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07/06/10 9:15 PM ET

Youk gets political, overtakes Final Vote lead

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Youkilis is halfway to Anaheim. At the midpoint of online balloting for the Final Vote, Youkilis pulled in front of Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher.

Fans can vote as many times as they want until Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.

The campaign for Youkilis took on a political tone on Tuesday, as Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who was the runner-up to George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential race, e-mailed all of his constituents on behalf of Boston's star first baseman.

Kerry also urged fans to vote for Youkilis from his Twitter account, supplying a link to the voting page.

"Yeah, that's a cool thing," Youkilis said of the support from Sen. Kerry. "That speaks volumes how much people love the Red Sox. Red Sox Nation is pretty big, and pretty crazy and wild. For him to do that is a pretty nice gesture. It's a cool thing."

The e-mail from Kerry was sent out a couple of hours before mlb.com released word that Youkilis had moved into first place.

"Youk deserves to be in the All-Star Game -- while the team has grinded it out in spite of injury after injury, he's been a rock," wrote Kerry. "But now he needs to win a fan vote to make it to Anaheim next week."

And Kerry was not shy about bringing up the rivalry card.

"The stakes are also just a little personal: in the fan voting, currently Nick Swisher of the Yankees is in first place," Kerry wrote. "Swisher's having a fine year, but Youk is better in just about every category -- batting average, slugging, home runs, everything -- and he plays Gold Glove defense to boot. Please don't let anyone say that Swisher beat Youkilis, because Sox fans have gone a little soft after '04 and '07. Let's show we're still the most ravenous fans in baseball."

Youkilis and the Red Sox just hope an injury doesn't derail his quest to become an All-Star for the third straight season. Youkilis left Tuesday night's game in the third inning with right ankle pain.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox and Reds also formalized their plans of a joint alliance to encourage fans to vote for both Youkilis (a Cincinnati native who starred at the University of Cincinnati) and the Reds' Joey Votto, who is currently leading the NL's Final Vote ballots.

In a joint press release, the Red Sox and Reds urged fans to "VOTE RED!"

The released noted that: "The Red Sox and the Reds are collaborating in a variety of ways to encourage fans to support Youkilis and Votto with the hope of getting both of these deserving players in to the All-Star Game and getting fans excited for the Midsummer Classic. This includes joint online activations on the two teams' websites, outreach through the teams' social networking pages on Facebook and Twitter, and cross promotion on television and radio game broadcasts."

The cross-promotion with the Reds is something Youkilis was getting a kick out of. His parents and most of his family still live in Cincinnati.

"It's a good thing, because my family and everyone in Cincinnati is rooting for Joey Votto," Youkilis said. "My brother is real adamant about that, too. He was really upset that Joey Votto didn't make it. He started his own little campaign with his friends, and they're pushing it. There's a lot of things I love about Cincinnati and the connection there is great, and I have a big connection with the people there about the Bearcats and the Bengals. That's my roots and their roots. Hopefully it will be a good thing and everything will work out."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.