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Massachusetts Primary for Tsongas Seat Too Close to Call

Lori Trahan, Daniel Koh find themselves in a nail-biter

Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., is retiring and a crowded field of 10 Democrats jostled to succeed her. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., is retiring and a crowded field of 10 Democrats jostled to succeed her. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The race to replace Massachusetts Democrat Niki Tsongas remained too close to call Wednesday morning, with just 52 votes separating the top two candidates in the 3rd District Democratic primary. 

With all precincts counted, Lori Trahan led Daniel Koh, 18,368 votes to 18,316, according to The Associated Press. 

Tsongas’ decision to retire created a rare open seat in the state’s all-Democratic delegation, an opportunity that attracted a crowded field of 10 candidates with eye-catching résumés, many of whom moved to the district to launch their campaigns.

Koh, the descendant of Korean and Lebanese immigrants, would be the first Asian-American to represent Massachusetts in Congress if elected. He holds bachelor’s and MBA degrees from Harvard, and was a former chief of staff to Boston Mayor Martin Walsh. He led the field in fundraising, with over $3 million raised through Aug. 15, the end of the pre-primary reporting period, and had over $800,000 in the bank, according to Federal Election Commission documents. . 

He came under fire from a primary rival, state Sen. Barbara L’Italien, over his response during his time in the mayor’s office to an employee’s sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor. The allegation was the subject of a lawsuit suggesting Koh had failed to protect the woman. Koh’s campaign accused L’Italien of twisting the facts and pointed out that the mayor’s office investigated and fired the supervisor.

Trahan, a business consultant and onetime chief of staff to Tsongas’ predecessor, Democrat Martin T. Meehan, stressed her local roots and ties to the district

She boasted endorsements from The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, and raised $1.2 million through Aug. 15 with $480,000 in cash on hand.

Whoever win the Democratic primary will next face businessman Rick Green, who ran unopposed in the GOP primary. And the Democrat would be heavily favored in a district Hillary Clinton carried by 23 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solid Democratic

Watch: House Ratings Change in Favor of Democrats

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