Today’s the day for five seeking to fill Walsh seat

Voters in Dorchester and a precinct in Quincy will go to the polls on Tuesday to pick a Democratic nominee in the special election to replace Marty Walsh on Beacon Hill. With no Republican on the ballot, the Democratic primary, which features five candidates, is the main event.

The contenders include Liam Curran, a labor-focused attorney; former reporter Gene Gorman; former state Department of Conservation and Recreation aide and attorney Dan Hunt; Boston Public Health Commission attorney PJ McCann; and Cedar Grove civic activist John O’Toole.

Reporter Editorial: Hunt is best choice in a good field

The March 4 primary will be followed by an April 1 general election. The winner will be serving out Walsh’s term, and will have to run again in the fall to retain the seat.

The district includes Ward 7’s Precinct 9; Ward 13 Precincts 6 through 10; Ward 15 Precinct 6; Ward 16 Precincts 1 through 7, 9, 10, 12; and Ward 17 Precincts 3 and 5. The Quincy section is Ward 3, Precinct 3.

Political observers inside and outside the district widely view the race as between two candidates: Hunt, who jumped in soon after Walsh’s election to City Hall, and O’Toole, who ran in the 2011 City Council race to replace Maureen Feeney. O’Toole finished second, but he gained name recognition and has remained involved in the neighborhood.

Hunt’s early start helped his fundraising. Because donation restrictions are based in part on the calendar year and not election cycles, he raised $55,000 before the end of December. An attorney, he has raised an additional $49,615 this year, as of mid-February, much of it from fellow lawyers, current and former Beacon Hill lawmakers, and the healthcare industry. Two unions have also kicked in money: IBEW Local 2222 ($500) and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades ($150).

After spending $61,000, Hunt has $43,471 heading into the election, according to the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

O’Toole, a longtime member of a local plumbers union, has raised $15,000 and spent about $6,000, leaving about $9,300 in his campaign account. Unions have also contributed to his campaign, including the Asbestos Workers Local 6 ($250), Boston MBTA Carmen’s Union Local 589 ($500), and Carpenters Local Union 67 ($500), among others. Charles Tevnan, a candidate for the seat during the last special election in 1997, donated $100 to O’Toole.

O’Toole was also endorsed this week by the Boston Globe, which also backed him in his unsuccessful 2011 Council race against Frank Baker.

Unions appear to be splintered in whom they’re backing as a replacement for Walsh, a longtime labor leader who headed the building trades towards the end of his tenure as a state representative. He resigned the union post to run for mayor.

While Hunt has picked up the support of SEIU 1199, a health care workers union, and O’Toole has been endorsed by the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, Curran, who has ties to Walsh’s Local 223, has also snagged his own endorsements and union campaign checks. The Massachusetts Bricklayers People’s Committee and Laborers International Union Local 367 each donated $500 to his campaign. He also has the support of Walsh’s mother and brother, though the mayor says he is staying neutral.

Curran has raised $22,387 and spent $13,197, leaving an ending balance of $9,200 in his campaign account.

Gorman, who worked on Walsh’s transition team, has raised $9,795 and has just shy of $5,000 in his account. McCann, the Boston Public Health Commission attorney, has raised $15,000 and has roughly $12,000 left in the tank.

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