Two Republicans Vying For Nomination In Massachusetts Senate Special Election Race

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Republican voters in central Massachusetts have a choice next month for an open state Senate seat.

Former state Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer) left elected office to become the rural affairs director in Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey’s administration — and two Republicans are vying for the party nomination to run in the Worcester and Hampshire District special election.

The two men — 58-year-old state Representative Peter Durant (R-Spencer) and 55-year-old Fitchburg State University adjunct professor Bruce Chester — are vying for a chance to take on state Representative Jon Zlotnik (D-Worcester) on November 7. But first, one of them must win the Republican primary on Tuesday, October 10.

Here is a look at their top priorities and strategies as they vie for the GOP’s nomination. 



Bruce Chester’s Priorities:

First among Chester’s priorities is fiscal responsibility. He told NewBostonPost he is determined to minimize excessive spending of tax dollars by the state legislature. His goal is to provide relief to business owners by reducing unnecessary taxes, permit fees, and other hidden government costs.

“Finding ways to minimize excessive spending of tax dollars by the legislature is crucial. This includes relieving business owners of unnecessary taxes, permit fees, and other hidden government costs,” Chester said.

“We must also address the influx of migrants that are overburdening our cities and towns,” Chester added.

On that point, said he supports adding a residency requirement to the state’s Right to Shelter law and removing what he sees as incentives for illegal immigrants to come to the United States, like driver’s licenses and in-state college tuition.

Secondly, Chester supports a Parent’s Bill of Rights, including expanding school choice, eliminating coronavirus vaccine requirements, requiring informed consent for sensitive topics, ensuring parents’ access to educational and medical records involving their minor children (including cases of gender identity).

“We need to promote the Parent’s Bill of Rights and ensure that parents, teachers, and school officials work together for the benefit of our students. Let’s get back to the basics of education,” Chester said.

His third priority is supporting economic growth.

“Our goal is to support economic development for small businesses. This includes improving public transportation and providing incentives for local businesses to thrive, keeping taxpayer money in our district,” Chester said.

The district features several bus lines. It also has residents who use the Worcester commuter rail line.


What Sets Chester Apart:

Chester’s perspective as an Iraq War veteran strongly influences his worldview. He draws on his experience as a logistics officer in the military to tackle problems efficiently.

“My experience as an Iraq War Veteran has shown me the consequences of dictatorship and poverty. I am committed to preventing such issues in our country and using my logistics expertise to solve problems,” Chester said.


Winning Over Previous Gobi Supporters:

To win over previous Anne Gobi supporters, Chester plans to continue what he considers the positive initiatives started by Gobi and explore additional issues that could resonate with her previous supporters.

“I will continue the positive initiatives started by Anne Gobi and explore additional issues important to her previous supporters, like addressing the issue of crumbling foundations in our region,” Chester said.

Gobi filed a bill (S.495) earlier this year that would require home inspectors to inform potential home buyers about the presence of pyrite or pyrrhotite in home foundations, two minerals that can cause concrete to crack, as certain home owners in neighboring Connecticut have experienced.

Durant is a co-sponsor of the bill.

As Chester notes, Connecticut enacted a similar law earlier this year.



Chester identifies as pro-life.

“I love children and I will do everything I can to protect them,” Chester said. “The unborn do not have a voice, and if no one will speak for them, I will. There is always an alternative to abortion.”


Additional Note:

Chester stressed his commitment to community service, stating that he’s not a career politician but is determined to improve the district.



Peter Durant’s Priorities:

Durant’s top priority is addressing the high cost of living and burdensome regulations in Massachusetts.

“Our top priority is addressing the high cost of living and burdensome regulations that hurt working families and small businesses. They need relief, and they need to be heard,” Durant said.

One example is Durant’s support for abolishing the corporate minimum tax, a $456-per-year fee that even companies that lose money must pay. 

Secondly, Durant advocates for a return to basics in education, expressing concern about schools deviating from their core mission and diverting towards wokeness.

“Our schools need to get back to basics. Far too often, they deviate from their mission by focusing on social education, which isn’t helpful to our next generation,” Durant said.

Durant filed a bill (H.473) that would incorporate personal financial literacy into the existing pre-kindergarten-through-grade-12 math curriculum in Massachusetts public schools.

His third priority is supporting law enforcement and first responders. Durant emphasizes the government’s role in protecting lives and property and aims to provide the necessary resources to enable them to do their jobs effectively.

“We must support our law enforcement personnel and first responders. The government’s primary duty is to protect lives and property, and we need to enable those who do so,” Durant said.

An example:  Durant filed a bill (H.2322) to create a commission to study post-traumatic stress disorder in law enforcement officers and offer recommendations on how “to prevent and treat” it.


What Sets Durant Apart:

Durant brings experience from both the private and public sectors.

“My unique combination of private sector experience, municipal service, and 12 years as a State Representative sets me apart. I know how to get things done on Beacon Hill for my constituents,” Durant said.

Before being elected state representative, Durant was a members of the town of Spencer’s finance committee from 1999 to 2006 and the town’s board of selectmen from 2006 to 2011.

He also described his background in business.

“In the ’80s and ’90s I owned a specialty contracting company in Worcester called Excel Control Systems,” Durant said. “We performed temperature controls and building automation services throughout the eastern half of the United States.  My partner and I sold the company in 2000.  After being elected as State Rep, I wanted to keep a foot in the industry so I still provide some consulting services to the industry under the name 127 Consulting Group.”


Winning Over Previous Gobi Supporters:

To win over previous Anne Gobi supporters, Durant emphasizes his ability to build relationships with constituents, citing his success in his current state representative district as an example of his community-focused approach.

“I build relationships with constituents. The proof is in the election results; in my last contested election, I received nearly 60% of the vote,” Durant said.


Migrant Crisis

Durant has filed bipartisan legislation (HD.4561) designed to address the migrant crisis.

“I’ve filed bipartisan legislation to address the migrant crisis. Emergency services under the ‘Right to Shelter’ law should be reserved for legal citizens to prevent Massachusetts from becoming a magnet state,” Durant said.

Additionally, Durant has voted against in-state tuition and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants during his tenure as a state representative.



Durant has an “A” rating from Massachusetts Citizens for Life, a pro-life organization.

He identifies as pro-life and said that in Massachusetts, most abortion legislation revolves around late-term abortions.

“On abortion, I am personally pro-life,” he said. “In Massachusetts with the passage of the ROE Act, and the expansion of abortion under H.4954 the battle lately has really been about late-term abortions and children under the age of 18 having access to abortions without parental consent. Both things which I have spoken out about and am adamantly against. I voted against both the ROE Act, and the expansion of abortion in H.4954 last year.”


Additional Note:

Durant sees this race as critical for helping restore balance in state politics.


The Worcester and Hampshire District, which Gobi represents, include Gardner, Worcester (Ward 7, Precincts 2, 4, 5, 6; Ward 9, Precincts 3 and 4), Barre, Brookfield, East Brookfield, Hardwick, Holden, Hubbardston, Leicester, New Braintree, North Brookfield, Oakham, Paxton, Phillipston, Princeton, Rutland, Spencer, Sterling, Templeton, West Brookfield, Westminster, and Ware.

Democrats currently outnumber Republicans in the Massachusetts Senate by 37 to 3.


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