SALEM — Salem City Councilor Joan Lovely has waited years and logged countless hours in her quest to serve on Beacon Hill — and "it was all worth it," she told dozens of supporters in her victory speech after last night's Democratic primary for state Senate. Lovely soundly defeated her Democratic challengers in a primary and is now the heavy favorite to become the next state senator in the 2nd Essex District. "We are where we are tonight because of every single one of you," an elated Lovely told supporters at the Moose Lodge in Salem. "We started back in March knocking on doors. We burned up a lot of shoe leather all across this district."
Lovely, 54, will face Republican Richard Jolitz of Beverly in the November election. Jolitz, however, has done little campaigning so far and has not raised any money. The winner of the November election will replace retiring Sen. Frederick Berry, who has held the seat since 1983.
Berry, a revered figure in the district and in the Statehouse, endorsed Lovely in the race to succeed him and even enlisted his wife to record a robo-call made to voters on the eve of the election. Berry did not attend Lovely's victory party, but called her shortly after the votes were tallied.
"He said he was very proud and congratulations and that he was happy to support me," Lovely said in an interview after her victory speech.
In addition to Berry's influential support, Lovely had backing from popular Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll and Salem Rep. John Keenan, who both worked on Lovely's behalf.
"She put together a great organization," said Keenan, who made phone calls and knocked on doors for Lovely. "She really did put in the time walking and knocking on doors. That makes all the difference in a campaign like this."