Two-Thirds of Incumbent Massachusetts Legislators Seeking Re-Election Have No Opponent Today

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By Colin A. Young

All 200 seats in the Massachusetts Legislature are on ballot the Tuesday, but more than half of the races in each branch feature an incumbent who is running unopposed for another two-year term on Beacon Hill.

There are 172 legislative incumbents running for re-election Tuesday and 116 of them — or more than 67 percent — will be the only name on the ballot in their respective races. There are 92 House incumbents running without any opponent Tuesday and 24 incumbent senators running without a challenger.

That leaves 56 races in which a sitting lawmaker is being challenged for his or her seat — 44 in the House and another 12 in the Senate. Of those 44 contested House races involving an incumbent, 24 of the races feature a Republican challenge to an incumbent Democrat. Of the 30 Republican House members seeking re-election, 19 have a Democrat challenging them. One race is between a Republican-turned-independent House member and a Democratic challenger.

Five of the Senate’s seven current Republican members face Democrat challengers Tuesday, everyone except Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and Senator Donald Human (R-Westfield). There are also seven Republicans running as challengers to Senate Democrats.

The balance of power in the House currently favors Democrats 117-34 with two independent members. In the Senate, the Democrats currently hold 31 seats to the Republican Party’s seven.

Between the two branches, there are 28 races in which there is no incumbent running — 24 in the House and four in the Senate. Democrats are defending 23 seats, including all four open Senate seats, and Republicans are defending four House seats that Representative. Kate Campanile (R-Leicester), Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman), Kevin Kuros (R-Uxbridge), and Keiko Orrall (R-Lakeville) are giving up.

Democrat Mindy Domb of Amherst is expected to pick up the 28th open House seat — currently held by Representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose, who was elected as a Democrat in 2016 but changed his party status to non-partisan and is on Tuesday’s ballot but is not competing for the seat.

Though that guarantees that there will be 28 new faces on Beacon Hill in January, not all will be unfamiliar. Marcos Devers (D-Lawrence) has no opponent as he seeks to recapture the House seat he held from 2011 to 2017 and Barry Finegold (D-Andover) is hoping to top a Republican opponent in his quest to return to the Senate.

In the contests for Senate seats, two races are rematches of 2017 special elections.

In the Bristol and Norfolk district, Senator Paul Feeney (D-Foxborough) will face off against Republican Jacob Ventura (R-Attleboro) for the second time. In a 2017 special election to elect the successor to Democrat James Timilty, Feeney narrowly defeated Ventura by a margin of about 575 votes. That special election featured a third candidate, independent Joe Shortsleeve, who garnered 1,300 votes in the lower-turnout special election. This year, Feeney and Ventura are the only two candidates on the ballot.

In the north-central Massachusetts Worcester and Middlesex district, Republican Senator Dean Tran (R-Fitchburg) is hoping to defend his seat against Democrat Sue Chalifoux Zephyr (D-Leominster). In a 2017 special to replace Democrat Jennifer Flanagan, Tran topped Chalifoux Zephir by about 675 votes while a third candidate got 1,500 votes. Tran and Chalifoux Zephir are the only candidates on the ballot this year.

On the House side, Representative James Hawkins (D-Attleboro) and Julie Hall (a Republican from Attleboro) will face off on the ballot for the second time in this year alone. In the April contest to fill the seat last held by Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux, Hawkins bested Hall by 306 votes. Now, in what is expected to be a much higher turnout election, Hawkins will try to defend his seat for the Democrats.

Representative Joan Moschino (D-Hull) will also face a familiar opponent on Tuesday. Republican Kristen Arute of Hingham, who ran against Meschino for the open House seat in 2016, will again vie for the 3rd Plymouth District seat. Representative Brian Murray (D-Milford) will also again face his 2016 opponent, Republican Sandra Slattery Biagetti of Hopedale.

Across Massachusetts, there are 4,574,967 people registered to vote in Tuesday’s elections — 2,527,748 people, or 55.25 percent, are not enrolled in any political party, 1,514,607 people, or 33.11 percent, are registered as Democrats, and 471,383 Bay Staters, or 10.3 percent of the electorate, are registered Republicans. Another 45,442 people are registered under a non-party political designation and there are 15,787 registered Libertarians in Massachusetts.

For the state elections four years ago, there were 4,301,118 registered voters in Massachusetts and 2,186,789 of them cast a ballot on Election Day, a turnout rate of 50.84 percent. Four years earlier, the state elections of 2010, 2,319,963 of the 4,190,854 registered voters went to the polls, a turnout rate of 55.36 percent.

Secretary of State William Galvin said Monday that his office expects about 2.4 million Massachusetts residents to vote on Tuesday. Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in every city and town in Massachusetts.

[Michael P. Norton contributed to this report]