Democrat Carol Doherty Flips Taunton State Rep Seat

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Two Republicans lost their respective races for seats in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, including one seat previously held by the GOP.

For Democrats, the flip occurred in the Third Bristol District, which is mostly in Taunton. Republican Shaunna O’Connell previously held the seat, but she was elected mayor of Taunton last November. As a result, the seat has been vacant since she resigned from the House in January.

The new representative-elect is Taunton Democrat Carol Doherty, a member of the Taunton School Committee and former president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. Doherty defeated Taunton Republican Kelly Dooner, a board member for the Massachusetts Young Republicans who has not held elected office. Daily Kos Elections reports that Doherty got 57 percent of the vote and Dooner got 43 percent.

“I’m very pleased with the overwhelming support I got from the voters,” Doherty told New Boston Post in a telephone interview. “I think the work I’ve done in the community put me in good standing and people appreciated that I was honest and have integrity. There was a lot of stuff that was put on the table by the opposition, but the voters didn’t put up with it. I’m delighted.”

Doherty is the more experienced of the two candidates. She is in her fifth term on the Taunton School Committee and is a former president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

Dooner is the national committeewoman for the Massachusetts Young Republicans. 

Dooner could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday night. 

Now that she has the new job, Doherty says she is ready to go to work for the people of her district.

“I want to see where my office is when that’s allowed. I want to be able to select the committees I’ll be on,” she said. “I know a lot of folks on the hill, so I’m looking forward to working with them and everyone in the legislature on behalf of the Third Bristol District.”

The Massachusetts Democratic Party put out a statement from its Chairman Gus Bickford following Doherty’s win.

“Voters in Taunton and Easton sent a clear message by electing Carol Doherty as their State Representative, choosing a leader committed to fighting for working families and rejecting politics of division,” the statement said. “Carol ran a campaign committed to lifting people up, not tearing them down, and her victory makes clear that this is the message that resonates.”

“As long as the core message of the Massachusetts GOP is to spout hate and inspire division, voters will reject them as they did today and as they did two weeks ago when they lost one-third of their seats in the State Senate,” it continued.

The district that Doherty now represents includes Easton’s sixth precinct as well as Taunton Wards 1, 2, Ward 3: Precinct A, Wards 5, 7, 8.

Democrats also retained a seat in the 37th Middlesex District special election on Tuesday, June 2. Acton Democrat Danillo Sena topped Lunenburg Republican Catherine Clark. Sena received 4,226 votes to Clark’s 1471, about a 74 percent to 26 percent margin, as confirmed by state Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton).

Sena replaces Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg). Benson stepped down in January to take a job as the president of the Alliance for Business Leadership.

The 37th Middlesex district includes Acton: Precincts 3, 4, 5; Ayer: Precinct 2; Boxborough; Shirley; Harvard; and Lunenburg: Precincts A, C, D.

With the special election victories on Tuesday, Democrats now control 128 of the 160 seats in the Massachusetts House — 0r more than four-to-one over Republicans.

This marks the second straight special election where Republicans lost seats in the General Court.

On Tuesday, May 19, Republicans lost a pair of state Senate seats in special elections that had previously been held by Republicans.

Falmouth selectman Susan Moran, a Democrat, defeated Bourne lawyer Jay McMahon in the Plymouth & Barnstable District, 55 to 45 percent. And in the Second Hampden and Hampshire District, John Velis, a Democratic state representative from Westfield, beat John Cain, a Republican businessman from Southwick, 64 to 36 percent.

Moran replaced Vinny deMacedo, a Plymouth Republican who took a job at Bridgewater State University last November. Velis replaced Donald Humason, who now serves as the mayor of Westfield.