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(UPDATED) Garrison says she's waging write-in campaign against Rep. Henriquez

Perennial candidate Althea Garrison, already on the November ballot as an independent, has launched a write-in effort against state Rep. Carlos Henriquez in the Democratic primary set for Sept. 6.

Garrison, who had previously avoided bringing up charges that Henriquez had kidnapped and assaulted a girl he had been seeing, sent a strongly worded letter to Fifth Suffolk District residents calling Henriquez “despicable” and asking them to write in her name and address on the ballot next week.

Henriquez has pleaded not guilty to the charges, maintained his innocence, and said the charges have not affected his work in the community. A court date is set for late September, after the primary election.

“Carlos Tony Henriquez now has legal problems from abusing his former girlfriend and cannot serve his constituents 100% as required, when the 5th Suffolk District needs a competent State Representative,” Garrison wrote.

The letter, which was obtained by the Reporter, also instructs voters how to write in her name.

Garrison, who once served a term as a state representative, later in the letter switched to third person references, touting herself as an alternative to Henriquez.

“If Mr. Carlos Tony Henriquez was in the private sector he would be forced to leave his job until his legal matters were cleared up or resolved, especially where these are criminal charges against him,” she added. “Althea is confident that she will defeat Carlos Tony Henriquez on a one on one challenge.”

Henriquez said he plans to keep his re-election campaign positive. "I was hoping we'd stay focused on the issues," he said.

Henriquez, who is staying in Boston and skipping the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, said Garrison is providing the "same kind of distraction tactics we see at the national level."

A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, which oversees elections, said it is possible for Garrison to run a write-in campaign in the Democratic primary and be on the November ballot as an independent.

Garrison, who has frequently run in elections as a Democrat, Republican and independent, confirmed she had sent the write-in letter to Fifth Suffolk District residents.

“That was part of my strategy all along,” she said. Bringing up Henriquez’s charges before the primary, but declining to comment on them just after they made the news was also part of the strategy, she added.

“I don’t feel you should let everybody know your strategy when you’re running your campaign,” Garrison said.

A Meetinghouse Hill Democrat said earlier this year she was weighing a run against Henriquez, but apparently did not follow through with the decision to go ahead.

The primary election is on a Thursday instead of a Tuesday this year.

UPDATED: This blog post was updated at 9:38 a.m. Tuesday with Rep. Henriquez's comments.