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June 15, 2014

Democrats narrow gubernatorial field

WORCESTER — Massachusetts Democrats have narrowed their choice for governor to three, with state Treasurer Steven Grossman topping the balloting among delegates Saturday and Attorney General Martha Coakley narrowly edging out former federal health care administrator Don Berwick.

Two other Democratic hopefuls — former homeland security official Juliette Kayyem and business executive and former Wellesley selectman Joseph Avellone — failed to collect the needed 15 percent of delegates, ending their campaigns.

Grossman won the backing of 35 percent of delegates at the Democratic state convention in Worcester on the first round of balloting. He won the party's formal endorsement by acclamation after Coakley, who has led by wide margins in recent polls of likely Democratic voters, opted not to seek a second head-to-head runoff.

Coakley, a veteran Democratic political figure who has continued to grapple with her upset loss to Republican Scott Brown in the special election four years ago to succeed the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, won 23 percent of delegates.

Berwick, a first time candidate, had a strong showing among more liberal Democrats in part because of his support of a so-called "single payer" health plan. He collected 22 percent of delegates.

Grossman, who said he would run in the primary as a "progressive job creator," criticized Coakley's convention performance.

"The overwhelming front-runner according to the polls was rejected by 75 percent of the delegates in this convention hall. You can't be governor of Massachusetts without having that army of activists behind you," said Grossman.

In her speech to the several thousand convention delegates, Coakley said she understood the frustration Democrats felt after her 2010 loss and promised not to let her guard down this time.

"There is no one who is going to travel more miles, knock on more doors, shake more hands, or make more phone calls than me in this race," Coakley said. "And if I earn your support in September, and someone thinks they're going to beat us in this race, they have no idea of the fight they've got on their hands."

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