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Voters Oust High-Ranking Mass. Reps. Sanchez And Rushing

Incumbent Rep. Jeff Sánchez, left, and challenger Nika Elugardo (Robin Lubbock/WBUR; courtesy of the campaign)MoreCloseclosemore
Incumbent Rep. Jeff Sánchez, left, and challenger Nika Elugardo (Robin Lubbock/WBUR; courtesy of the campaign)

In a stunning rebuke to House Speaker Robert DeLeo and his leadership team, Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sanchez and Assistant Majority Leader Byron Rushing, both of Boston, lost their re-election campaigns, according to multiple Democratic sources.

Sanchez, who only took over the powerful budget-writing committee a year ago and was the highest ranking Latino lawmaker on Beacon Hill, lost to Nika Elugardo, another Jamaica Plain Democrat.

Elugardo had repeatedly and harshly criticized Sanchez for failing to push through a state immigrant protection law, painting him as a politician beholden to House leadership rather than his constituents.

Sanchez co-sponsored the so-called Safe Communities Act this session, which would have limited local police's authority to cooperate with federal immigration agents but said he was unable to build a consensus around the bill in the more centrist House.

In recent days, many of Sanchez's House colleagues and some high-profile party figures, including U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III and Attorney General Maura Healey, tried to rally the base around Sanchez.

Rushing, of Boston's South End, also lost his re-election bid in a three-way race to Jon Santiago, according to two Democratic sources. The South End Democrat was the highest ranking black legislator on Beacon Hill.

U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano confirmed both outcomes in a short concession speech of his own, as he said it was the clear the 7th Congressional District, which includes large portions of Boston, clearly wanted a change.

Elugardo's win and Sen. Karen Spilka's ascension to Senate president means both the House and Senate Ways and Means committees will have new chairs soon.

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