Lawton plans write-in campaign for Fifth Suffolk state rep

Planning to campaign on weekends and after he gets out of school on weekdays, high school teacher Barry Lawton said Tuesday he plans to mount a write-in campaign for Fifth Suffolk state representative.

Lawton, a member of the Democratic State Committee who has run twice before for the seat, lost the Sept. 14 Democratic primary to former City Hall aide Carlos Henriquez by 41 votes.

Lawton said he won the majority of precincts and is pushing for more of his supporters to turn out on Nov. 2. “That is our hope,” he told the Reporter.

Henriquez came out on top in a four-way race to replace former state Rep. Marie St. Fleur, who took a job with the Menino administration in June. The other Democratic primary candidates included former state Rep. Althea Garrison and frequent candidate Roy Owens.

Asked how much money he has left after the primary, Lawton said, “We’re in the black.”

Henriquez, the Democratic Party nominee because of the primary win, told the Reporter last week that a write-in campaign would be “divisive.” Henriquez added: “He has a right do what he sees fit. Forty-one votes is no landslide. For me it’s still about civic engagement.”

Charlotte Golar Richie, a Democrat who held the Fifth Suffolk seat before St. Fleur, said, “I think there’s going to be a lot of support for Carlos, who went through the campaign and prevailed.”

She added, Lawton would be a “formidable” opponent because he is well known in the district.

But write-in campaigns need a ground game to succeed, with ample funds and campaign volunteers to staff the polls as voters come in.

“There has to be a (voter) education component to this,” she said.

Lawton won 11 out of the 19 precincts in the district, with Henriquez topping the ballot in seven and third place finisher Garrison winning two precincts.

Henriquez received 719 votes, while Lawton picked up 678 votes. Garrison received 400 votes, and perennial candidate Owens received 226 votes.