Twelve Races To Watch in Massachusetts Tonight, And What The Results Will Mean for Conservatives

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Conservatives in Massachusetts would like to be able to say they’ll win up and down the ballot, but that’s not realistic in a state where nearly 61 percent voted for Hillary Clinton for president two years ago.

Instead, conservatives will be looking for sporadic and incremental victories tonight – or they’ll go back to the drawing board.

Here below is a conservative’s guide to 12 key races in Massachusetts on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6, 2018:


Ballot Questions

Question 1
Limiting the Number of Patients Nurses Can See in a Hospital

This ballot question is a classic case study in liberalism:  See a problem in the economy and come up with a top-heavy government solution.

Many hospital nurses are overworked; you can see that if you visit a patient. But should government be setting the rules? And will the cure be much worse than the disease, if costs skyrocket and community hospitals go out of business?

The conservative vote here is clear:  No.

Public polls have shown volatility, probably stemming at least in part from voters wanting to help nurses, who are generally popular. Millions of dollars have been spent by both sides.

If Yes wins on Question 1, expect a bad night for conservatives in Massachusetts, because it suggests a majority of voters are leaning lefter than usual.

If No wins, it suggests a majority of Massachusetts voters may be in an analytical mood, giving conservatives a better shot at some victories elsewhere.


Question 2
Recommending a Constitutional Amendment Against Corporate Campaign Donations

The answer to political speech you don’t like is more speech – unless you’re a college campus administrator, in which case the answer is to shut down all the conservatives.

In the world at large, political speech needs money to package and distribute. That means if you want robust debate, you ought to be for allowing individuals and groups wide latitude in raising and donating and spending money for political campaigns.

Again, the conservative vote is clear:  No.

“Get money out of politics,” however, is a sound-good proposition for left-of-center politicians. It has a certain appeal for many voters who don’t probe further.

Public polls show Yes on Question 2 winning by a lot, as seems likely.

The immediate effect is nil, however. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United isn’t going anywhere with the current clear five-vote conservative majority, and there’s no way that a super-majority of other states is going to join Massachusetts in this ill-conceived federal constitutional amendment.

The result on this ballot question isn’t crucial.


Question 3
Ending the Transgender Bathroom Bill

This is a classic David-vs.-Goliath battle.

Goliath is the Yes side, which wants to continue the 2016 state law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in public accommodations, including beauty salons, public bathrooms, and locker rooms.

David is the No side, which wants to repeal the law, on the theory that some spaces ought to be set aside for biological women and girls so they can have privacy and safety.

The conservative vote is No.

As of Monday, November 5, the Yes ballot question committee had raised $4,773,371.74.

The principal No ballot question committee had raised $446,089.11.

The ratio is more than 10 to 1.

An early public poll had No down 12 points – well within striking distance.

More recent public polls have Yes up by 50 points.

That won’t be the result, which will be a lot closer – public polls typically overstate support for transgenderism.

But how close will it be?

Either side would take a victory by one vote, of course.

But for Yes, anything closer than about a 12-point spread (say, 56-44) suggests tough sledding for their next demands in statewide public policy, whatever they may be.

A 20-point-plus victory for Yes gives pro-transgenderism momentum into the next legislative session.


U.S. Senate

Geoff Diehl has been a longshot since day one, but he has run the most energetic campaign in the state this year.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren could always count on raising more money and enjoying support from the mainstream media, as she has.

A recent public poll found that Diehl had cut Warren’s lead from 30-plus points to 22. That’s significant, but it’s still a huge gap to close in less than a week.

Shiva Ayyadurai, an independent, was drawing about 6 percent in some earlier polls, but his support may be decreasing. It is moving to Diehl?

Either way, Warren is the likely winner. Supporters of her forthcoming run for president are trying to tamp down expectations, saying that if she wins by at least 11 or 12 points it would set her up for a national campaign.

But the fact is, Warren can and will run for president, no matter what the margin, provided she wins re-election to the U.S. Senate tonight.



Governor Charlie Baker isn’t sure whether he wants his own party (it’s the Republicans, right?) to keep control of Congress tonight.

But he is sure he wants to be re-elected governor of Massachusetts.

Baker started with a massive lead, which has diminished but not evaporated. Jay Gonzalez sounds way too much like his former boss, former governor Deval Patrick, to break through. Baker benefits from the good economy we have, and Gonzalez hasn’t been able to make much of Baker’s various managerial missteps.

Look for Baker to roll up a big victory tonight. The latest polls have Baker leading by between 38 and 43 points. A victory by less than 25 points will be seen as a disappointment at this point.

Whatever the margin is, though, it won’t be as big as former Republican governor Bill Weld’s 71-29 thrashing of Mark Roosevelt (a Democrat) in 1994, however. And what did that victory get Weld? Less than two years nine months later, his political career was over.

