BOSTON (AP) — Voters in Massachusetts' 5th Congressional District are contending with snow and slush as they trek to the polls to decide who gets to fill the U.S. House seat vacated when Edward Markey moved to the U.S. Senate.
Tuesday's contest pits Democratic state Sen. Katherine Clark of Melrose against Republican Frank Addivinola, a Boston attorney, and two other candidates — Wellesley resident James Aulenti and Arlington resident James Hall.
Clark and Addivinola both won their party primaries in October and have staked out starkly different policies in what has been a low-profile race in a state growing weary of special elections. Addivinola had criticized Clark for agreeing to just one televised debate.
The district stretches from the coast to communities north and west of Boston including Waltham, Framingham and Medford. It is heavily Democratic and overwhelmingly backed Barack Obama over Mitt Romney in last year's presidential contest.
Markey vacated the seat earlier this year after winning a special election to fill John Kerry's Senate seat after Kerry stepped down to become secretary of state.
Clark, 50, has said her priorities include pay equity for women, ending gun-related violence, increasing the minimum wage and supporting Social Security and early education. She says she wants to "to get Congress back to work for middle-class families."
Addivinola, 53, describes himself as a "small government kind of candidate." He said the best way to help families is to turn around a stagnant economy — a problem he blamed in part on a lack of leadership in Washington which he said has helped fuel unemployment and underemployment.
The two also have split on issues ranging from abortion to the federal health care law.
Clark enjoys a fundraising edge, having received nearly $1.2 million in political contributions through Nov. 20. She also poured an additional $250,000 of her own money into her campaign.
Addivinola collected $38,334 in donations during the same time period and contributed more than $61,000 of his own money to his campaign.
If Clark wins, she will become only the fifth woman sent to the U.S. House by Massachusetts voters.
Tuesday's winner will face voters again next year.
Polls are open until 8 p.m.