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PPACA hangs over Massachusetts race

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BOSTON (AP) — The candidates seeking to fill Edward Markey’s old seat in the U.S. House are making their final appeals to voters in the Massachusetts’ 5th Congressional District.

The race pits Democratic state Sen. Katherine Clark of Melrose against Republican Frank Addivinola, a Boston attorney.

Both won their party primaries in October and have staked out different ground in what has been a low-profile race in a state growing weary of special elections.

The district, which stretches from the coast to communities north and west of Boston including Waltham, Framingham and Medford, is heavily Democratic and overwhelmingly backed President Barack Obama over his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, in last year’s presidential contest.

Clark has said her priorities include pay equity for women, ending gun-related violence, increasing the minimum wage and supporting Social Security and early education. She says she wants to “to get Congress back to work for middle-class families.”

Addivinola describes himself as a “small government kind of candidate.” He said the best way to help families is to turn around a stagnant economy, a problem he blamed in part on a lack of leadership in Washington which he said has helped fuel unemployment and underemployment.

The two have also split on issues ranging from abortion to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Clark said she supports abortion rights and, while she’s disappointed with its website problems, believe PPACA is a historic law which could pave the way to even broader health care coverage for Americans.

Addivinola is anti-abortion and believes that an unborn fetus is entitled to legal protections. He also criticized PPACA and said efforts to expand health coverage are best left up to individual states.

Clark enjoys a fundraising edge, having received nearly $1.2 million in political contributions through Nov. 20. She also poured an additional $250,000 of her own money into her campaign.

Addivinola collected $38,334 in donations during the same time period and contributed more than $61,000 of his own money to his campaign.

Clark has enjoyed the backing of big name Democrats including House Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, and Massachusetts’ two U.S. senators, Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey.

Addivinola has tried to use that support against Clark portraying her as a political insider beholden to party leaders. Clark, in return, has tried to cast Addivinola as a Tea Party Republican.

The winner will fill the seat left vacant by Edward Markey, who resigned after winning a special election to fill John Kerry’s U.S. Senate seat. Kerry had stepped down to become secretary of state.

Clark, 50, is a lawyer and former public interest attorney. She was first elected to the Legislature in 2008 and served seven years on the Melrose School Committee.

Addivinola, 53, writes and publishes medical school admission prep books and also teaches introduction to law at Northeastern University while completing a doctoral degree in law. He grew up in Malden but lives in Boston.

Two other candidates are on the ballot — Wellesley resident James Aulenti and Arlington resident James Hall.

The winner of Tuesday’s contest will face voters again next year.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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