Massachusetts held its Presidential Primary on March 8, 1988. On the Democratic side, Governor (and eventual nominee) Mike Dukakis won easily with 418,256 votes. He was trailed by Jesse Jackson with 133,141, Dick Gephardt with 72,944, Al Gore with 31,631, Paul Simon with 26,176, Gary Hart with 10,837 and Bruce Babbitt with 4222. The Republican primary was won by then Vice President (and eventual nominee and President) George Bush with 141,113 votes. He was trailed by Bob Dole with 63,392, Jack Kemp with 16,791, Pat Robertson with 10,891, Pete Dupont with 3522 and Alexander Haig with 1705.
The state primary was held on September 15 and the general election on November 8. In the presidential race, the Dukakis-Bentsen ticket received 1,401,415 votes to 1,194,635 for Bush-Quayle. For the US Senate, Ted Kennedy defeated Republican Joe Malone, 1,693,344 to 884,267. Chet Atkins was unopposed for reelection in the Fifth Congressional District.
Locally, Lowell City Councilor Bob Kennedy defeated incumbent Herb Connolly in the Democratic Primary for Governors Councillor by a single vote, 14,716 to 14,715 in a case that was ultimately decided by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. In the First Middlesex Senate District, Democratic incumbent Paul Sheehy was unopposed as were state representatives John Cox, Ed LeLacheur and Susan Rourke.
In Middlesex County officers, two Lowell residents ran for County Commissioner in an “elect two” race although both winners could not be from the same city or town. That rule didn’t matter because while Ed Kennedy of Lowell topped the ticket with 34,910 votes, Tom Larkin of Bedford won the second seat with 31,103. Lowell’s Matt Donahue finished third with 29,047 votes and Somerville’s Joe Macaluso finished fourth with 26,938. Kennedy and Larkin were unopposed in the general election. In other county offices, Edward Sullivan was reelected Clerk of Courts and Ed Early Register of Deeds, both without opposition.