By BOB SALSBERG and STEVE LeBLANC Associated Press
The Salem News
---- — BOSTON — A feisty campaign season in Massachusetts is speeding to a close with voters facing a slew of decisions, from picking a president and a U.S. senator, to deciding ballot questions and electing members of Congress and the Legislature.
The marquee event is the race pitting Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Scott Brown against Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, the most expensive political contest in Massachusetts history.
Voters will also choose between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama and decide the fate of ballot questions that would legalize medical marijuana, allow physician-assisted suicide and overhaul car repair rules.
Brown and Warren took to the trail yesterday for a final full day of campaigning.
Brown embarked on the last day of a four-day bus tour, including nine stops across the state and an evening rally in his hometown of Wrentham.
In Lowell, Brown, accompanied by his wife, Gail Huff, and daughter Arianna, visited a field office where he thanked a few dozen volunteers making last-minute phone calls and urged supporters to take to Facebook, email and their phones to get family and friends to the polls.
Brown said the energy level on the campaign was even stronger than in 2010, when he won a special election to succeed the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Brown also took a turn on the phones himself.
“This is Sen. Scott Brown, sorry to bug you,” he said to a Truro resident on the other end of the line. “Can I count on your vote? Thank you very much. Tell your family and friends.”
“Two for two,” he joked after ending the call, his second.
Brown won Lowell in the 2010 special election by about 1,000 votes out of 20,000 cast in the city. Fewer than 40 percent of registered voters in Lowell went to the polls in that election.
Polls have shown the 2012 race remains tight.
At a stop in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, Warren campaigned with Kennedy’s two sons — Ted Kennedy Jr. and former Rep. Patrick Kennedy.
“If you loved my father, Sen. Edward Kennedy, you are going to love the champion of working people that Elizabeth Warren is going to be for the commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Patrick Kennedy said.
Ted Kennedy Jr. said his father admired Warren’s intellect and perseverance, adding “he would be proud and honored to know that someone of Elizabeth Warren’s caliber is putting her name forward.”
Warren said “no one ever had to ask on whose side Ted Kennedy stood” and she wanted to carry on that tradition.
“That’s what this race comes down to. It comes down to whose side do you stand on,” Warren said. “We’ve just got one more thing to do and that is the most sacred thing, the most powerful thing we can do and that is we are getting out ... and we are going to vote.”
The candidates combined have spent a record $68 million on the campaign, but an unusual agreement Brown and Warren reached to keep outside groups from advertising held through the end of the campaign, surprising some skeptical political watchers.
“Isn’t that great? I’m very proud of what we did — we did — together,” said Brown, emphasizing that Warren deserved praise for keeping her end of the bargain. “Can you imagine another $30 million of negative ads on the air?”
Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin yesterday projected 3.1 million of the state’s roughly 4.2 million registered voters, about 73 percent, will go to the polls, matching turnout in 2008, the last presidential election year.
If turnout were to reach 3.2 million, it would mean about 1 million more votes being cast than in the January 2010 special election that Brown won.
The presidential and Senate contests seem to be driving interest in the election. Boston has registered 28,930 new voters since September’s primary. Statewide since February, nearly 232,000 new voters have been added to the Massachusetts rolls.
Voters are also being asked to decide three ballot questions.
Question 1 would require automakers to share diagnostic and repair information with independent mechanics, while Question 2 would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication at the request of certain terminally ill patients.
Question 3 would allow marijuana to be used for some medical purposes.
There are also a number of high-profile congressional races.
Voters in the 4th Congressional District will choose between Democrat Joseph Kennedy III, making his first run for office, and Republican Sean Bielat to fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Barney Frank, a Democrat.
The fiercest congressional contest is in the 6th District, where Republican Richard Tisei is challenging Rep. John Tierney.
Tisei has accused the seven-term Democratic incumbent of being dishonest with voters about what he knew of an illegal offshore gambling ring run by two brothers-in-law.
Tierney has faulted Tisei for using what he called smear tactics and said he’s sold out to tea party extremists.
If he wins, Tisei, who is gay, would be the first Massachusetts Republican elected to the House since 1994.
Voters will also be choosing state senators and state representatives, although Democrats’ firm hold on power in the Massachusetts Legislature seems unlikely to be loosened, with Republican candidates running in less than half of the legislative seats.