MassGOP Claiming Momentum, Urging New Recruits To Challenge Democrats For State Legislature

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By Sam Doran
State House News Service

MassGOP chairman Amy Carnevale wants potential Republican candidates to know it’s not too late.

There may be less than two weeks remaining for state Massachusetts House and Senate candidates to collect nomination signatures, but Carnevale is still searching for those “keen to get involved.” She blasted out a “recruitment form” via email Wednesday, April 17 in a bid to scoop up more Republican names to get on the ballot for this fall.

“Have you caught wind of the latest poll results?” asked Carnevale in her open letter to fellow Republicans. She cited a majority of Bay Staters “ringing alarm bells over the migrant situation.”

“But where do the Democrats stand on this pressing issue?” she wondered. “Well, they seem to be busy pandering to their progressive, out-of-touch base, while conveniently pointing fingers at the federal government.”

The migrant crisis has become a top focus of the state Republican Party over the past year. It’s featured as a theme of close to 20 separate party communications — more than any other topic — since February 2023, when Carnevale was coming into office, according to a review by State House News Service.

“The vast majority of other states aren’t dealing with the same impacts of the immigration crisis because Massachusetts Democratic leaders refuse to limit the right to shelter law to serve longstanding Massachusetts residents as it was originally intended,” Carnevale said in a press statement earlier this week.

Government transparency, the party’s second-most state-level issue in the same raft of press releases and fund-raising emails, also featured in Wednesday’s call for candidates.

“Our elected officials are operating in the shadows, leaning heavily on legislative exemptions to skirt the open meeting law, open records law, and fair procurement law,” Carnevale wrote Wednesday.

The party’s notes to the press have also aimed more squarely at Governor Maura Healey, a Democrat, in recent months, including her out-of-state travel and nomination of former domestic partner Judge Gabrielle Wolohojian to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Other top talking points for the MassGOP over the past 14 months have included Boston city politics, former President Donald Trump, taxes, and Israel.

“There’s never been a more opportune moment to throw your hat in the ring as a Republican candidate in Massachusetts, from local positions all the way up the ballot,” Carnevale said Wednesday, promising assistance from the party and encouraging potential candidates to “take the leap and challenge your elected officials.”

House and Senate candidates have deadline of Tuesday, April 30 to collect nomination signatures and submit them to municipal clerks. Certified signatures must then be picked up and submitted by Tuesday, May 28 to the state Elections Division.

While prospective candidates for U.S. Senate need to gather 10,000 voter signatures, and Congressional candidates need 2,000, the threshold is lower for the state Legislature. House candidates must hand in 150 certified signatures and Senate candidates need 300.

Among the most recent to jump into a race for state office is Paul Sarnowski, a Republican who lives in Wilmington, who pulled papers on April 16, according to an Elections Division spokesman.

“I’ve been in sales for 20 years now making a living by negotiating policy, educating others on what they need to do and convincing everyone to buy from me. Let me use those same skills to bring change,” he writes on his web site.

Sarnowski is taking a second stab at challenging three-term state Representative David Robertson, a Wilmington Democrat who defeated him by close to 2,300 votes in 2022.

Twenty-five out of 159 state representatives are Republicans today, and four Republicans serve in the 40-member Senate.

In that last general election, Republicans competed in just 74 out of 200 legislative races — 55 House districts and 19 Senate districts — while the Democrats ran candidates in 179 out of 200 districts.

The new class of 27 first-term lawmakers coming out of those races featured just one Republican, state Representative Marcus Vaughn (R-Wrentham), who kept his Wrentham-area district in Republican hands after then-state representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) left the House for a bid for the state Senate that failed.

Last election cycle also saw Democrats flip four Republican seats their way.

But over the course of this year, two special elections have seen Republican victories that the party’s been eager to tout.

One of them, for a central Massachusetts Senate seat, saw Republican state representative Peter Durant prevail over a Democratic state lawmaker, state Representative Jonathan Zlotnik (D-Gardner), on November 7, 2023 with 54 percent of the vote. Then, in the contest on March 5, 2024 to fill Durant’s House seat, the Democratic party did not field a candidate — leading to a runaway victory for now-state representative John Marsi (R-Dudley).

“It’s glaringly obvious:  the Democratic supermajority has become complacent, resting on the assumption that their re-elections are guaranteed,” Carnevale wrote Wednesday. “But recent polls are painting a different picture altogether. It’s evident that they’ve pushed the boundaries too far.”


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