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Tara Jacobs springs upset in Governor's Council primary

Democratic candidate for Governor's Council Tara Jacobs.
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Democratic candidate for Governor's Council Tara Jacobs.

North Adams school committee member Tara Jacobs has won the Democratic primary for the western Massachusetts seat on the Governor's Council. She bested three other candidates in a tight race that was not determined until midday Wednesday.

Jacobs and Springfield City Councilor Michael Fenton were locked in a battle too close to call on Tuesday night. When it became apparent nothing would be decided until morning, Jacobs went to sleep despite the suspense.

"I managed to actually get myself a good, solid, six hours last night," Jacobs said Wednesday afternoon.

And in the morning, she pulled away, with Fenton conceding around midday. According to the Associated Press, as of mid-afternoon Wednesday, Jacobs stood at 33.1%, or 27,571 votes with 95.9% of the expected vote counted. Fenton was at 29.8%. Shawn Allyn was in third place at 20.5%, ahead of Jeffrey Morneau with 16.6%.

Jacobs' victory can be considered an upset — she was far behind the other three candidates in fundraising. State campaign finance data indicates she had just $732 left in her campaign account as of the end of August. Fenton, meanwhile, had spent $65,573 in August alone. Jacobs was also the only candidate who was not a lawyer from Hampden County.

Jacobs said the victory made her feel “honored and gratified.” She did acknowledge she struggled in the Springfield area and that will be her focus heading into November's general election.

"I really need to build unity among the Democrats in Hampden County especially," she said.

Up next, Jacobs will face Republican John Comerford, of Palmer, in November’s general election. The winner will replace former Springfield mayor and retired judge Mary Hurley, who is not running for another term.

As for Fenton, in a Facebook post announcing his concession to Jacobs, he congratulated his rival. He said of his own campaign: “I could not be more proud of the support and encouragement we got along the way from friends near and far.”

The Governor’s Council has several duties, including approval of Parole Board members, as well as pardons and commutations. But the most prominent function: Confirming judicial appointments from the District Court level all the way to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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