[Image via newbostonpost]

In a surprise vote, delegates at this weekend’s Massachusetts Democratic convention endorsed Boston city councillor Josh Zakim over longtime incumbent Bill Galvin, setting up a race for the nomination in the Commonwealth’s September primary. The Boston Herald has more:

Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim, running for statewide office for the first time, beat out William Galvin, the 24-year incumbent secretary of the commonwealth, in a shock victory to win the Democratic endorsement at the party’s convention yesterday.

“This is just the beginning. We have just over three months until the primary on Sept. 4. I’m excited, grateful, humbled by the support we got at the convention today,” Galvin said. “We’re going to continue working on this.”

The results were a surprise to many – including Zakim, who was looking solely to make it onto the primary ballot, but who got a key hometown endorsement that boosted his chances:

Zakim, who earlier in the day said his goal was to reach 15 percent of the vote to make it onto the ballot for the primary in September, said his victory caught him off guard.

“We’re thrilled, surprised. I was up there, I had scribbled notes on a piece of paper. We were not expecting to give a second speech today,” Zakim said. “Going up against at 24-year incumbent, we wanted to just make sure we got on the ballot. Anything above that was great.”

In his speech, Zakim criticized Galvin for failing to take action to improve voting access, including changing voter registration deadlines.

“The unfortunate reality is that here, in the birthplace of American democracy, we are embarrassingly behind on voting rights and access,” Zakim said.

Zakim has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, who himself defeated a longtime Democratic incumbent when he beat John Tierney in 2014. Zakim also got a significant boost yesterday with the help of Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who asked the more than 800 Boston delegates to support the city councilor, according to reports.

Galvin, as might have been expected, had touted his longevity and record in the office – and also seemed surprised at the strength of Zakim’s support:

Speaking to the crowd of thousands of delegates, Galvin acknowledged his long tenure in the position is a reason to vote for him, rather than for someone else.

“My ask of you today is not to reward my past service or performance, my ask of you today is to use me and my skills and my knowledge and my expertise to protect the election process going forward,” Galvin said.

Unlike many of the other candidates running in contested races, Galvin’s campaign had little — if any — presence at the convention. Galvin’s campaign even eschewed the convention custom of supporters waving signs in front of the stage while the candidate speaks, leaving an empty space in the aisles that was filled for every other candidate.

About half an hour before the final tally was announced, a Galvin aide told reporters the secretary had left the convention.

Given the results, it’s virtual certainty that the candidates’ respective ages will be a key issue in September:

Anthony Rinaldi, an alternate delegate from Amesbury, said yesterday he is supporting Zakim because he thinks it is time for new ideas in the secretary of state’s office.

“When I was Galvin’s age, I knew it was time to retire,” Rinaldi said. “I think we need some new blood, some new progressive ideas.”

The Bay State results reflect some growing generational differences nationally in the support for candidates for the top state election job. In that way they are somewhat reminiscent of the North Dakota SoS race, where Republican delegates chose another candidate over longtime incumbent Al Jaeger – though Jaeger is back on the ballot as an independent with likely GOP support after the original candidate withdrew from the race. It will be interesting to see how these issues play out in the run-up to the primary, and how strong the eventual winner emerges for the general election.

Stay tuned …