Beacon Hill pols mostly due for free rides in November, data shows

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BOSTON — More than two-thirds of the 188 state lawmakers seeking re-election in the fall are on track to return to Beacon Hill without a challenge in a legislative election cycle marked by a lack of competition.

With 22 uncontested races in the 40-member Senate and 105 in the 160-member House, more than half of each body is already set to return for another two years, according to a News Service review of candidates who will be on the ballot for the 2016 elections.

The numbers mean most Beacon Hill lawmakers can head into the busiest two-month stretch of the 2015-2016 session without concerns about how their votes on bills will play on campaign trails this year.

Tuesday was the deadline for candidates competing in the Sept. 8 primaries and Nov. 8 general elections to file their nomination signatures with the secretary of state’s office. Secretary of State William Galvin released a list of candidates who qualified to run for the state Legislature.

In total, there are 322 Massachusetts citizens running for a seat in the 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts — roughly equivalent to the population of Tyringham, the state’s sixth least populous town. There are 67 vying for a Senate seat and 255 trying for a seat in the House.

Three senators and nine representatives are not seeking re-election, guaranteeing at least 12 new faces in the Legislature and opening up the potential for active competition in the election season.

The most crowded races will play out for the 7th Norfolk district, and the Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket House seats. In Norfolk County, seven Democrats have lined up to replace Rep. Walter Timilty — who is running for Senate — to represent parts of Milton and Randolph.

Seven candidates — five Democrats and two who are unenrolled — will vie for the House seat that represents Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and a slice of Cape Cod. Three of the seven reside in Falmouth, two live on Nantucket and two on Martha’s Vineyard, according to campaign filings. Rep. Timothy Madden, of Nantucket, is not seeking re-election.

Rep. Brian Mannal is giving up his House seat in a bid to join the Senate, in hopes of succeeding outgoing Sen. Daniel Wolf. Reps. Ellen Story, Dennis Rosa, Thomas Sannicandro, Gloria Fox, John Fernandes and Benjamin Swan are also not running.

In addition to Wolf, Sens. Brian Joyce of Milton and Benjamin Downing of Pittsfield are not running for re-election.

If Massachusetts Republicans win every single seat they contest, the GOP could boost its numbers from the current 34 in the House to 49 reps — an increase of 44 percent. In the Senate, the best case scenario is for Minority Crescent to grow by 150 percent — from six senators to 15.

For Democrats, the worst case scenarios would still leave them with continued control of both branches of the Legislature — 25 to 15 in the Senate and 111 to 49 in the House.

But if every Democrat wins in November, the majority party would increase its membership in the Senate from 34 senators to 37, and in the House from 126 reps to 140. If voters elect a Democrat in each contested race, the majority would have a commanding 37-3 advantage in the Senate and a 140-20 advantage in the House.

The actual results will fall somewhere between the best and worst case scenarios, but the numbers show that Gov. Charlie Baker will continue in 2017-2018 to work with a Legislature controlled by Democrats.

Only one Republican in either chamber — the newly elected Sen. Patrick O’Connor, who took his seat after winning a May special election — faces a challenge from within his own party. O’Connor, of Weymouth, will square off against Marshfield’s Stephen Gill in a rematch of their special election primary, which O’Connor won with 85 percent of the vote. Democrats Joan Meschino of Hull, whom O’Connor defeated in May, and Brian Cook of Duxbury are also in the running.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr of Gloucester and Sens. Vinny deMacedo of Plymouth and Ryan Fattman of Webster are running unopposed, while Sens. Donald Humason and Richard Ross have Democratic challengers.

Fifteen House Republicans face challenges from members of other parties. The remaining 19, including Minority Leader Bradley Jones of North Reading, are unopposed.

Speaker Robert DeLeo of Winthrop is among the 86 House Democrats running unopposed, while Republican challenger Donald Peltier is mounting a bid to unseat Senate President Stanley Rosenberg of Amherst.

Including Rosenberg, 12 Democratic senators have opponents. Three — Sens. Sonia Chang-Diaz of Boston, Patricia Jehlen of Somerville and Kathleen O’Connor Ives of Newburyport — will be challenged by fellow Democrats in the primary.

Fifteen House Democrats have primary challengers. Among them is Danvers Rep. Theodore Speliotis, chairman of the Committee on Bills in the Third Reading. Bob Croce of Peabody, chairman of Peabody Citizens United to Stop the Kinder Morgan Pipeline, has said his involvement in anti-pipeline activism prompted him to enter the race.

Rep. Daniel Cahill of Lynn, who strode into office as the only candidate to run to replace former Rep. Robert Fennell in the May round of special elections, will not face a challenger in November.

“Coming in on a special election, it’s a different path to getting to the State House. But I think it’s the best way because I’m all by myself,” Cahill told the News Service the day he was sworn in last month.

The earliest Cahill — who is also a Lynn city councilor — could find himself in a contested race would be 2018, after having already served a term and a half on Beacon Hill.

The third lawmaker who took office last month, Sen. Joseph Boncore, will run unopposed in the fall. The Winthrop Democrat now has a clear path to a full term in the seat he first seized in a seven-way special primary.

Written by Katie Lannan and Colin A. Young