SALEM — Sen. Fred Berry said yesterday that he believes Salem City Councilor Joan Lovely is the best choice to succeed him in the state Senate.
“I will cast my vote for Joan Lovely,” Berry said in a statement that was leaked to the press two days before planned.
“As an eight-term city councilor and longtime community leader, Joan knows what local communities need from the state government. She has demonstrated both compassion and political courage in dealing with tight municipal budgets and providing vital services to her community.”
There have been rumors in political circles the last few weeks that Berry was covertly supporting Lovely, but the senator had given no indication until yesterday that a public endorsement was coming.
“I’m somewhat interested, but I haven’t paid a lot of attention,” Berry told The Salem News last week. “They’re all pretty qualified.”
Even Lovely said she “had no clue” Berry’s endorsement was coming until she was informed by a reporter yesterday.
“I am absolutely thrilled, delighted and honored to have the support of someone whom I respect so much,” she said. “We have worked closely together for 15 years. I think we have very similar styles to how we approach things. ... We’re both bridge-builders, and we both work extremely hard.”
Lovely said Berry called her yesterday afternoon to give her his support.
Berry has represented the 2nd Essex District — made up of Beverly, Danvers, Peabody, Salem and Topsfield — since being elected in 1982. His nod could give Lovely a boost in Thursday’s Democratic primary.
“Sen. Berry is a long-trusted and respected voice in the Senate, so I would expect his endorsement to have a pretty significant effect,” said Jason Silva, a Beverly city councilor and chief of staff for Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, who has also endorsed Lovely.