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Candidates for governor, US Senate crisscross state in last-minute push before primary

Beth Lindstrom, seeking Elizabeth Warren’s US Senate seat, spent part of Saturday in Saugus waving to drivers on Route 1.
Beth Lindstrom, seeking Elizabeth Warren’s US Senate seat, spent part of Saturday in Saugus waving to drivers on Route 1.(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)

One politely introduced himself and his wife to churchgoers in Boston. Another listened to a business owner grumble about taxes and regulations. One stood in a rotary with a life-size cardboard figure of President Trump. Another fired his best fastball at a dunk tank. (The result: Splash!)

Two days before the primary election, candidates for governor and US Senate zipped across Massachusetts, reminding people to vote on the Tuesday after Labor Day, glad-handing, and chit-chatting under the late-summer sun.

Early Sunday morning, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez and his wife arrived at Morning Star Baptist Church in Mattapan and were greeted warmly by Joseph D. Feaster Jr., a supporter and longtime member of the church.

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All three stood near the entrance and said hello to worshipers as they walked toward the door.

“I know the Lord is waiting for you in there, but I want you to meet a gubernatorial candidate,” Feaster said.

Gonzalez, a former state budget chief, introduced himself and his wife, Cyndi, to one person after another. He offered a synopsis of his pitch (the state can and should “aim higher”) to those who stopped longer than a moment.

On the side of a rotary in Gloucester later on Sunday morning, Springfield pastor Scott Lively took pictures of his handful of supporters as they held signs at Grant Circle.

“Move to the right,” directed Lively, best known for his antigay views, who is running a long-shot bid as the conservative alternative to Governor Charlie Baker in the GOP primary.

Cars whizzed by Lively and his supporters, who held “pro-life, pro-gun, pro-Trump” signs as well as the cardboard cutout of Trump giving two thumbs up. Lively said he feels he has a “reasonable chance” to pull off an upset over Baker. “The grass roots are on fire,” said Lively, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat customized to add “Scott Lively for Governor” on the side.

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Many miles away in Newton, Bob Massie, an environmentalist, entrepreneur, and the other Democratic candidate for governor, spent Sunday afternoon knocking on doors on the lookout for voters.

He left notes in the doors of empty houses, spoke to one man through an open window, and addressed another in French.

“One of the lessons of politics and one of my mottos is, ‘You never know,’ ” Massie said. “You don’t know what peoples’ backgrounds are or what kind of views they’re going to hold.”

Philip Jasset Jr., 62, said Massie made a good first impression. The Newton resident said he expects three qualities in a governor: “Honesty. Consistency. Respect for others.”

Massie also was able to connect with Lilian, 46, and Carlos Bracamonte, 47, as well as their 18-year-old daughter, Karla, who is voting for the first time Tuesday.

“To be honest, all politicians sound good at first,” Lillian Bracamonte said. “We have to find out a bit more. But the fact that he’s walking around knocking on doors is very important.”

John Kingston greeted one of his supporters, Binh Nguyencong (left), who held a sign in Braintree. Kingston is another GOP candidate seeking Warren’s seat.
John Kingston greeted one of his supporters, Binh Nguyencong (left), who held a sign in Braintree. Kingston is another GOP candidate seeking Warren’s seat.(Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)

Nearly halfway across the state, the governor spent an hour and a half at the Spencer Fair, where he made small talk, took selfies, and successfully sent a boy into the dunk tank with a fast pitch.

Fairgoers recognized Baker and wanted to say their piece.

“You do a great job on talk radio!” Richard Barrett, an independent voter from New Braintree, told Baker, referring to the governor’s regular appearances on WGBH-FM with hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan.

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“Don’t you think they should go a little easier on me?” Baker asked, smiling.

Baker later told reporters he’s proud of his record on economic development, community-building, and education; he is taking nothing for granted; and his campaign will work hard to turn out his vote on Tuesday.

And, echoing a sentiment about the imminent election expressed Sunday by all the candidates in contested US Senate and gubernatorial primaries, Baker said: “I feel pretty good about it.”

Beth Lindstrom, one of three Republicans running for the US Senate nomination to take on Democrat Elizabeth Warren and an independent candidate in November, made the rounds at the Three County Fair in Northampton not long after the gates opened Sunday at 10 a.m.

She fielded a barrage of questions from one man, a Florida resident, about what kind of Republican she is.

“I call myself a rational and reasonable person,” Lindstrom said.

Later, she chatted with Tim Barbiasz and his wife as they set up their Pig Park BBQ stand (one option: a cow bowl — brisket, BBQ sauce, BBQ beans, and cole slaw — for $9).

“They nickel and dime you to death, and the regulations. . . . ” Barbiasz shook his head, grimacing about the struggles of being a small-business owner.

Another GOP US Senate hopeful, John Kingston, ventured into solidly Democratic territory Sunday afternoon: downtown Boston, where he chatted with voters along Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

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Geoff Diehl, also hoping to challenge Warren, spoke with voters during a concert held Saturday on Stacy Boulevard in Gloucester.
Geoff Diehl, also hoping to challenge Warren, spoke with voters during a concert held Saturday on Stacy Boulevard in Gloucester.(Michael Swensen for The Boston Globe)

At the Liquor Wicks Candle Co. kiosk, he approached Meaghan McCarthy, 29, a co-owner. After asking her a half dozen questions about her candle holders made out of recycled beer and alcohol bottles, he introduced himself.

“So I am running for US Senate,” Kingston said, pointing to a campaign sticker on his breast with his name on it. “Are you registered to vote?”

“No, I am not, but I should be soon,” she replied.

“Oh good, you’ll be seeing more of me then. I am running against Elizabeth Warren. Do you watch TV at all?” the businessman asked.

“Yeah, sure,” she said while completing his purchase of an Absolut Vodka bottle with a “black raspberry vanilla” scented candle.

“So maybe you have seen my ads,” he continued.

“No, but now I will be on the lookout,” McCarthy said.

Kingston went on to make the pitch that he will focus on Massachusetts while Warren is focused on national politics.

On Sunday afternoon, State Representative Geoff Diehl, of Whitman, the third hopeful for the GOP US Senate nod, made a stop on what he calls the “supermarket circuit.”

Diehl stood in the sun outside the Middleborough Hannaford Supermarket shaking hands with nearly every person and repeating: “Hi, I am Geoff Diehl and I am running for US Senate. The primary is Tuesday.” Many said he already had their vote. Others took his handout.

Dan Bermingham, 60, who works at the hardware store in the same strip mall, just waved off Diehl. He assumed Diehl was another Democratic politician and muttered that he was a Republican.

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“A Republican? But I am a Republican,” said Diehl, running into the parking lot after Bermingham.

The extra effort paid off. Bermingham left the shopping center with two bags of groceries and a Diehl yard sign.


Cristela Guerra of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos. James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JamesPindell.