Published in the February 25, 2016 edition


NORTH READING – Super Tuesday cometh and Massachusetts will finally have its say in the nation’s most volatile presidential race in decades.

The Massachusetts Presidential Primary will take place on Tuesday, March 1 and Town Clerk Barbara Stats is predicting a high turnout, perhaps as high as 60 percent. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and all voters will cast ballots at St. Theresa Church Parish Hall at 51 Winter St.

According to the latest voter registration numbers, North Reading has 10,841 registered voters. Most of these – nearly 60 percent – are “unenrolled” voters, the legal designation for so–called “independent” voters. Twenty–four percent are registered Democrats and 16 percent are registered Republicans. The hard numbers are like this: Unenrolled, 6,444; Democrats, 2,548 and Republicans, 1,786.

Because Massachusetts is an “open primary state,” Unenrolled voters may choose either a Democratic or Republican ballot or a Green–Rainbow or United Independent Party (UIP) ballot. However, persons registered as Democrats, Republicans, Green–Rainbow and UIP may only vote under that party’s ballot.

North Reading has four voters registered as Green–Rainbow Party members, one fewer than the five persons seeking its presidential nomination. There are 29 registered as UIP voters and there’s a UIP ballot for this election. However, there are no candidates to choose from for any office on the UIP ballot.

And then there were five …

On the Republican ballot, attrition has taken its toll in a major league way, culling the original herd of 13 candidates by over 60 percent, from 13 to five.

On the Democratic ballot, the drop out rate has been less extreme but the race was much less crowded to begin with. Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley left the race a few weeks ago, leaving three names on the Democratic ballot.

Two of those names need no introduction at this point: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The third is Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, a San Diego businessman who announced his candidacy in October 2015 and got his name on the ballot here and elsewhere. De La Fuente received 95 votes in the New Hampshire primary.

The drop out rate has been much more pronounced on the Republican ballot, which went to print with 13 candidates for the GOP nomination. But voters who go to the polls on March 1, “Super Tuesday,” will find only five still in the race: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and John Kasich.

Although still on the ballot, the following candidates have “suspended” or outright ended their campaigns: former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, former New York Governor George Pataki, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Jeb Bush became the latest casualty on Saturday, following his poor showing in the South Carolina primary.

Massachusetts will be one of 13 states holding either a primary or caucuses on March 1. The others are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, (caucuses), Georgia, Minnesota, (caucuses), Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming (caucuses).

State and town committee races also

In addition to the presidential candidates, the Republican and Democratic ballots include races for State Committeeman and State Committeewoman in the First Essex and Middlesex District.

For State Committeeman on the Republican ballot, incumbent Lucas J. Noble of Gloucester is seeking re-election against Lawrence Brennan of Georgetown.

For State Committeewoman on the Republican ballot, North Reading resident Janet Vincze is facing Boxford resident Angela Hudak.

There are 22 candidates for Republican Town Committee, although voters may cast ballots for up to 35. The are:

Jeff Yull, Brad Jones Jr., Michael Prisco, Robert Mauceri, Lisa Macchi, Charles Garlington, Brad Jones Sr., Peter Spinelli, Irene Yull, Liane Gonzalez, Rex Whitmore, Janet Vincze, Linda Jones, Jean Jones, Joseph Lidoski, Joyce Jenney, Gordon Hall, Richard Mottolo, Christopher Vincze, Hugo Wiberg, Laina Simone and Lee Atlas.

There are no candidates for State Committeeman on the Democratic side and only one person running unopposed for Democratic State Committeewoman: Kathleen Pasquina of West Newbury.

Likewise, there are only five candidates for Democratic Town Committee: Dianne Heeley, Georgette DiGiovanni, Nicholas DiGiovanni, Susan Holsing and Patrick Gamelin.

The five names listed on the Green–Rainbow Party ballot are: Sedinam Curry, Jill Stein, William Kreml, Kent Mesplay and Darryl Cherney. There are no candidates for state committeeman, state committeewoman or town committee.

As stated, if you’re registered in the United Independent Party, you can only vote under that party’s ballot but there are no candidates for president or any other officer or town committee on the ballot. Two weeks ago, Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin warned thousands of Massachusetts voters enrolled in the UIP that they are not really “unenrolled” voters – the legal designation for so-called “independent” voters in Massachusetts – and therefore won’t be able to vote in the Democratic, Republican or Green-Rainbow Party primaries.

The United Independent Party earned official status as a party in Massachusetts in 2014, when Evan Falchuk, who was running for governor, won 3.3 percent of the vote.

Concerned about confusion on election day, Galvin mailed a notice to all Massachusetts voters registered in the UIP that they are registered in a “minor” party not to be confused with being an independent voter and that Wednesday, Feb. 10, was the final day for voters to register to vote in the upcoming state primary or to change their party status.