Voters will head to the polls today to cast primary ballots on a Thursday instead of a Tuesday.Sept. 6 is the date, which also happens to be the first day of school in Boston, as well as the last day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, where dozens of Massachusetts Democrats will be hanging out.
Beacon Hill lawmakers goofed last year, changing the date to Sept. 6 from Sept. 18, due to the later date’s conflict with the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashonah.
There will be few competitive races for voters: Dorchester and Mattapan’s Congressional representatives and nearly all members of their State House delegation aren’t facing primary challengers.
But the ballot will remind voters that several offices still demand a decision, such as Superior Court Clerk (criminal and civil divisions) and Suffolk County Register of Probate.
And in the Fifth Suffolk House District, state Rep. Carlos Henriquez, who is fighting charges that he assaulted and kidnapped a former girlfriend, will face a primary challenge from a perennial candidate, Althea Garrison, who is also on the November ballot as an independent.
Garrison, who had previously avoided bringing up the fact of the charges against Henriquez, has recently dropped the gloves in sending a strongly worded letter to Fifth Suffolk residents calling Henriquez “despicable” and asking them to write in her name and address onto the ballot next week.
Henriquez has pleaded not guilty to the charges, maintaining his innocence, and saying 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.
The challenger, who has served one 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, a Democrat who represents parts of Roxbury and Dorchester, 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 that 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,” she added.
Elsewhere on the ballot, more obscure offices are in play. Maura Hennigan, a former city councillor at-large and the incumbent Clerk of Superior Court (Criminal Business), is facing another challenge from Robert Dello Russo, who ran against her in 2006 and lost. Russo is a former assistant clerk magistrate.
On the Civil Business side, incumbent Michael Donovan is facing a challenge from Michael Dash.
East Boston City Councillor Sal LaMattina is running for Suffolk County Register of Probate, a seat that opened up after Richard Iannella decided against running for reelection and the interim appointee decided against throwing her hat into the ring.
LaMattina is facing off against Patricia “Patty” Campatelli, also an East Boston native.
Dorchester’s two Democratic Congressmen, Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch, did not attract primary challengers. Lynch will face off against the winner of the Republican primary, which has Matias Temperley of Quincy and Joe Selvaggi of Beacon Hill competing against each other.
Dorchester’s two state senators – Sonia Chang-Diaz and Jack Hart – are expected to sail through the primary: Hart has no Democratic primary opponent and no Republican challenger in November, while Chang-Diaz has nominal opposition in the form of perennial candidate Roy Owens. She is unlikely to see a Republican challenger in November.