BOSTON (AP) — Democrat Katherine Clark easily defeated three opponents Tuesday to win a vacant congressional seat and become the fifth woman to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. House.
After topping a crowded Democratic primary, the state senator ran a low-key general election campaign in a state where voters have grown weary of special elections.
At an election night party n Stoneham, Clark credited her win in part on her campaign’s ability to connect with voters.
“We had a message that resonated,” she said. “It’s time for Congress to get back to work for families.”
Republican Frank Addivinola, a Boston attorney, was Clark’s closest opponent. The other two candidates were James Aulenti and James Hall.
The 5th District is heavily Democratic and overwhelmingly backed Barack Obama over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in last year’s presidential contest. The district stretches from the coast to communities north and west of Boston including Waltham, Framingham and Medford.
The seat became vacant earlier this year when longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Edward Markey won a special election to fill the Senate seat left open after John Kerry was named secretary of state.
Clark will fill out the remainder of Markey’s two-year term and face re-election next fall.
Clark and Addivinola offered voters a stark choice on issues ranging from abortion to the federal health care law.
Clark supports abortion rights and said that while she’s disappointed with its website problems, she believes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is a historic law that could pave the way to even broader health care coverage for Americans.
Addivinola opposes 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 states.
Clark, 50, said her priorities also include ending gun-related violence, increasing the minimum wage, supporting Social Security and early education and guaranteeing pay equity for women.
Clark enjoyed a fundraising edge in the race, receiving 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 just $38,334 in donations during the same period and contributed more than $61,000 of his own money to his campaign.
Clark, a lawyer and former public interest attorney who was first elected to the Massachusetts Legislature in 2008, enters Congress as the newest member of a minority party in a chamber where Democrats have few levers of power. In the state Senate, she has been vice chair of the mental health committee and a member of the public health committee.
One bill Clark introduced, S. 503, would have eased the rules Massachusetts uses when looking at the assets of state residents who are seeking Medicaid nursing home benefits. Clark said she wanted the state to be able to reject applications from residents who had engaged in Medicaid planning but consider the intent when looking at residents who had simply made innocent gifts to loved ones without understanding the consequences.
Allison Bell added information to this report.