By Jesse Roman
---- — SALEM — In the days after her lopsided victory in the Democratic primary, Salem City Councilor Joan Lovely took some time to relax and unwind. But that didn’t last long.
“We’re back at it,” Lovely said this week, speaking from her campaign headquarters on Jefferson Street. “We’ll have the same intensity as we did in the primary.”
Lovely beat out former Peabody state Rep. John Slattery and Governor’s Councilor Mary-Ellen Manning to win the Democratic primary Sept. 6, and now faces a general election race against Republican Richard Jolitz.
Jolitz, an EMT from Beverly, did not have a Republican challenger in the primary.
Objective observers have questioned whether Jolitz is a serious candidate, and whether he can mount much opposition given the 2nd Essex District’s Democratic leanings. Campaign filings reveal that Jolitz has not raised any money, and he was virtually invisible during the primary season. He skipped the lone debate he was invited to, which was hosted by Salem Access Television.
Jolitz did not return numerous phone calls seeking an interview, and it’s not clear if the Republican has any intention of running a race.
Lovely has largely put her career as a lawyer on hold to focus on the campaign full time. Despite her massive head start and many expectations that the general election is a mere formality, Lovely has made it clear that she isn’t mailing it in.
“I don’t know what to expect,” Lovely said of the Jolitz campaign, “but our focus will be on what we need to do.”
Lovely has about 300 volunteers, her campaign estimates. They will make phone calls to get out the vote Nov. 6, as they did in the primary, she said. As was her strategy during the primary, Lovely will also continue to knock on doors across the district, which includes Salem, Peabody, Beverly, Danvers and Topsfield.
The winner of the election will succeed Sen. Fred Berry, who announced in January that he will retire after 30 years in office. Berry has already endorsed Lovely in the race.
Jolitz was the Republican challenger who tried to retire Berry two years ago, but the incumbent senator won easily in the 2010 general election. Jolitz didn’t campaign actively in that race.
There has been much speculation about what might happen to Lovely’s spot on the Salem City Council if she is elected to the Senate. She could choose either to keep the seat or step down, in which case the council would have the responsibility to name her replacement.
Lovely has decided to keep her intentions private until after the election.
“I promise to answer that question on Nov. 7. A lot of people are asking me; I just want to get through this first,” she said. “I’m focused on winning the election, not what will happen afterwards.”