Billerica state Rep. Marc Lombardo was upbeat Thursday afternoon as he joined a rally for fellow Republicans, U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and congressional candidate Richard Tisei.
The message that day was one of bipartisanship, of "people over party."
Amid the hoopla at the VFW Solomon Post 8819, as Brown and Tisei rubbed elbows with another GOP moderate, Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, Lombardo was asked how he feels about his re-election chances heading into the final sprint.
"I feel good about this one, I really do," Lombardo said, adding that he and his campaign staff will be watching the Election Night returns at the VFW. "We've done some tremendous outreach heading into the final stretch."
Lombardo, seeking a second term, added that he felt he's done as much as he could to prove to Billerica voters that he should return to Beacon Hill for another spin.
Independent challenger James O'Donnell is angling to make sure that does not happen. His latest mailing ripped his opponent for a Beacon Hill Roll Call report that named Lombardo as having the seventh-worst attendance record in the House of Representatives.
Lombardo's exact attendance rate, at 88.6 percent, did not appear on any of O'Donnell's fliers, but when asked last week to reflect on his campaign just days from the election, O'Donnell stuck to the positive.
"We've knocked on the doors and my mailers have generated quite a lot of response," he said. "I feel as best as any candidate can feel just four or five days out."
O'Donnell, who will be spending election night at Chung King Rick's Cafe, did say he found it funny that his opponent was a part of a Brown rally that played off the freshman senator's bipartisan spirit.
"He's only gone with his party line about 96 percent of the time," O'Donnell quipped. "One of the reasons I jumped into this is because I'll reach across that aisle."
The battle for the 22nd Middlesex District is one of eight contested races for House of Representatives seats in the Merrimack Valley. Billerica, however, is the only Greater Lowell suburb to have its own representative.
The 19th Middlesex District, which includes Wilmington and Tewksbury, has witnessed no shortage of passion. Sitting Tewksbury Selectman Douglas Sears, a Republican, has put up an aggressive challenge to longtime incumbent James Miceli of Wilmington. The Democratic state representative from Wilmington said Friday he feels "very, very good" about his reelection chances.
Miceli, who has kept his seat for 35 years, was criticized in Sears' most recent 11,000-resident direct-mailer by several groups, including Citizens for Limited Taxation.
The mailer, which Sears described Friday as "nonscatalogical," will reach mailboxes within the next few days.
In the 36th Middlesex District, the battle between Democratic state Rep. Colleen Garry of Dracut and her Republican opponent Cathy Richardson, a Dracut selectman, has been equally fierce. Personal attacks have flown both ways and the state parties on both sides have gotten involved with the race.
But with Election Day right around the corner, both candidates said they are feeling very good about their chances and are confident the issues they've raised will resonate with the voters in Dracut and Tyngsboro.
Garry, who has represented the district since 1994, said she believes her long record of service will resonate with voters, as well her accomplishments, such as the reopening of the Tyngsboro Bridge this fall.
"I'm feeling pretty good about Tuesday because the response from the voters has been great," Garry said. "They have said to me, 'You have been there for us and we will be there for you.' "
Richardson also said she feels great about Tuesday. She said she has run a grass-roots campaign stressing the importance of getting the economy growing again and creating jobs.
"I'm feeling very positive," Richardson. "I feel like we were able to get our message out about lower taxes, smaller government and less regulation."
In the 2nd Middlesex District, which includes Westford, Littleton and parts of Chelmsford, incumbent state Rep. James Arciero, a Democrat, faces a challenge from Republican and Westford Selectman Valerie Wormell. Arciero said he'll be holding a rally at Minot's Corner, the intersection of Littleton and Boston roads, where volunteers will hold signs and state Sen. Eileen Donoghue will be making an appearance.
He's sent five direct mailings and said he's not taking Wormell's challenge lightly.
"I'm going to work hard until 8 p.m. Tuesday,"
Wormell could not be reached for comment.
Other contested races include the battle for the 17th Middlesex District, which covers parts of Lowell and Chelmsford, between incumbent Democratic state Rep. David Nangle and Republican challenger Martin Burke. Nangle made headlines last month when he announced he'd be endorsing Brown over Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren in their U.S. Senate race.
Burke, who owns a local appraisal business, has said he decided to enter the race to both protect government programs that help people and to do away with those that waste taxpayer dollars.
The other race affecting Tewksbury residents, the 18th Essex District, pits incumbent Republican state Rep. James Lyons, of Andover, versus Democrat Barbara L'Italien. L'Italien had previously held the seat for eight years before Lyons upset her in November 2010.
Since then, L'Italien has worked as a policy director for state Treasurer Steven Grossman.
Lyons has vowed to make it his priority to roll the state sales tax back to 5 percent. L'Italien has said she'd support a rollback but only if the economy stabilizes.
In the 14th Middlesex District, an area that includes parts of Concord, Carlisle, Acton and Chelmsford, Democratic state Rep. Cory Atkins faces a challenge from Republican Michael Benn. Both live in Concord.
Benn is touting his more than 24 years of experience as a health-care finance professional as one of his biggest strengths. Atkins has held the seat since 1999.
In the 21st Middlesex District, Republican Walter Zenkin, a Burlington small-business owner, faces Ken Gordon, a Bedford attorney, to represent those towns and a precinct in Wilmington.
There are also three candidates in the Merrimack Valley who are running unopposed this fall:
* Republican state Rep. Sheila Harrington, of Groton, in the 1st Middlesex District, which includes parts of Ashby, Dunstable, Groton, Pepperell, Townsend and Ayer.
* Lowell Democratic state Rep. Thomas Golden, whose 16th Middlesex District also includes parts of Chelmsford.
* Lowell Democratic state Rep. Kevin Murphy, representing the 18th Middlesex District.
Staff writers Lyle Moran, Katie Lannan, Grant Welker and Sarah Favot contributed to this report.
Follow Evan Lips on Twitter @evanmlips.