Primary likely to serve as de facto special election for Kennedy’s seat


State Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) is the favorite heading into Election Day, but with no public polls in the last two weeks, it’s not clear how much of a boost Rep. Michael Capuano’s (D-Mass.) late surge gave him.

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Coakley has led by 15 or more points in all public polls on the race. A Boston Globe poll done by the University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center in mid-November had her leading Capuano 43-22, with Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca at 15 percent and City Year founder Alan Khazei at 5 percent.

The paucity of late polling on the race demonstrates the lack of excitement the field has generated. While the field was expected to include a number of members of the state’s congressional delegation, Capuano wound up as the only member to step forward and challenge Coakley.

His task became harder, though, with the entries of Pagliuca and Khazei, who could play spoiler for Capuano if the race is close.

Capuano is counting on some late help from the endorsements of former Gov. Michael Dukakis (D), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyMarkey challenges Democratic Senate campaign opponents to climate change debate Kennedy launches primary challenge against Markey Markey fundraises ahead of Kennedy primary challenge MORE (D-Mass.). He also has the endorsements of seven of the other nine members of the state’s congressional delegation, and if they can deliver votes for him in their home districts, it would go a long way toward improving his get-out-the-vote operation.

Of those not backing Capuano, Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) is backing Coakley and Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) has not endorsed.

Coakley was taking nothing for granted down the stretch. She had former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonTrump sues to block NY prosecutors' subpoena for his tax returns Most voters say there is too much turnover in Trump administration RNC spokeswoman on 2020 GOP primary cancellations: 'This is not abnormal' MORE voice a robocall going out to half a million primary voters on the eve of the election, and she stressed that she would fight till the end.

In a short sprint of a campaign, Coakley’s statewide name recognition proved an invaluable asset. While Pagliuca spent heavily from his own funds and even Khazei raised good money for the race, Coakley ran a safe campaign and stayed steady in the polls.

In order to take the race from her, Capuano will have to get a strong dose of the undecideds and probably steal some voters from the rest of the candidates.

As of press time Monday, none of the big-name Kennedys had weighed in on the race. The senator’s widow Vicki, his son Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and his nephew former Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) were seen as potential game-changers for one of the candidates (likely Capuano), but none of them saw fit to get involved.

The Republican primary is between state Sen. Scott Brown and perennial candidate Jack E. Robinson. Neither is expected to give the Democratic nominee much trouble in the Jan. 19 special election.

The polls for the primary close at 8 p.m. Tuesday.