NEWTON (CBS/AP) – Jake Auchincloss has won a packed primary to become the Democratic nominee in the race to fill the U.S. House seat being vacated by Rep. Joe Kennedy III in Massachusetts.
The Newton city councilor, a former Marine, edged out Jesse Mermell in the crowded field for the open 4th Congressional District — a contest that took until early Friday to decide because of a deluge of mailed-in ballots that overwhelmed several cities and towns.
With 100-percent of the precincts reporting, Auchincloss beat Mermell by just 2,033 votes.
Mermell officially conceded the race Friday afternoon.
Check: District 4 Primary Results
“We put together a full district campaign. It wasn’t just my supporters here in Newton who had seen me operate at City Hall over the last five years,” Auchincloss told reporters Friday afternoon. “This district is diverse, and I was able to put together a full district base of support and I’m going to be a full district member of Congress.”
Auchincloss also added, “I want to especially thank Jesse Mermell. I have enormous respect for the passion and purpose that Jesse brought to this race.”
Nearly 1 million voters, skittish over the coronavirus pandemic, used the mail option for Tuesday’s primary. A state judge late Wednesday had approved a petition from Secretary of State Bill Galvin asking for more time for cities and towns to complete their vote tallies.
“I think it was important that every ballot that was lawfully cast before 8 p.m. on Tuesday was counted,” Auchincloss said. “I’m proud that the integrity of this election is on display for the entire country as we anticipate a November 3rd election in which this President is going to try to undermine people’s confidence in the results.”
After graduating from Harvard College in 2010, Auchincloss served as a captain in the U.S. Marines. He commanded infantry in Afghanistan in 2012 and led an anti-narcotics platoon in Panama in 2014. He was elected to the Newton City Council in 2015. He also worked at a cybersecurity startup and as a senior manager at Liberty Mutual’s innovation lab.
Auchincloss, a moderate, was also briefly registered as a Republican in part of 2013 and 2014 while he worked to help elect GOP Gov. Charlie Baker — a background his primary rivals had publicly questioned.
He listed among his priorities making “health care a right, not a job perk,” protecting reproductive rights and combating the pollution that causes climate change. During the campaign, Auchincloss also said he wanted to help rebuild the country that sent his grandfather — “a poor Jewish kid” — to college during WWII.
Auchincloss beat out fellow Democrats Mermell, Becky Grossman, Alan Khazei, Natalia Linos, Isshane Leckey, Ben Sigel and Chris Zannetos.
Kennedy opted not to seek reelection so he could challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Edward Markey in the Senate Democratic primary, but lost that bid Tuesday, becoming the first member of the Kennedy political dynasty to lose a congressional race in Massachusetts.
Auchincloss will face Republican Julie Hall, an Air Force veteran who defeated David Rosa on the GOP ticket Tuesday, in the Nov. 3 general election for the right to represent the heavily Democratic district.
The district winds from the Boston suburbs of Newton and Brookline south through Attleboro, Taunton and Fall River.
The few other members of Massachusetts’ all-Democratic congressional delegation who had faced primary opponents — Reps. Richard Neal, Stephen Lynch and Seth Moulton — all breezed through Tuesday’s runoff.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)