Which leads to a question:

What does Baker do from here?


Attorney General

Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, is running against Jay McMahon, a Republican criminal defense lawyer who lives in Bourne.

Healey has used her office as a left-wing bully pulpit, suing the Trump administration dozens of times, restricting gun ownership, and famously telling women in Massachusetts uncomfortable with biological males in women’s bathrooms to “hold it.”

McMahon sees overreach in Healey’s lawsuits, supports the Second Amendment, and supports repeal of the Bathroom Bill.

McMahon has done some damage in debates and other public criticisms of Healey, so it will be interesting to see if he can break 40 percent in left-leaning Massachusetts. Do left-of-center and centrist voters in the state see Healey as a heroine standing up to big bad Donald Trump and hard-hearted conservatives here at home? Or are they tiring of her persona? The answer may determine how feasible Healey’s next political move is.


U.S. House of Representatives

Third Congressional District
Merrimack Valley

Rick Green (R-Pepperell), a successful and forceful businessman with a knack for moving the ball forward, appears to be the GOP’s best chance to break through the Democratic stranglehold on the Massachusetts Congressional delegation.

But Lori Trahan (D-Westfield) was a tough competitor for Green to draw. Trahan, a former Marty Meehan aide when he held the seat, has mastered the art of sounding moderate and reasonable while espousing hard-left goals. She talks in nice-sounding euphemisms. She also grew up in Lowell, which has always been the unofficial capital of the Merrimack Valley congressional district.

No public polls for this race seem to be available. Nationally, experts are expecting Trahan to win easily. If she does, it’s a sign that conservatives probably aren’t doing well statewide.

If it’s at least somewhat close (say, within 10 percentage points), conservatives may be doing better statewide.

If Green wins, expect other conservative breakthroughs.


Fifth Congressional District
Northwest of Boston

Pro-life, pro-Trump John Hugo, a Republican who lives in Woburn, is taking on U.S. Representative Katherine Clark (D-Melrose), who is pro-abortion and anti-Nancy Pelosi.

Clark apparently couldn’t make time in her schedule to debate Hugo.

Hugo is a longshot, naturally, but he is giving voters a choice in the Fifth Congressional District.


Sixth Congressional District
North Shore

Joseph Schneider, a Beverly resident and Republican entrepreneur originally from Romania, is taking on U.S. Representative Seth Moulton (D-Salem).

Schneider emphasizes bipartisanship to try to help the middle class. He also emphasizes fiscal discipline and a strong national defense.

Moulton is a liberal’s liberal with a penchant for attacking President Donald Trump.

Schneider and Moulton both support legal abortion.

Moulton has spent more time rising his national profile than on this race.

Schneider jumped into the race fairly late. On paper this contest shouldn’t be close and it probably won’t be. But if it is within even 25 percentage points, Republicans may be doing better statewide than otherwise expected.


Ninth Congressional District
South Shore and Cape Cod

Beating a sitting congressman who isn’t overwhelmed by scandal is depressingly hard. That’s what Republican businessman Peter Tedeschi (R-Marshfield) is trying to do.

U.S. Representative William Keating (D-Bourne), a liberal, doesn’t have a natural stranglehold on this district – it went for Hillary Clinton in 2016 by only about 10 points, as opposed to the 27-point victory Clinton won statewide. But he does have the power of incumbency.

Tedeschi has run a strong race. But it’d be a shock if he comes within 10 percentage points of the incumbent Keating.

Looking to the future, Keating is 66. He already qualifies for a healthy state pension and with now seven-plus years of service in Congress has vested in a federal pension. Whenever Keating retires, will Republicans have a shot at this seat?


Massachusetts House of Representatives
18th Essex

State Representative Jim Lyons (R-Andover) is the most visible conservative in the Massachusetts Legislature.

That’s why left-wing Democrats have targeted him.

Lyons is trying for his fifth two-year term. This is one of his tougher races.

Lyons in 2018 raised a little less than $90,000 through the day before the election. His opponent, Tram Nguyen, a Democrat, raised almost $164,000.

Lyons’s is the most important legislative race in Massachusetts. If he wins, conservatives can cheer. If he loses, it’s a big blow.


Massachusetts Senate
Worcester and Middlesex

Dean Tran (R-Fitchburg) became the only Vietnamese-American in the Massachusetts Legislature in December 2017, when he won a special election to replace a Democrat who had resigned from the state Senate.

The rematch is today, against Sue Chalifoux Zephyr (D-Leominster), a city councilor whose campaign donors include the political action committees of the Massachusetts chapters of Service Employees International Union and American Federation of Teachers.

Since the GOP holds only seven of the Massachusetts Senate’s 40 seats, the party doesn’t have far to fall. But whether the party can point to signs of incremental progress depends on what happens tonight.

This is the first general election since Tran flipped the seat from Democratic to Republican, and tests whether Republicans can keep it.