McCann Senate Bid Aided By Split in Liberal Field

News Analysis

The field is shrinking in the race for the Democratic nomination for State Senator, but 13-term veteran Fancis McCann still appears likely to be challenged by a divided, in-fighting liberal field in next September's primary.

George Bachrach's decision last week to run as an Independent and bypass the primary, and the announcement from David Wylie that he would leave the race after three unsuccessful attempts, still left four possible progressive challengers to McCann in the running for the nomination.

Success in the Democratic primary virtually guarantees the State Senate seat in this heavily Democratic district, which includes sections of Brighton, Belmont and Watertown.

But for several elections, liberal challengers have fought among themselves, splitting the anti-McCann vote three or four ways.

This year, there were attempts to set up a binding liberal caucus to choose a challenger to McCann; "that idea is dead, though," Brighton State Rep. William Galvin, a possible contender for the office, said yesterday.

And if the liberal field, which may include Galvin, Cambridge resident Wendy Abt, Cambridge Civic Association activist Paul Walker and local lawyer Jarvis Kellogg, stays crowded, McCann will be able to rest easy.

Kellogg, who has run before, will probably draw the votes of many Cambridge progressives, while Galvin called Abt likely to pick up a certain amount of votes simply because she is the only women in the race.

Galvin, in turn, will capture most Brighton votes and do well in areas outside Cambridge.

And if McCann carries the Democratic primary, he is regarded by many as a shoo-in for November's final contest.

Bachrach's independent candidacy, which even he concedes is a "risky gambit," defies tradition in a district as solidly Democratic as any in the state.