Republican wins sole contested legislative election

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BOSTON – A Republican won the only competitive special legislative election held in Massachusetts Tuesday as Weymouth’s Patrick O’Connor defeated Hull’s Joan Mechino for an open Senate seat. But the pair are likely to face off again in November, when the Plymouth and Norfolk district will be in play for the second time this year.

O’Connor, the president of the Weymouth town council, was a top aide to Weymouth Mayor Robert Hedlund when he held the seat. Hedlund resigned the post in January after winning the mayor’s office. Mechino is a former Hull selectman.

Democratic Party Chairman Thomas McGee vowed that Meschino would again vie for the seat in November’s general election.

Gov. Charlie Baker, who campaigned for O’Connor, cited his victory as an affirmation that voters are “looking for an efficient and accountable state government that delivers a better value for the taxpayers. I’m looking forward to working with Patrick to advance our shared agenda of lower taxes, expanded educational opportunity, and safe, thriving communities across the South Shore and Massachusetts.”

Added Kirsten Hughes, the state GOP chairman, “Senator-elect O’Connor will be a strong successor to carry on former Senator Hedlund’s leadership, and we congratulate him on his victory.”

Two other special elections were uncontested by Republicans. In the Senate, Winthrop’s Joseph Boncore wsa elected to succeed Anthony Petrucelli for a seat centered around East Boston. In the House of Representatives, Lynn’s Daniel Cahill won the seat previously held by Lynn’s Robert Fennell.

“I want to congratulate and welcome new Democrats to the legislature, State Senator Joe Boncore and State Representative Dan Cahill,” McGee said in a statement. He added, “It’s important to note that the Republicans couldn’t even field an opponent for Dan or Joe.”

O’Connor’s victory will restore the Senate minority to six out of 40 seats, once the three legislator-elects are sworn in. The House will be back up to its full membership of 160 lawmakers, including 34 Republicans.

Democrats won seven out of nine special elections in the 2015-2016 period, picking up one legislative seat overall.

Written by Colin A. Young and Michael Norton