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    Area activists choose sides in governor’s race

    Peg MacKenzie, a longtime Democratic volunteer from Weymouth, is backing Martha Coakley in the governor’s race, saying the attorney general gives voice to issues she cares about and has “fought for the people of Massachusetts.”

    But Democrat Lincoln Heineman of Scituate is in state Treasurer Steve Grossman’s corner, saying that as a “fantastic manager,” Grossman has the skills needed in a governor.

    Patricia Barrett, a Republican State Committee member from Norwood, favors Charlie Baker, saying he “is a businessman who would be able to take this state out of the problems we are in now.”


    As this year’s governor’s race comes into focus, politically active residents across the region are lining up behind candidates and pitching in to help them succeed.

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    Democrats have been especially busy, with a competitive five-way primary race heading toward the party’s state convention on Friday and Saturday. At the event, delegates will endorse a candidate and determine which ones make the September primary ballot. The other three contenders are Joseph C. Avellone, Donald M. Berwick, and Juliette Kayyem.

    The Republican field pits Baker against Mark Fisher, a candidate affiliated with the Tea Party movement. The eventual Democratic and GOP nominees will vie in the November election with unenrolled candidates Evan Falchuk, who is running under the banner of the new United Independent party; Jeff McCormick, a venture capital investor; and Scott Lively, an evangelical Christian pastor.

    An immediate task for Democrats is to help their candidates win support from convention delegates, many of whom remain uncommitted. Supporters are also helping their candidates build local support, which includes organizing events.

    Bishop Tony Branch, a Brockton Democrat and an elected Coakley delegate, is leading a team of volunteers that is knocking on doors for her every other Saturday in the city. Branch, senior pastor at Revival Nation Chapel of America churches in Brockton and Dorchester, has also helped organize a Brockton “meet and greet” event with Coakley.


    “We see Martha as ‘Citizen Martha’ because she really connects with the common citizen,” he said. “Her agenda connects with the citizens, whether you are talking about marriage equality, bully prevention, or the social services needed for our homeless population.”

    Heineman helped organize a house party for Grossman last month. In addition to his managerial skills, he said, the treasurer has impressed him as someone who keeps his promises, including to have the state shift its foreign investments into Massachusetts banks, which in turn loan money to small businesses. “That’s had a positive effect.”

    Joseph R. Pacheco, chairman of the Raynham Board of Selectmen, will also be voting for Grossman at the convention. Pacheco is a delegate by virtue of his position as chairman of the Democratic Town Committee.

    “I’ve known him a long time. . . . He’s a good person — he’s open, he’s accessible. I think he’s the best-equipped for the job,” Pacheco said of Grossman.

    Kathy Ahern Gould, a Duxbury Democrat, is an elected delegate supporting Berwick, a former director of the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.


    A nurse specialist at Boston hospitals and an adjunct professor of nursing at Boston College, Gould said she is impressed with Berwick’s work “improving the quality and safety of health care” during his time leading the nonprofit Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

    Also in Berwick’s corner is Tess Sousa of Weymouth, an alternate delegate to the convention. Sousa first came to know Berwick when she served as executive assistant to his wife, Ann Berwick, when she was the state’s energy undersecretary.

    “He’s a true leader and a visionary and a collaborator,” she said.

    Brockton City Councilor Shirley Asack will be heading to the convention as a delegate supporting Kayyem, a former state and federal homeland security official and Boston Globe columnist. Asack hosted an event for Kayyem at her home and helped organize another one at her church.

    “She has a very impressive resume. If you listen to her talk, she’s very enthusiastic, interesting. She’s a breath of fresh air,” Asack said. “I relate to her. We are similar in age and we both have children. . . . We have similar views.”

    Jass Stewart, another Brockton city councilor, is also going to the convention, but as a supporter of Avellone. Stewart hosted an event earlier this year for Avellone, a biotechnology executive and former Wellesley selectman.

    “He’s just the right mix for the kind of leadership we need in the Commonwealth,” Stewart said, citing Avellone’s background as a Harvard-educated surgeon, a health care executive, and a local official.

    Another Avellone delegate is Patrick McDermott of Quincy, who is Norfolk County register of probate, a Democratic State Committee member, and former city councilor.

    “He brings a wealth of experience. I think he brings fresh ideas to the table and he certainly brings a moderate approach,” McDermott said, calling those attributes “the best bet to go up against Charlie Baker.”

    Barrett, who voted for Baker as a delegate to the Republican State Committee in March, said she has made phone calls and has been raising funds for the candidate.

    “This state doesn’t need any more money. They have to start learning not to spend money. That’s what Charlie Baker can do,” she said, calling him a “brillant businessman.”

    Andrew Boyle, an unenrolled Scituate resident, supports Falchuk, a global health company executive. Boyle marched with Falchuk at last summer’s Heritage Days parade in Scituate, and in the recent Dorchester Day Parade.

    “The biggest thing about Evan that I like and respect is just an honesty he conveys,” said Boyle, who also likes Falchuk’s “real pragmatic approach to the issues.”

    Ronit Enos, an unenrolled Scituate resident, favors McCormick, a venture capitalist.

    “I believe in his vision of creating jobs and opportunities within our country and within our state because he has done that,” she said. “And I believe in the innovation, the excitement, the passion he possesses, that he brings to business owners to help them create more jobs and more opportunities to give back to future employees of the state.”

    John Laidler can be reached at