By Jonathan Phelps
---- — The votes cast across the North Shore in yesterday’s special U.S. Senate primaries echoed the statewide vote — for the most part.
Most North Shore towns and cities supported Congressman Ed Markey, D-Malden, and Cohasset businessman Gabriel Gomez, a Republican, for their respective nominations. The two men will square off against each other to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated in February when John Kerry stepped down to become U.S. secretary of state.
In the Democratic primary, Markey was challenged by Congressman Stephen Lynch of South Boston. Markey got the nod from voters in Beverly, Danvers, Hamilton, Ipswich, Marblehead, Salem, Swampscott, Ipswich and Wenham.
However, Lynch won in Peabody, with 2,236 votes over Markey’s 2,072.
On the Republican side, Gomez was challenged by Michael Sullivan, a former U.S. attorney and Plymouth district attorney, and state Rep. Daniel Winslow.
Gomez swept most North Shore towns and cities, including Beverly, Danvers, Hamilton, Ipswich, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem, Swampscott and Wenham.
Local election officials said the voter turnout was low, as also reported statewide.
With less than an hour before the polls closed, the Bentley Elementary School gymnasium in Salem was empty.
“This is the slowest I’ve ever seen,” said Sharon Armstrong, who has worked the polls for four years.
Out of the city’s 25,734 registered voters, 3,872 cast ballots — a 15 percent turnout.
“There was not a lot of interest,” Armstrong said. “I talked to some people this week who didn’t even know about it.”
Sean Dixon-Gumm of Salem voted for Markey at Bentley School last night. While he tries to vote in every election, he was driven to the polls yesterday by reports of “abysmal” voter turnouts.
“He is a more progressive candidate to my way of thinking,” he said. “I think both candidates are good men.”
As for the low voting turnout, he said people are still “exhausted” from the “slugfest” that the Elizabeth Warren vs. Scott Brown race for U.S. Senate turned into.
“I think people are still sleeping off from the last election,” he said.
Salem resident Ellen Fleming, who used to work for Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, also voted from Markey.
“I think he has always done a solid job,” she said. “I voted for him based on his congressional record.”
There was a 15 percent turnout in Hamilton, with 865 of the town’s 5,832 registered voters casting ballots.
“It was never really busy,” Hamilton Town Clerk Jane Wetson said. “I was really surprised because there were candidates for both parties. There were three Republicans and two Democrats.”
Outside the school on Bay Road, Hamilton resident Keating Willcox was holding a homemade sign for Gomez. He was the only one.
“I guess nobody is fighting for the vote here in Hamilton,” he said.
Willcox said he only recently became interested in the election after meeting Gomez at Henderson’s Cafe in Wenham.
“He has a Scott Brown-type footprint,” he said. “I think he has a very strong appeal to the independent voters you need to win in Massachusetts.”
Gene Wood, a poll warden at Centerville Elementary School in Beverly, said he’s worked the polls for 25 years in the city. He said there were no rushes during the day.
“This is the slowest one I’ve ever seen,” he said. “On a normal election, we would have had four times as many voters.”
Beverly resident George Simon said he voted for Gomez at Centerville School.
“I think he has the best chance at beating Markey or Lynch,” he said.
A lifelong Democrat, Tim Murphy of Beverly said he voted for Lynch, although he acknowledged that Markey would likely win.
“I think (Lynch’s) positions are more centrist,” he said. “My problem with Markey is we’ll have another true ultra-liberal Democrat in Congress, and it will be tough to pass legislation. There is too much extreme on both sides of the parties.”
In Wenham, Town Clerk Trudy Reid reported 17 percent turnout, which is right on par with a typical election in that town. With an estimated 17 percent turnout statewide, Reid said Wenham had a “good turnout.”
“We had a pretty good stream going through,” Reid said of the polls. “There was about an hour where there was a lull.”
The special election is scheduled for June 25.
Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.
How the North Shore voted
Gabriel Gomez, R Michael Sullivan, R Daniel Winslow, R Stephen Lynch, D Ed Markey, D
Beverly 638 357 205 1,021 1,797
Danvers 526 333 159 918 907
Hamilton 244 102 60 151 308
Ipswich 299 177 56 246 822
Marblehead 640 252 159 498 1,653
Peabody 839 561 259 2,236 2,072
Salem 396 266 113 1,257 1,830
Swampscott 385 203 104 719 1,338
Wenham 126 60 42 58 212