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Brown leads in UMass poll for next governor

AMHERST — Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown leads all potential candidates in next year’s Massachusetts gubernatorial race, according to a new UMass poll released by the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Brown’s closest theoretical competition would come from former Congressman Joseph Kennedy II, who would be in a virtual tie with Brown, 42-41.

Respondents were asked about their likely vote choice in several head-to-head electoral contests between potential Republican and Democratic candidates, including Brown, Kennedy, former Republican state Sen. Richard Tisei, State Treasurer Steve Grossman, a Democrat, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, a Democrat, and former state Secretary of Administration and Finance Charlie Baker, a Republican (who ran for governor in 2010.)

Gov. Deval Patrick has announced that he will not seek a third term in 2014.

“Voters continue to have good feelings for Scott Brown, even after his 2012 Senate loss,” said Ray La Raja, associate director of the UMass poll. “For a Democratic state like Massachusetts, Beacon Hill is a safer spot to put a well-liked Republican rather than next to Mitch McConnell in Washington.”

“Although he’s been out of office since 1999, former Rep. Kennedy’s popularity demonstrates the continued electoral relevance of the Kennedy name in the minds of the state’s voters,” said Tatishe Nteta, associate director of the UMass Poll.

“A Kennedy-Brown match-up poses an intriguing twist on political history in Massachusetts,” said La Raja. “On the Democratic side, you have political and economic aristocracy against a Republican with an image as the guy-next-door in the pickup. That’s a far cry from a century ago when the Democrat Kennedys were seen as the Irish upstarts against the GOP Brahmins.”

“Keep in mind that the campaigns haven’t begun, so voters gravitate toward names they know and like. Newcomers still have a chance as the campaigns heat up.”

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