Special elections may be held to fill new House, Senate vacancies
By State House News Service | November 4, 2015, 16:46 EDT
BOSTON – Election Day settled contests in 53 communities around the state and may prompt several special elections, as the House and Senate seek to fill vacancies left by members who are moving on after victories on Tuesday.
State Rep. Michael Brady (D-Brockton) bested his Republican opponent to capture a seat in the Senate and Rep. Stephen DiNatale (D-Fitchburg) was elected mayor of his hometown, leaving two empty House seats. Another House seat is already set for a special election March 1 after Leah Cole, a Peabody Republican, resigned in September.
Once Brady and DiNatale submit letters of resignation to the House clerk, Speaker Robert DeLeo said the House can move forward with scheduling special elections to pick their successors. He said there’s “a good possibility” that one may also be set for March 1 — to coincide with the statewide presidential primaries. That may cut local costs for the polling.
“On Brady’s we might be able to do that,” the speaker said. “On the others who will not be sworn in and will stay in the House until at least Jan. 1, that might be a little too quick … so we may have to wait a little longer.”
Though it is unclear when Brady might be sworn in to the Senate, DiNatale, now Fitchburg’s mayor-elect, will be sworn in at 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 4, according to City Clerk Anna Farrell.
The Senate will also have to fill the seat left empty by Sen. Robert Hedlund, a Weymouth Republican who won election to mayor of Weymouth. He will be sworn in on Jan. 4, according to the town clerk’s office. Senate President Stanley Rosenberg said Wednesday that he is committed to holding a special election to replace Hedlund, despite any confusion it might cause by falling in the spring of a regular election cycle.
“It would be great if he gave us a timetable so we could begin our planning, but ultimately it’s his decision and we would respect that,” Rosenberg said. “I always believe in doing the special elections. They’re a bit challenging when they overlap with the nomination papers are on the street for the next election already but I believe that people deserve representation all the time that they can have representation.”
Weymouth state Rep. James Murphy is strongly considering entering the race to succeed Hedlund, according to sources close to the House lawmaker, and he would face another Democrat – Paul Gannon – who lives in Hingham and has announced his intention to seek a return to the House after representing South Boston in the early 1990s.
Republican Patrick O’Connor, an aide to Hedlund and Weymouth Town Council president, is also strongly considering running.
City and town clerks, along with potential candidates, will be waiting anxiously for the legislature to set special election dates so the next round of campaign paperwork and election preparation can begin.
“At the city clerk’s office we are very interested in hearing about that as soon as possible because we run the election,” Farrell, the Fitchburg clerk, said. “We would need to get right on that, and my understanding is that that would happen rather quickly.”
Written by Colin A. Young and Matt Murphy