Dems retain Senate seat as Brockton’s Brady beats Diehl

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BROCKTON State Rep. Geoff Diehl’s bid to add another Republican to the state Senate came up short Tuesday as state Rep. Michael Brady (D-Brockton), fueled by an 8,000-vote edge in his home city, managed to defeat the GOP challenger and keep the seat under Democratic control.

The race was defined by the heavy hitters who came to bat for both candidates, as Brady had U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren stump on his behalf while Diehl (R-Whitman) had GOP Gov. Charlie Baker standing firmly in his corner.

The union-backed Brady, however, proved too much for Diehl to overcome.

An unofficial tally indicated Brady bested Diehl by about 4,000 total votes.

The Second Plymouth and Bristol seat, representing Brockton and surrounding towns, opened up in late June when veteran lawmaker Thomas Kennedy, a lifelong Brockton resident, died of pneumonia at the age of 63. Kennedy (no relation to the famous Massachusetts political family) had served as a state representative for 20 years before winning the senate post in 2008.

State Rep. Michael Brady (D-Brockton), center, is flanked by colleague Antonio Cabral (right) and Brockton Mayor James Harrington in this 2009 photo of their State House appeal for economic development funding. (State House News Service photo)

State Rep. Michael Brady (D-Brockton), center, is flanked by colleague Antonio Cabral (right) and Brockton Mayor James Harrington in this 2009 photo of their State House appeal for economic development funding. (State House News Service photo)

Diehl rode into the House of Representatives atop a wave of Republican momentum in 2010 when he upset incumbent Allen J. McCarthy (D-East Bridgewater) by a little more than 400 votes.

Brady was first elected to the House in 2008. He is well-known in Brockton, the biggest community in the district, having served as a city councilor there for more than 13 years.

A Diehl victory would have increased the number of Republicans in the Senate to seven, compared with 33 Democrats. As a result, the Democrats maintained a lock on a district they’ve held for decades. The most recent breakdown shows almost 39 percent of voters are registered Democrats while 11 percent are Republicans.

Diehl lost despite having emerged as the clear victor in terms of fundraising. According to state Office of Campaign Finance reports, Diehl collected twice as much money as Brady. Records show that Diehl raised $117,081 between July 1 and Oct. 16, compared to the $58,955 for Brady. When the race kicked off July 1, Diehl, with $18,647 on-hand, had about twice as much as Brady. Raduc has raised just $140.

Diehl also outspent Brady by $51,497 between July 1 and Oct. 16. Brady’s hometown popularity in Brockton proved to be his biggest asset. Preliminary totals, according the the Brockton Enterprise, showed that Brady 

Brady ran unopposed for reelection in each of his last three House races. In his first run for the lower chamber, in 2008, Brady trounced his Republican opponent by a 5-to-1 margin. In the 2014 Senate race, Kennedy won reelection by a 2-1 margin over Republican Viola Ryerson.

Diehl has campaigned largely on tax-cutting proposals. He has frequently used Twitter to point out his status of being “the only candidate in this race with a proven record of fighting for the taxpayer and cutting taxes,” citing his successful efforts to support a ballot initiative in 2014 that repealed automatic state gasoline tax hikes. Brady won a party primary over Joseph Lynch earlier this month, capturing 90 percent of the vote. Earlier this week, he secured an endorsement from Kennedy’s family. In his campaign, Brady focused mostly on issues that affect working people. In early July, days after he entered the race to succeed Kennedy, he made headlines as the sole House opponent of a state budget deal. Brady objected to a provision that called for a three-year suspension of the so-called Pacheco law, a measure that limits privatization of public services. As a longtime union supporter, Brady told the Associated Press that a suspension of the law would “take away rights” from state and municipal workers. “I’m a big supporter of collective bargaining rights,” he said. As a newly elected governor confronting a crisis, Baker called for the suspension to speed improvements to the troubled Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority after record 2015 snowfall disrupted the T’s transit services for weeks. The law is named after its creator, state Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton). The budget deal sailed through the legislature despite Brady’s opposition. Soon after the race was called in Brady’s favor, he received a series of congratulatory messages from State House colleagues and other organizations: