ATTLEBORO — With voter turnout expected to be on the low side for a special Senate election Tuesday, both parties brought out their big names over the weekend to push people to the polls.
The independent candidate in the district, Joe Shortsleeve of Medfield, doesn’t have a party to back him, so he relied on “flash mob” events across the district to gin up interest in the race.
Democrat Paul Feeney of Foxboro got help from a steady stream of party leaders, including U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy, Sen. Ed Markey and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Republican Jacob Ventura, who was endorsed by Gov. Charlie Baker last week, campaigned with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and party officials in Walpole Sunday.
Various turnout predictions say only about 15 percent of registered voters in the Bristol and Norfolk District will cast ballots Tuesday in the special election to replace former Sen. James Timilty, who resigned.
That means the election could be decided by only the most loyal of partisan voters.
Ventura and Feeney want as many of those loyalists from their party to turn out and used big-name leaders to motivate the base.
Shortsleeve, meanwhile, needs to attract independents and disaffected party members to the polls in a district that is 60 percent independent, or unenrolled.
“All I’ve got is the people. I don’t have a party,” Shortsleeve said.
Feeney most definitely has a party — the Democratic Party — and its leaders have gone all out for him.
Kennedy campaigned Friday, Markey on Saturday and Warren on Sunday.
Warren came to American Legion Post 312 in South Attleboro Sunday and told about 50 campaign volunteers that special elections are “tricky. It’s all going to be about turnout.”
She urged the volunteers to knock on as many doors as possible between now and Tuesday to get Feeney supporters to the polls.
Feeney, she said, has dedicated his life to helping working class families and they share the same middle class values.
She said Feeney is a clear alternative to the two other candidates who support President Donald Trump and his policies favoring “the thin slice at the top.”
Feeney said his concern for working people is reflected in his issues of improving health care, establishing a $15 minimum wage, and providing equal pay for equal work by women.
Ventura and Polito spent Sunday evening walking down Red Gate Road in Walpole, knocking on doors and encouraging citizens to vote in the election.
“Walpole is a very important town in this district and we’re trying to win it,” Ventura said. “I’ve been in almost every neighborhood in this town meeting with voters.”
Polito said thanks to his background, Ventura is an ideal candidate.
“He’s worked in the private sector and understands those interests,” she said. “To have his leadership when it comes to balancing budgets with fiscal discipline while being responsible is something that Governor Baker and I value.”
Shortsleeve said he and a band of supporters drove around the district over the weekend, holding “flash mob” events.
Word would be sent out on social media about where to meet up and supporters would show up at places with signs and wave to passing motorists.
“A whole bunch of people would just show up all at once,” he said, adding it was a high-energy event.
The special election involves a district that includes half of Attleboro, part of Sharon and all of Seekonk, Rehoboth, Norton, Mansfield, Foxboro, Walpole and Medfield.
Jim Hand may be reached at 508-236-0399 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter at @TSCpolitic