After Tuesday primaries, Massachusetts braces for a bumpy November

Massachusetts voters threw out a nine-term Democratic congressman and gave the presumed gubernatorial front-runner only a tepid endorsement. A roundup of the Tuesday primaries in five Northeast states. 

Chitose Suzuki/The Boston Herald/AP
Iraq war veteran Seth Moulton speaks during an election night party in Salem, Mass., Tuesday, after defeating incumbent Rep. John Tierney in the Massachusetts Sixth Congressional District Democratic primary.

For the first time in 22 years, primary voters in Massachusetts voted out a sitting Democratic congressman Tuesday, ousting embattled nine-term Rep. John Tierney in one of the most closely watched House races in the nation.

Democrats in Massachusetts’ Sixth Congressional District instead chose Seth Moulton, a Marine captain who served four tours in Iraq, as their nominee this November. Mr. Moulton, a Bay State native reared in an antiwar liberal home, was also a top aide to Gen. David Petraeus.

Representative Tierney was just the fourth incumbent member of the House to lose in a primary this year, and his defeat came despite the aggressive backing of national Democratic leaders, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, his close ally.  

“This was just an amazing 18 years, and we appreciate it, and we appreciate you standing with us all the way,” Tierney told supporters in a brief concession speech Tuesday evening. Moulton garnered more than 49 percent of the vote to Tierney’s 41.4 percent.

The Democratic incumbent joins three sitting Republican House members to be voted out in this year’s primaries: House majority leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Rep. Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan, and Rep. Ralph Hall of Texas each lost before the November midterm elections.

But Tierney was already considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the House, and many observers see Moulton’s victory as a boost for the party’s chances this November. Moulton, who earned a Harvard degree in physics, and then two masters degrees from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Business School, will face Republican Richard Tisei, the former state Senate minority leader who is openly gay, and who lost by less than 4,000 votes to Tierney in 2012.

In the race for Massachusetts governor, Attorney General Martha Coakley won a narrow victory in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, garnering only 42.4 percent of the vote in a three-way contest much more close than most expected.

Ms. Coakley, vying to become the first woman elected Massachusetts governor in state history, hoped a more convincing victory would ease doubts about her appeal to voters, following her 2010 debacle in the special election for the US Senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy, when she lost to tea party-backed Republican Scott Brown.

And Coakley’s opponent in November, Charlie Baker, is a Republican cut from the same socially liberal and fiscally conservative cloth that Massachusetts voters chose for 16 years prior to 2006, when current Gov. Deval Patrick (D) won the first of his two terms. And voters are well familiar with Mr. Baker, who lost by 6 points to Governor Patrick in 2010.

New Hampshire. Coakley’s former rival, former Senator Brown, moved over to New Hampshire after losing to Senator Warren in 2012, and he cruised to an easy victory in the Granite State’s Republican primary Tuesday. He will face Sen. Jeanne Shaheen this November in a race that will be closely watched as Republicans seek to take control of the US Senate.

“After six years of missed opportunities at home and growing dangers around the world, we need change,” Brown told supporters after his victory Tuesday. “And the problem is, a vote for my opponent will change exactly nothing.”

“I didn’t just move here. I’ve been here, working to make a difference for New Hampshire,” Senator Shaheen told a cheering crowd as she kicked of her fall campaign Tuesday. “No matter where Scott Brown lives, he’s going to put Scott Brown first. Not you … New Hampshire is not a consolation prize.”

In New Hampshire’s First Congressional District, former Rep. Frank Guinta and current Rep. Carol Shea-Porter will face off for the third time in the past three elections. This will be the rubber match between the two: Representative Shea-Porter, first elected in 2006, lost to Mr. Guinta in 2010, only to win back her seat in 2012.

Republican Marilinda Garcia, backed by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, won her primary battle in New Hampshire’s second district and will try to unseat Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster in November and become the state’s first Latina congresswoman.

Rhode Island. Rhode Island State Treasurer Gina Raimondo easily won the Democratic gubernatorial primary in that state Tuesday with more than 42 percent of the vote in a three-way race, and she will seek to become the first female governor in state history this November, when she faces off against Allan Fung, the mayor of Cranston, R.I., who won the Republican primary.

Delaware. Businessman Kevin Wade won the Republican nomination for one of Delaware’s US Senate seats Tuesday, and he will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Chris Coons in November.

New York. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the moderate Democrat with national ambitions, beat back a challenge from the party’s progressive left, defeating Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout Tuesday with more than 62 percent of the vote. But Ms. Teachout, a candidate with virtually no money and little name recognition, garnered over a third of the vote – a significant rebuke to the governor from New York liberals.

Governor Cuomo had assiduously ignored Teachout’s candidacy and campaigned little, even turning his back on the insurgent candidate as she attempted to greet him at a Labor Day parade. Cuomo did not attend a public victory celebration Tuesday evening, but he did release a statement, congratulating Teachout and her running mate, Columbia law professor Tim Wu, best known for coining the phrase “net neutrality,” for “running a spirited campaign, engaging in the democratic process, and having the courage to make their voices heard.”

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