Potential Wilkerson foe to back her chief rival; St. Fleur, Allen, Hart could face fall competition

One candidate who was challenging state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson has stepped aside as others have jumped in for their shot to represent parts of Dorchester.

Roxbury filmmaker Robert Patton-Spruill, who pulled nomination papers earlier this year, is now throwing support to Sonia Chang-Diaz, he said this week.

"I think if I did [run], it would just divide the vote," instead of furthering his goal of new leadership, he said. "I don't think state senators should be in there for life," he added, taking a shot at Wilkerson's eight terms in office.

Another potential candidate, William T. Leonard, who is listed as unenrolled, has also pulled nomination papers for the Second Suffolk seat. Individuals have until April 29 to return nomination papers for district and county offices, according to Secretary of State William Galvin's office.

Patton-Spruill, who has worked on Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray's campaign and a documentary on the rap group Public Enemy, said he would help Chang-Diaz, a former legislative aide to state Sen. Cheryl Jacques, focus on new voters and use the internet to get out more information.

An artist-in-residence at Emerson College, Patton-Spruill also hinted that he might yet run for a political office in the future, noting that he was only 38 years old. "You haven't heard the last of me yet," he said.

Two perennial candidates, Althea Garrison and Roy Owens, have also pulled papers against state Sen. Jack Hart and Rep. Marie St. Fleur, respectively. State Reps. Linda Dorcena Forry, Brian Wallace and Marty Walsh do not have any apparent opponents as of press time.

Schoolteacher Barry Lawton has also taken out papers to run against St. Fleur. Lawton was a candidate for the Fifth Suffolk seat in 1999, in a special election that St. Fleur won. Lawton planned to run for St. Fleur's seat when she was briefly a candidate for Lieutenant Governor in 2006.

In the Sixth Suffolk, freshman State Rep. Willie Mae Allen could also face primary challengers, with two people, Faustina Gabriel and LaTasha Cooper drawing papers.

Most potential candidates did not return phone calls seeking comment. Garrison, a one-term state representative, had an outgoing voicemail message dubbing herself as an "independent conservative." The Boston Phoenix has called her the "compulsive candidate," due to the sheer number of offices she has attempted to run for.

Garrison's message also called on voters to "wake up, wake up, wake up" and "stop voting like you're brain dead." Editor's Note: In the print edition of this story, which was published on April 17, the Reporter incorrectly reported that Roy Owens had taken out nomination papers to challenge Rep. Brian Wallace in his Fourth Suffolk seat. In fact, Owens has taken out nomination papers to run in the Fifth Suffolk, a seat presently held by Rep. Marie St. Fleur. The Reporter regrets the error.