, Newburyport, MA

November 8, 2012

Mirra's win seen as state GOP's only bright spot

Mass. Republicans faced widespread rout in election

Newburyport Daily News

---- — BOSTON — House Republicans on Tuesday relinquished some gains they made during the 2010 elections, adding to a miserable showing across Massachusetts where the GOP were swept in Congressional races, lost the U.S. Senate seat held by Scott Brown and saw former Gov. Mitt Romney edged aside by President Barack Obama.

The scorecard for Republicans was so bad yesterday that it appeared the pickup of an open House seat by West Newbury’s Leonard Mirra represented the party’s biggest victory of the night. While a few Republicans in the House and Senate defeated challengers, three House GOP members were defeated by newcomers and Republicans failed to beat a single incumbent Democrat in House and Senate races.

Mirra beat Democrat Barry Fogel in a race to represent a conservative district that has been held for the past 18 years by Democrat Harriett Stanley of West Newbury. The district includes Newbury, West Newbury, Merrimac, Groveland, Georgetown, and parts of Haverhill and Boxford.

The blue rout underscored a big problem for down-ballot Republicans in Massachusetts — a heavy turnout among Democrats in presidential elections every four years makes it even tougher for the GOP to win here.

Senate Democrats will keep their 36-4 numerical advantage over Republicans in the 2013-2014 session and House Republicans will enter the session with 30 members, rather than the current 33. One hundred and thirty Democrats are scheduled to be sworn in as House members on Jan. 2, 2013. The numbers mean Gov. Deval Patrick during his last two years in office will retain the comfort of working with large Democratic majorities in both branches.

Senate President Therese Murray brushed aside one the most significant Republican challenges on Tuesday, easily outpolling Sandwich’s Tom Keyes, who had attempted to topple Murray by linking her to a series of ethical scandals that downed other Statehouse politicians in the past few years.

While 27 senators ran unopposed Tuesday, Murray and nine others easily defeated challengers, including Sen. Barry Finegold’s dispatching of Rep. Paul Adams (R-Andover), who fell into the electoral abyss as he tried to make the leap from one chamber to the other.

With her win, Murray is assured of one more term as Senate president and a potential role in handing off one of Beacon Hill’s most powerful jobs for the 2015-2016 session, when she won’t be eligible to remain Senate president because of legislative rules limiting the holder of that job to eight years.

Incumbents were not on Tuesday’s ballot in only three Senate districts and Democrats won each of them, including a right-leaning district near the New Hampshire border.

Newburyport Democrat Kathleen O’Connor Ives prevailed in a four-person race to keep for the Democrats the seat formerly held by Sen. Steven Baddour of Methuen. Former Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington will return to Beacon Hill to fill the seat Sen. Susan Fargo (D-Lincoln) is giving up. And the seat long held by Sen. Fred Berry, who is retiring, went to Salem Democrat Joan Lovely.

Republicans more than doubled their numbers in the House after the 2010 elections, and while a few freshman House members were knocked off Tuesday, most of them won, including Rep. James Lyons, who beat former Rep. Barbara L’Italien by just over 500 votes for the second time in three years.

But any hopes the House Republicans might have harbored about moving closer to being able to sustain a gubernatorial veto vanished as the election results ticked in Tuesday night.