Aug. 05--State Treasurer and gubernatorial hopeful Steve Grossman is banking on a low turnout to help propel him to victory when Democratic voters go to the polls for the September primary.
"I expect this to be a fairly low-turnout primary. And it places a huge premium on an army of activists. ... Our army of activists is energized. We're working every single day," he said in explaining how he believes he will win the Sept. 9 tilt.
Grossman told Herald editors and reporters yesterday he wouldn't be surprised if fewer votes are cast at the primary than there were in 2002, when a four-way showdown drew roughly 767,200 voters with Shannon O'Brien winning the Democratic nomination, according to the Secretary of State William Galvin's Office. Grossman was part of that race, too, before dropping out ahead of the primary vote.
"I think we narrowed the gap," Grossman, who won the party's endorsement at its June convention, added. "Name recognition has always been the biggest challenge I've faced. Treasurers may do a lot of important things, but it's not all that well-known."
Democratic primaries have drawn varying amount of voters in recent election cycles. In 2006, when Deval Patrick captured the hearts of the Democratic grass roots en route to winning the Corner Office, roughly 926,400 people showed at the polls in September. Four years later, when Patrick ran uncontested for re-election -- and Grossman faced a competitive primary for treasurer -- 487,187 votes were cast, according to Galvin's office.
Phil Johnston -- who nearly pulled off an upset of his own against the heavily favored William Delahunt in the 1996 congressional primary -- said the action at the grass-roots level in both of those cycles far exceeded what he's seeing this year, in part, he said, because a string of special elections has been "exhausting" donors and activists. He said there are also few major policy differences between Grossman, Coakley and fellow candidate Don Berwick.
"I would say a low turnout always helps the best organized candidate," Johnston said. "I don't know who that is, but in my area, down in southeastern Massachusetts, many of the legislators and elected officials are supporting Steve. And around the state, that's the case as well."
Boston University professor Fred Bayles said he'd expect a low turnout, too. "There's nobody that has fired up a large portion of the population," he said.
Grossman also said he wouldn't rule out dipping into his own pocket to fund his campaign, adding: "A lack of financial resources I don't think are going to limit our ability to mount the most effective campaign over these last five weeks."
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