Lawton declines to concede loss

Barry Lawton, who lost a Fifth Suffolk state representative primary to fellow Democrat Carlos Henriquez by 41 votes, continued to mull next steps this week.

“I haven’t decided what I’m going to do,” Lawton told the Reporter. He added later, “I’m reassessing and determining what puts the community first.”

A Boston Public Schools teacher and a former State House aide, Lawton said he did not attempt to gather enough signatures to mount a recount, saying the bar was set too high. Recounts require 50 signatures from voters in each of the eight wards in the district to be submitted to City Hall.

But Lawton left the door open to a write-in campaign in November’s general election.

No Republicans are running for the seat, which opened up after former state Rep. Marie St. Fleur said she was not running for re-election and took a job with the Menino administration.

A total of 2,170 votes were cast. Henriquez received 719, while Lawton picked up 678 votes. Althea Garrison, a former state representative, received 400 votes, while perennial candidate Roy Owens received 226 votes.

“I just think a lot of the votes I had just didn’t come out,” Lawton said. “The primary date didn’t really resonate with voters. A lot of focus has been on the November election and this primary was very far under the radar.”

Lawton, who has run for the seat twice before, and Henriquez, a community activist and former City Hall aide, have not spoken since they participated in a Vine St. community forum on Sept. 8.

“We’re still going to continue to knock doors and speak to residents,” Henriquez said. “If he is choosing to do a write-in campaign, it’s his right.”

Henriquez, the Democratic Party’s nominee because of the primary win, called a potential write-in campaign “divisive.”

“But again, it’s his option. He has a right do what he sees fit,” Henriquez said. “Forty-one votes is no landslide. For me it’s still about civic engagement.”

Lawton, a member of the Democratic State Committee, won 11 out of the 19 precincts in the district, with Henriquez topping the ballot in seven and Garrison winning two precincts. Owens did not win any precincts.

But Henriquez was stronger throughout the district while Lawton posted strong numbers in his home base, Ward 15, but posted weak numbers in Henriquez’s base.

Garrison said she was “disappointed” with the results, and chalked up her loss to not having a website. “I thought I could do things the old-fashioned way,” she said. “I will say this much: I’m not going away.”

Garrison has frequently run for office under a variety of banners, including as a Democrat and Republican. Last year, she mounted a run against City Councillor Chuck Turner. Henriquez also ran, but Turner cruised to another term.

Garrison, who served as state representative for a single term in the early 1990s, said she would keep running for public office until she wins again.