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Editorial: Primary ahead

In two weeks, voters across Massachusetts will take the initial step in finding the newest member to the U.S. Senate.

Tuesday, April 30, has been set aside this year as the day for the primary election, time for the two major political parties to winnow this year’s fields of contestants in what has been a compressed election season. It was created by the selection of former Sen. John Kerry as President Barack Obama’s choice to be the U.S. Secretary of State for his second term of office. Once the choices are made through the party primaries, the candidates left standing will set their sights on June 25, and will have just shy of two months to make their cases to the electorate.

Not exactly an easy task.

It will call for a level of organization that allows the candidate to have to hit the ground smoothly, and maximize their resources in getting their particular message out. To date, it’s fair to say that the five candidates — Edward J. Markey and Stephen F. Lynch for the Democrats and Gabriel E. Gomez, Michael J. Sullivan and Daniel B. Winslow for the Republicans — have had varying degrees of success with their campaigns in this area.

It’s always a plus to have the candidates making their case here in western Massachusetts, as the three Republicans did during a “meet and greet” Sunday evening in Orange. Such events provide voters with a more unscripted glimpse of the candidates, one that may be more telling than all the campaign literature and endorsements can offer.

Unfortunately, the compressed campaign doesn’t allow time for many of these types of events. Therefore, candidates are forced to spend the bulk of their time seeking votes in the heavily populated corners of the state, a disservice to Massachusetts residents living outside the Boston and Route 128 sphere.

The real question, however, may be whether this matters to the voters. The usual indicators, like lawn signs, bumper stickers or letters to the editor don’t seem to be much in play here.

Does this mean that voters are indifferent? We’d like to think this isn’t the case when electing someone to a seat for the U.S. Senate. Even if the choices don’t excite you, residents should take the time to do their part in our democracy.

We’ll see in two weeks.

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