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Politics in Boston's old 9th used to be fairly predictable. The old inner city district had a hard-core Democratic electorate of Italians, Irish. Hacks and working class whites that had faithfully delivered about 40 per cent of its votes to conservative Democrat Louise Day Hicks in her campaigns for the School Committee, the Boston mayoralty and the U.S. Congress.
Large fields of progressive Democratic challengers had a way of bumping each other off in the primaries by diluting the anti-Hicks votes.
State-Senator Bob Cawley, hoping to defeat Hicks in the 1972 Democratic primary race for Congress, led a major redistricting move in 1971 which cut away three Dorchester wards--major Hicks strongholds--from the 9th and added seven upper middle class suburban towns to the district
Before the redistricting, a map of the 9th District looked like a long, irregular polygon. Now it doesn't look like much of anything except a classic case of gerrymandering. The "new 9th" is an irrational district which combines urban with suburban problems and wealthy property towners with poverty line constituents.
Cawley's hopes for a primary victory collapsed as Hicks still captured over is percent of the votes and six challengers--including Cawley ere once again left in the rubble.
Appearing to the 65 per cent who had voted against Hicks on primary day and promising new responsive representation for the new diverse district Chy Councillor John "Joe" Moakley declared himself in. In dependent while avowedly remaining a Democrat at heart and urned the November general election for Congress into a contest between the Old and the New politics in the 9th District.
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