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Democrat seen leading in Massachusetts Congressional election

BOSTON (Reuters) - Voters in eastern Massachusetts are expected on Tuesday to elect a Democratic state senator to the U.S. House of Representatives in an off-calendar special election that has attracted little local or national attention.

Democrat Katherine Clark, who has campaigned on issues including improving women's healthcare and the rising cost of college, is seen as the front-runner in a four-way race in a district that represents Boston's near western suburbs but not the city itself.

She faces Republican Frank Addivinola, Independent James Aulenti and James Hall of the Justice Peace Security party in an election to succeed Edward Markey, who in June was elected to fill the U.S. Senate seat that became open when John Kerry was named secretary of state.

The election has received minimal media coverage. Turnout is expected to be as low as 10 percent of registered voters, on a day that weather forecasters are calling for the Boston area to get about 2 inches of snow, according to a spokesman for Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth.

"It's going to be very low, could be as low as 10 percent," said the spokesman, Brian McNiff.

Polls will be open until 8 p.m. ET. (0100 GMT).

Addivinola, a lawyer and formal biomedical researcher, has sought to tie Clark to U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law at a time the program's online face has been plagued by technical problems.

The district leans heavily Democratic, said Peter Ubertaccio, a professor of political science at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts.

"Clark is going to win by a very healthy margin," Ubertaccio predicted. "The Republican running really doesn't present any significant challenge to her... he doesn't have any name recognition"

Massachusetts' nine congressional representatives and two senators are all Democrats. The winner in Tuesday's race will be up for re-election in the November 2014 midterm elections.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Alden Bentley)

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