Some are particularly aggressive — often using material found on right-wing Web sites. John Olver's challenger Bill Gunn, and McGovern challenger Delle, for instance, both cited the effects of volcanoes, sunspots, and ocean currents on the climate. Bob Shapiro, running in Tsongas's district, calls global warming a "hoax" on his Web site, and demands a congressional investigation into the "Global Warming Fraud." Earl Sholley, running in Barney Frank's district, pointed the Phoenix to a position statement declaring that "there is no consensus on climate change," and calling cap-and-trade legislation an "attempt by the world governments to . . . reduce the world's population."

The Phoenix couldn't even get simple acknowledgements of climate change from the two most mainstream Republican congressional candidates in the state — former state treasurer Joe Malone and State Representative Jeff Perry, both running to replace Bill Delahunt, who is retiring this year. Perry wrote back that "I have not reached a conclusion." Malone, who does not mention climate change on his Web site, did not respond by deadline to repeated requests for an answer.

Replacing Tobin
In addition to all the state and federal elections going on, a portion of Boston is dealing with an extra curveball, thanks to Boston City Councilor John Tobin's recent decision to take a job with Northeastern University.

Rather than coinciding with the September 14 state primary and November 2 general election, a preliminary to fill Tobin's district seat will be held on October 19, with the top two vote-getters moving on to a final on November 16. (City and state election officials were reluctant to hold the council election along with the state elections, due to different ballot and voter-eligibility rules for the two.)

That means residents of the district, in West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and portions of Roxbury and Roslindale, will have four election dates in the span of two months.

At least the field of candidates is now set. Six candidates filed nominating signatures last week, and all are expected to qualify for the ballot.

They are: two-time at-large council candidate Matt O'Malley; Jim Hennigan, brother of former councilor Maura Hennigan; Sean Ryan, who ran unsuccessfully for an at-large council seat last year; Chun-Fai Chan, a public-school teacher; Kosta Demos, a Jamaica Plain business owner; and Jonathan McCurdy, a Jamaica Plain activist.

They'll not only have to get their name and message out to voters, but clear up confusion about what race they're in — particularly for voters in parts of the district where active campaigns have been going on for months. Many of them will be choosing a new state senator to replace Marian Walsh — and a new state representative to replace Mike Rush.

Hennigan says he has already had some residents tell him they are supporting another candidate — only to discover that it's a candidate in one of those state legislative races.

"With the other elections going on, it can be confusing," O'Malley says. "Among the biggest obstacles to overcome is letting people know when the election is going to be."

It's also uncertain whether organizations that usually arrange candidate debates and forums will have the time and resources to put many together for the council race, in addition to those already planned for state races.

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