way Democratic primary in October.
She is strongly favored to win Tuesday because the district, which runs from Woburn to Watertown and from Winthrop to Southborough, is heavily Democratic and favored President Obama over Mitt Romney by more than 30 percentage points in 2012.
Clark has also hauled in nearly $1.2 million in campaign contributions. Addivinola, her most active opponent, raised just $38,334 while loaning himself nearly $62,000. He received no financial help from either the state or national Republican parties.
Turnout is expected to be dismal Tuesday, perhaps just 10 percent, said Secretary of State William F. Galvin, who called it “the election that no one knows about.”
He blamed voter fatigue after a series of recent special elections, as well as the timing of the vote, in the midst of the holiday season.
“I don’t sense there’s any intensity in this race,” he said.
Clark acknowledged that she has been making plans for after the election.
She said that she was contacted recently by the House clerk’s office and told to “get to Washington quickly” for a swearing-in, possibly Thursday. Addivinola said the clerk’s office had called him, as well, and told him to be ready for a swearing-in later this week.
Hall said he had not received any such call from the clerk.
“Maybe they’re anticipating what the election is,” he said with a chuckle. “I would think Katherine is the overwhelming favorite.”
Clark would be just the fifth woman to represent Massachusetts in the US House. She has campaigned as a staunch liberal, determined to fight “extremist Republicans in Washington who are trying to turn the clock back on women’s rights.”
She said one of her first acts in Washington would be to cosponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would prohibit companies from retaliating against women who inquire about pay disparities and make it easier for women to sue for damages in cases of discrimination.
Clark has also promised to defend abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act.
Addivinola, a lawyer, has said he opposes abortion rights and wants to repeal the federal health care law.
“I have not tied my wagon to the failed policies of the administration,” he said.
Addivinola lives in Boston, which is not in the district, but federal law allows him to run for the seat, since he is a Massachusetts resident. He has run previously for the US House, the state Senate, and the Boston City Council.
If he were to score an upset Tuesday, he said, he would move into the district, probably to Malden, where he grew up. But as a current resident of Boston, he is not eligible to vote Tuesday and will not be able to cast a ballot for himself.