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Michael Albano returns to politics with emphatic victory over Michael Franco in 8th District Governor’s Council race

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Democrat Michael Albano marked his return to politics with an emphatic victory over Republican Michael Franco in the 8th District Governor’s Council race Tuesday.

Albano, the former mayor Springfield, looked to be out of politics for good in 2003, when he left Springfield City Hall under the cloud of a federal corruption investigation.

A number of Albano associates were ultimately convicted, but the mayor was never charged.

Franco, who was making his fourth run for the council, had sought to capitalize on any lingering voter concerns stemming from that case, repeatedly labeling Albano the “kickback kid.”

But the message did not resonate with voters Tuesday. Albano won a majority of votes in all four counties — Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire — that make up the 8th District.

With about one-third of the vote counted, Albano led Franco by 67 percent to 33 percent.

Albano said he was thankful for voters’ support.

“I understand this is a unique opportunity for Michael Albano and I am thankful to the citizens of western Massachusetts and I’m going to work hard on their behalf,” Albano said in a telephone interview Tuesday night.

Albano, who won a tight three-way Democratic primary in September, campaigned as a progressive Democrat, saying he would back judicial nominees who support gay marriage, affirmative action and abortion rights.

“I am going to advance the progressive values I advanced over the course of the campaign,” Albano said.

He added that his first priority will be to help identify candidates for the seven judgeships in the four western counties, including one in Northampton.

Albano said he will meet with Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray Wednesday to help “get ahead” on those appointments.

Albano will succeed Thomas Merrigan, a Greenfield attorney who represented western Massachusetts for six years on the council.

The eight-member Governor’s Council is responsible for reviewing and approving the governor’s appointments for judicial, clerk magistrate and justice of the peace positions, as well as seats on the appellate tax and parole boards.

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