Recounts in the contested Democratic primary for the Third Congressional District seat will go forward in Lawrence and Andover on Saturday following the multiple gas explosions that rocked Merrimack Valley Thursday night, Secretary of State William F. Galvin announced.
The location of the Lawrence recount will move to Guilmette School, located in a part of the city that has power. All other recounts scheduled for the weekend were unaffected, and the process should still wrap up by the Monday deadline, Galvin spokeswoman Debra O’Malley said.
Ballots were not damaged in the explosions, Galvin’s office said in a statement: “Lawrence City Hall, where the ballots are stored, was not affected by last night’s events.”
The gas-fueled devastation left one Lawrence teenager dead, and homes of thousands of local residents have been evacuated. The situation also marks yet another wrinkle in an already unpredictable race to replace retiring US Representative Niki Tsongas.
Dan Koh, a former chief of staff to Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston, petitioned for a recount after falling 122 votes short of Lori Trahan, a former congressional aide, in the 10-Democrat field. That triggered a sprawling process of election officials hand-counting 89,000 ballots cast in the Sept. 4 primary in each of the district’s 37 cities and towns.
“It should proceed,” Tsongas said in an interview with the Globe. She spent the day on the ground in Lawrence and said these explosions show why it’s important to have a member of Congress representing affected areas, to help residents and to work with the rest of the Massachusetts congressional delegation to bring all the necessary resources to bear.
“We need to be in a process [that can] assure in a timely fashion a new member of Congress” for the Third District, she said.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face Rick Green, a Pepperell Republican and auto parts magnate, and Mike Mullen, an independent candidate and IT director from Maynard, on Nov. 6.
“Our main concern right now is the people of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover as well as the hundreds of first responders who are still out there working this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and we are here to support them in anyway we can,” Trahan spokeswoman Gretchen Grosky said.
“Our thoughts are first and foremost with our neighbors who have been impacted by the fires and explosions. We need to support them and get to the bottom of what caused this,” Koh spokesman Justin Curtis said.
By Friday afternoon, 13 communities had completed their hand recounts, according to Galvin’s office. The recounts so far have resulted in nine additional votes for Trahan and two additional votes for Koh.Victoria McGrane can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @vgmac.