Koutoujian Looks Back on Campaign, Hopes Community Activism Continues



By Alin K. Gregorian

Mirror-Spectator Staff

BOSTON — It was a primary campaign that was launched when Sen. John Kerry was named secretary of state by Present Barack Obama and then Rep. Edward Markey won the special election in June to become the state’s junior senator.

On October 15, the intense campaign by seven Democrats and three Republicans seeking to win the special primary in their respective parties to replace Markey ended, and state Sen. Katherine Clark of Melrose topped the Democratic side with 32 percent of the votes in the 24 cities and towns making up the Fifth Congressional District.

In second place was Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian with 22 percent of the vote. He won Watertown and Waltham handily.

For many in the Armenian-American community, this special primary became a personal mission. Though the result was not the one he had sought, in an interview on Monday, Koutoujian sounded upbeat and hopeful about the future.

“What was wonderful was that there were so many people that participated,” he said. “We ran the smartest, most organized, best financed campaign in the entire field.”

Koutoujian raised almost $1 million, more than any other candidate, all on the strength of his grassroots organization.

“It was the best field organization out there. I am very proud,” he said. “When I look back and speak with others with expertise on politics, I think there was nothing much we could have done differently.”

“We did phenomenally well and came in a very solid second place,” he said.

Exact numbers of Armenian-American voters are hard to find, but according to Koutoujian, there are about 3,000-4,000 Armenian-American registered voters in the district.

Turnout on election day was very low in the 243 precincts in total that form the district.

The Democratic candidates were, in addition to Clark and Koutoujian, state Senators Karen Spilka of Ashland, Will Brownsberger of Belmont; state Rep. Carl Sciortino of Medford; Martin Long, an Arlington author, and Stoneham resident Paul John Maisano, who works in the construction industry.

The three Republicans running for their party’s nomination were: actuary Tom Tierney of Framingham, Harvard nanophysics researcher Mike Stopa of Holliston and businessman and lawyer Frank J. Addivinola Jr. of Boston, who won the primary.

He said he was thrilled by the number of volunteers and their activism on his behalf.

Koutoujian said during the last weekend before the election, his volunteers and field workers had knocked on 16,000 doors. “I want this to continue. I don’t want this [defeat] to be the end of our community’s activism,” he said. He said he was particularly touched to see all ages involved, including teens working alongside volunteers in their 70s and 80s in pounding the pavement and making calls.

“Our community needs to engage in that manner,” he said. “We need to continue this momentum to maintain the same organization” for future races, he said.

“The Armenian community was very much there. It was wonderful to see my Armenian family and non-Armenian family come together,” he said.

Because of the race, he said, many of his traditional, non-Armenian constituents have became familiar with the special type of frenetic energy that the community can bring.

While he certainly seems to have an appetite for it, he said it was hard spending the bulk of the day on the go, attending fundraisers and introducing himself to potential voters, while still being sheriff.

Koutoujian did not specify what his plans are for the future. He noted that right now, he is happy to be sheriff, where his staff has welcomed him back happily.

He said, “To a person, all the corrections officers said they were sorry for my loss but that they were happy for themselves” for having their boss back.  

He added he was especially happy to spend time with his children, attending soccer and hockey practice and playing with his daughter.

“I am very happy being with my family. I am embracing these moments with them,” he said.

The special general election will take place on December 10.

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