Political observers watching elections since the start of the 2008 recession have noticed that races across the levels of government – from local to state to federal elections – have all included some element of negativity and hostility from the electorate.
Largely that hostility has been aimed at incumbents over the past four to five years, but in Lynn on September 17 – and in other primary elections across Massachusetts on September 17 – it appears that some of that anger may be abating.
Incumbent Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy scored a strong victory last Tuesday, getting 4,680 of the 8,448 votes cast in the Mayoral primary, good enough for 57.5 percent of the vote. Council President Timothy Phelan received 3,428 votes, or about 42 percent of the votes cast. The two candidates will face off again in the final election on Nov. 5.
Given that the 8,448 votes represents just 16.6 percent of the registered voters in the city, the lackluster turnout would seem to indicate that most voters are not overly emotional or concerned about the state of the city. Typically, that kind of lack of interest has been a sign that voters are satisfied with the direction or policies of the incumbent and are therefore not looking to make a change.
On the other hand, the fact that only one Ward Race on Primary Day was going to result in a candidate going home, the low turnout could also be attributed to voter apathy about the primary race and not an indicator of the general feeling in advance of the main election in November.
For her part, Mayor Kennedy is taking nothing for granted, as she urged her supporters to continue the campaign through November.
“I need you to know, usually when you see a pretty significant win like that, it wakes a sleeping giant,” she said after the results came in.
For his part, Councilor Phelan also rallied his troops vowing to “get right back on (his) feet,” and continue the race into November.
Both sides, it seems, are mindful that the real race isn’t over until the votes are counted on Nov. 5.