Former Peabody state Rep. John Slattery was gracious to both his main opponents in the Senate race Thursday night as he made his concession speech at the Peabody .
Slattery, who finished well behind Salem city councilor Joan Lovely in the Democratic primary, commended Lovely particularly for her hard work over the past several months.
According to total vote counts, Lovely won with 7,450, Slattery came in second with 4,418, Mary-Ellen Manning picked up 2,610 and Edward Carroll received 309.
"I think Joan Lovely will probably be the next state senator. She worked hard and she ran a good campaign, so congratulations to Joan," Slattery told a roomful of supporters, as it became apparent he trailed Lovely by too big a margin even without the vote tallies in from her hometown of Salem.
Slattery's concession speech came shortly before 10 p.m. as official results from city and town clerks trickled in — it quickly became apparent there was no direct reporting from individual poll sites.
"I do congratulate Joan, I congratulate Mary-Ellen for a race well run," Slattery said.
"I feel like we ran a very good campaign; we had lots of support, it just didn't work out the way we had hoped," he said, in between thanking numerous volunteers and his family for their efforts over the past several months.
"I still do believe that the working class is the place for a Democrat to be. I still think it's good to be a progressive Democrat in Massachusetts. You've got to run hard, you've got to remember where you came from, and if you're a Democrat, you've got to be fighting for working class values," he said.
For Slattery, 54, this represents a third unsuccessful attempt at public office since stepping down from his seat on Beacon Hill. He sought the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor in 2002 and ran against former Mayor Michael Bonfanti in 2005 before his bid now for retiring Sen. Fred Berry's seat.
Slattery, who continues to work as a trial attorney, told reporters Thursday night he's not ready to decide yet whether he'll be back again or if this will be his last foray into the political scene.
He said he believes he campaigned on issues important to the district and feels the geography of the candidates may have contributed somewhat to the results (i.e. two candidates coming from Peabody). "I think I spent the month of July in Beverly," he said, but it didn't seem to matter Thursday.
"I don't want to take anything away from Joan," he quickly added, again commending her for a hard fought campaign.
Among the supporters at the AOH Thursday night were former city councilor Lou Cersosimo, Peabody state Rep. Joyce Spiliotis and her husband Dick Jarvis, former Beverly state Rep. and city councilor Michael Cahill, several Peabody firefighters and police officers and Peabodyite Michael Schulze.
For those who remember, Schulze ran against Slattery in the 1994 Democratic primary for state representative. Schulze recalled that race also included former city councilor Bill Toomey and Wally Birmingham.
Slattery obviously won that one, but Schulze said the two have gotten along every since. He said he does believe Berry's late endorsement of Lovely had some influence on Thursday's results (at least with voters who were not already Slattery supporters), just as when the Peabody native backed Mayor Ted Bettencourt last fall.
Peabody Fire Capt. Joe DiFranco, a former union president, said he was surprised at the criticism Berry heaped on Slattery for receiving a wealth of union support in the race. He noted that Berry accepted a good deal of that same union support over the years.
Schulze also noted that Lovely has not been out of the political scene for 10 years and was backed by both an effective and popular mayor in Kim Driscoll and an effective popular senator in Berry. "Plus she put in the work," he said.