BOSTON — The stage was set for the fall campaign in November after primary elections in redrawn congressional districts that saw victories for several Democratic incumbents, as well as a member of the Kennedy family making his first bid for public office.
Thursday's primaries were the first under a new Massachusetts political map which reflects the loss of one of the state's 10 seats in the U.S. House due to population shifts.
Turnout was mostly light, in part due the absence of any contested statewide primaries. The state's marquee race in November pits Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown against Democrat Elizabeth Warren, but neither faced opponents in their respective primaries.
Joseph Kennedy III, the 31-year-old son of former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II and grandson of the late Robert F. Kennedy, overwhelmed two other Democrats to win the Democratic nomination in the 4th District, where longtime incumbent Rep. Barney Frank is retiring.
Unofficial returns gave Kennedy more than 90 percent of the vote.
"I promise that no one will work harder than our campaign to earn every vote," Kennedy said in a statement Thursday night. "I look forward to having a real conversation over the next two months about the issues that matter to the people of the 4th."
Kennedy in November will face Sean Bielat, who won a three-way Republican primary in the district that stretches from the Boston suburbs of Newton and Brookline to the southeastern Massachusetts cities of Taunton, Attleboro and Fall River.
"For us, this is going to be very much an outreach campaign, knocking on doors," said Bielat, who ran unsuccessfully against Frank two years ago.
Freshman U.S. Rep. William Keating turned back a challenge from Bristol District Attorney Sam Sutter in the Democratic primary in the reconfigured 9th District.
Keating said he was happy with his win, but not taking anything for granted in November.
"We're shifting right into gear. We're back to work on Monday. It's all centered on moving the economy forward," he said.
Republicans Christopher Sheldon of Plymouth and Adam Chaprales of Barnstable were locked in a close race in the 9th District, which includes Cape Cod and much of the South Shore. The winner will face Keating.
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, of Springfield, appeared headed for a 13th term in the House after defeating two challengers in the redrawn 1st District encompassing much of western Massachusetts. There are no Republicans running in the district.
Neal represents the current 2nd District. Democratic U.S. Rep. John Olver, who has represented the current 1st District since 1991, is retiring at the end of this term.
U.S. Rep. James McGovern, of Worcester, the other only incumbent who faced a primary challenge, easily defeated Worcester resident William Feegbeh and does not have a Republican opponent in November.
Neither candidate in what could be the most hotly contested November congressional race in Massachusetts faced primary opposition on Thursday. Incumbent Democrat John Tierney of Salem and Richard Tisei, a former state senator and the 2010 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, have already been sparring for months in the 6th District.
Thursday's results set up several other November congressional races in Massachusetts.
— In the 3rd Congressional District, Carlisle businessman Jon Golnick defeated Tom Westford in the GOP primary to earn a rematch with incumbent Rep. Niki Tsongas, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary.
— U.S Rep. Edward Markey, the dean of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, was unopposed in the Democratic primary and will face Tom Tierney, of Framingham, who won a three-way Republican primary.
— In the 8th District, Joe Selvaggi, a Boston resident, defeated Matt Temperley of Quincy for the Republican nomination to face Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, who was not challenged in the primary.