In today's Telegram & Gazette:
LEOMINSTER - Political newcomer Natalie Higgins won the Democratic nomination for state representative, defeating veteran City Councilor Richard Marchand.
Running a campaign that focused on reaching out to voters and then reinforcing that on primary day with follow-up calls and offers of rides to the polls, Ms. Higgins, 28, defeated Mr. Marchand 1,475 to 1,437.
"I am just so proud of my volunteers and my family and the organizations that and office holders who had the courage to endorse a new candidate," she said after votes were tallied.
Ms. Higgins said after several months of constant campaigning she is ready for two more months out meeting people and pushing for a Democratic victory in November. She will face Republican Thomas Ardinger in the general election.
The two candidates showed different styles as they worked to bring their supporters out to the polls. Ms. Higgins spent the morning visiting polling places, but her campaign focused on contacting voters by phone or in person to get them out to vote.
Working out of her campaign headquarters on Lexington Circle, she and her workers called 1,200 voters during the day, reminding them to vote and offering them a ride if they needed one.
"We're running a very unorthodox campaign by Leominster standards," Ms. Higgins said.
Although she had a few vehicles with signs on them near the polls and a few people holding signs, her big focus was calling the voters to make sure they voted. Seeking advice from veteran campaigners, including former Worcester Mayor Joseph C. O'Brien, she said she ran a personal contact-heavy campaign, in which she said 18,000 voters were contacted personally and 36,000 with mailings.
Ms. Higgins is executive director of the nonprofit Public Higher Education Network. Her campaign got a boost through donations and endorsements from several unions.
Mr. Marchand had help from a couple of veteran campaigners. State Rep. Dennis Rosa, D-Leominster, the man the two candidates are hoping to replace when he retires from office at the end of the year, was at City Hall holding a sign for Mr. Marchand. He said he and Mr. Marchand go back 27 years.
"We got on the City Council together in 1989," he said. "We were both campaigning and supporting each other. I saw how he works."
Mr. Rosa said he and Mr. Marchand share the same values.
"We're a little more on the conservative Democrat side, but compassionate," he said.
Also campaigning with Mr. Marchand was former long-time City Councilor Robert Salvatelli, who retired from the council after the last city election. Mr. Salvatelli, who also taught and was a school administrator in Leominster for many years, was holding a sign at the Leominster Veterans Center polling place.
Ms. Higgins said after the vote was announced that she received a call from Mr. Marchand pledging his support in the final election in November.