Michael Albano to face Michael Franco after tight Democratic primary win

Last modified: Friday, September 07, 2012
Former Springfield Mayor Michael Albano won a tight three-way Democratic primary Thursday for the 8th Governor's Council District, besting Westfield School Committee member Kevin Sullivan 43 percent to 41 percent. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Albano was leading Sullivan by just over 1,000 votes. Gerry Roy, a Chicopee city councilor, finished a distant third, winning 17 percent of the vote.

Albano's victory set up a showdown with Michael Franco, a Holyoke Republican making his fourth bid for the Governor's Council. Franco beat Washington Selectman Michael Case 52 percent to 48 percent in the Republican primary.

The Governor's Council is charged with reviewing the governor's judicial nominations, vetting choices for judges, clerk magistrates and justices of the peace, among others. The 8th District includes Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties.

For Albano, the victory represented a return to politics after nearly a decade away. Now a Longmeadow resident, Albano stepped down as mayor of Springfield in 2003.

He cast himself as a "Kennedy liberal" and the progressive candidate in the race and was widely backed by the region's labor unions.

Albano could not be reached for comment Thursday, but in an interview with the Gazette earlier this month described himself as an adamant opponent of the death penalty and strong supporter of gay marriage and a woman's right to choose.

"I don't want to go backwards," Albano said then. "I don't want judges coming before us that would reverse the gains we've made."

In Sullivan, he faced a formidable opponent with the backing of many of the region's elected officials. Sullivan is the brother of Richard Sullivan, the former mayor of Westfield and the current secretary of energy and environment in Gov. Deval Patrick's administration. Kevin Sullivan had received the backing of state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg of Amherst, state Rep. John Scibak of South Hadley and Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan.

Franco, a local Tea Party organizer, has previously made three unsuccessful runs at the Governor's Council. In an interview earlier this month with the Gazette, Franco said he was running to hold the judiciary accountable.

"I see it's been politicized a whole lot," Franco said. "There's been a blending of people who serve in different branches of government. I want to prevent the politics and the corruption it creates."

The winner of the Albano-Franco contest will succeed Greenfield attorney Thomas Merrigan, who represented the 8th District on the council the last six years.