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Keller @ Large: Could independent Massachusetts voters give Nikki Haley a boost?

Keller @ Large: Preview of Massachusetts primary
Keller @ Large: Preview of Massachusetts primary 02:39

BOSTON - Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair Steve Kerrigan says this year's election is "the most consequential one in our lifetimes," but he acknowledges there is little suspense about the Super Tuesday primary being held here on March 5. 

Tuesday's Michigan Democratic primary is being scrutinized for signs of backlash against President Joe Biden over his handling of the war in Gaza, but Kerrigan says that while that may happen there, "I don't see it as much here. I do understand there are movements around the country, but I don't hear about that much around the Commonwealth." 

That's bad news for Dean Phillips, the hapless former congressman who got waxed by Biden in New Hampshire and is the only remaining active challenger on the Massachusetts ballot. 

On the Republican side, state GOP Chair Amy Carnevale sees the polls showing former President Donald Trump winning big here but wonders if independents might give his last remaining challenger, Nikki Haley, a boost. 

"The ballots being requested by Republicans and independents have exceeded those numbers that we've seen in the past," she says. "There is broad support for Donald Trump being the nominee once again. I think the wild card though is the number of unenrolled voters and how many of those voters will choose the Republican ballot when they go in to vote on the 5th." 

Carnevale's future as party chair is also at stake in the down-ballot state committee races, with hard-right Republicans looking to regain control. "I have focused on the business of the party, really trying to professionalize the organization and support candidates who are electable in Massachusetts," she says. "So that's my vision." 

But for Kerrigan, overseeing a party in near-total control of the state, there is far less suspense. "For me it's a moment of great pride," he says. 

Haley will have to hold Trump under 50% of the vote to have a shot at winning any delegates, and even though she's planning a rally here this weekend, here's guessing her chances are slim. If we learned one thing from the last Massachusetts primary, where local Democrats joined others around the country in supporting Biden despite Elizabeth Warren's presence on the ballot, it's that voters here are not immune from national trends. 

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