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Too Close to Call in Middlesex DA Race

September 5, 2018

LOWELL -- Nearly four hours after polls closed Tuesday night, the race for Middlesex District Attorney was too close to call on Tuesday night.

A slight lead was held by incumbent Marian Ryan with slightly less than 54 percent of the vote over Donna Patalone, with 66 percent of the districts reporting, according to numbers used by Patalano’s campaign.

The winner of Tuesday night’s primary victory will be the only name appearing on the ballot in November’s general election. No Republican candidates are running for the position, though write-in candidates are allowed.

Patalano expressed pride in her campaign, noting she was an unknown candidate 10 months ago.

“We ran a grass-roots campaign of a lifetime,” she said. “People understood the message.”

Ryan, a Belmont resident, has held the seat since April 2013, when then-Gov. Deval Patrick appointed her to fill Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone’s unexpired four-year term. With an absence of Republican candidates in the 2014 general election, Ryan went on to defeat Michael Sullivan, the Middlesex Clerk of courts, in that year’s winner-take-all Democratic primary.

Patalano resigned from her position as Suffolk County District Attorney’s Chief of Professional Integrity & Ethics to campaign full time for the Middlesex DA position. The Winchester Democrat also worked in health-care management before going into law school and spending time as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney.

Patalano attacked Ryan throughout her campaign, saying transformative change is needed in the DA’s Office.

Patalano criticized Ryan for not releasing data pertaining to her policies. She labeled the DA’s as a “black box” when it comes to releasing such data as bail requests and pretrial incarcerations, as well as who is prosecuted versus who is diverted and the outcomes of diversion programs.

Ryan has countered she has built a partnership with the Northeastern Criminal Justice Bureau and with the American Institute of Research to build databases. She added she has already been addressing inequities that she is sure exists -- regardless of the lack of data.

A couple hours before polls closed Tuesday, Lowell voter Anne Furtado stood outside Reilly Elementary School next to a sign brandishing Patalano’s name. She said she was backing the group Progressive Democrats of Lowell, who endorsed Patalano.

“I want to vote for a Democrat that’s going to fight the Democrats to do what’s right,” Furtado said. “I know that sounds crazy. i don’t want the status-quo Democrat. I want somebody who is going to really represent the needs of the people and not their own needs.”

Ryan made multiple appearances in Lowell on Tuesday, including at Robinson Middle School, where she spoke to Marcel Rosenberg about her priorities, including the opioid issue.

“If she could take the time, this late in the game, and she’s here, then she deserved my vote,” Rosenberg said, moments after casting a ballot Tuesday night.

Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis.

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