Kennedy dominates in Bristol County, despite losing statewide

SE Mass

SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) — If Congressman Joe Kennedy decides to return to electoral politics in the coming years, it appears he’ll start with a strong base in Southeastern Massachusetts.

Kennedy posted a dominant performance across Bristol County in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate primary, taking 62% of the vote. That was his best showing in any of the Bay State’s 14 counties, according to preliminary results compiled by The Associated Press.

Kennedy won every community in Bristol County, which includes a significant portion of the 4th Congressional District that the 39-year-old has represented since Barney Frank retired in 2012. He got 76% of the vote in Fall River, the county’s second-largest city, and posted roughly two-to-one margins in the other cities of New Bedford, Taunton and Attleboro.

But it was not enough to salvage Kennedy’s candidacy, particularly due to Markey’s strong margins in Greater Boston. The incumbent got 80% of the vote in Somerville, 79% in Cambridge and nearly 60% in the capital city itself, where Mayor Marty Walsh had endorsed him.

Overall more than 1.6 million votes were cast in the Democratic and Republican primaries, according to a preliminary AP count, likely setting a record for primary turnout in Massachusetts.

In the Democratic primary for the 4th District, Kennedy’s current seat, AP results showed three candidates split the spoils across the 34 cities and towns.

Former Brookline Select Board member Jesse Mermell posted strong margins in northern communities like Brookline and Newton, while Newton City Councilor Becky Grossman won Attleboro, Sharon and Seekonk.

Otherwise, though, Bristol County went strongly for Newton City Councilor Jake Auchincloss, who was favored to win the primary Wednesday night. Auchincloss took every Bristol County community in the 4th District except Attleboro and Seekonk, securing 25% and 24% of the vote in the cities of Fall River and Taunton, respectively.

Bristol County was tougher territory for Mermell, who was trailing Auchincloss on Wednesday night as counting continued. She didn’t win a single community in the county, coming in fifth in Fall River, sixth in Taunton and fourth in Attleboro.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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