Majority Of Mass. Incumbents Win Primaries Unopposed, But Challengers Beat 2 Reps

Incumbents largely had their day at the polls on Thursday when the vast majority of those seeking reelection faced zero primary opposition, but two Democratic House members fell to progressive challengers from their left on a night when 17 races were decided by the primary results.

With the primary votes counted, only 57 races for 200 seats in the Legislature now remain undecided heading into November when the presidential race will be the focus of voters expected to turn out in much larger numbers than they did Thursday.

Rep. Tim Toomey, a 12-term Cambridge Democrat, lost to challenger Mike Connolly, who describes himself as a progressive, attorney and community organizer.

"When we started this campaign, a lot of people said it couldn't be done," Connolly told cheering supporters at a bar in Cambridge's Central Square. "People said it couldn't be done."

Meanwhile in Lawrence, political newcomer Juana Matias toppled incumbent Rep. Marcos Devers in the 16th Essex district that includes parts of the city.

Matias, who came to the United States from the Dominican Republic with her family in the late 1980s, is the CEO of a residential and commercial construction services company and previously worked as a legal advocate for unaccompanied immigrant children.

Devers, a onetime interim mayor of Lawrence and former chairman of the city council there, has served in the House since winning a special election in 2010 to replace William Lantigua.

Neither Connolly nor Matias will face a Republican challenger in November.

And in one of the more interesting, if not complicated political situations on the South Shore, Democrat Joan Meschino appeared poised to win her House sticker campaign over Steve Burm, a onetime aide to former Rep. Garrett Bradley of Hingham whose resignation threw that contest into disarray.

Meschino, whose name was actually on the ballot for the Senate to challenge Weymouth Sen. Patrick O'Connor, shifted gears to focus on the House race after Bradley announced his plans to resign. Bradley's name, however, remained on the ballot as the only candidate in the race, forcing Democrats and Republicans to run write-in campaigns.

Should Meschino win both the House and Senate primaries, aides to the former Hull selectwoman -- confident in her position in the House race as the votes were still trickling in -- said she would decline the Senate nomination forcing the Democratic Party to name a replacement nominee.

"I'm very proud of the campaign that we ran. I'd like to thank the residents of the third Plymouth district for their support. Although the results were disappointing our campaign team worked very hard and spared no effort. I will support Joan in her candidacy and truly wish her all the best," Burm said in a statement.

As expected, the Thursday primary elections featured low voter turnout with few marquee races and no statewide contests on the ballot to drive voters to the polls after the Labor Day weekend.

Despite the struggle to engage voters who Secretary of State William Galvin said this week have been more attuned to the presidential contest than local races, three Senate primaries and 14 House races essentially decided who will hold those seats when the Legislature begins a new two-year session in January.

Sens. Sonia Chang-Diaz, Kathleen O'Connor-Ives and Patricia Jehlen all survived challenges to secure their seats for another term. Jehlen beat back onetime lieutenant governor candidate and Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung in convincing fashion despite nearly $100,000 in outside money from pro-charter school forces being spent to support Cheung's challenge.

Democrat Julian Cyr, a progressive and former Department of Public Health employee in the Patrick administration, won the nomination for the open seat being vacated by Sen. Daniel Wolf on Cape Cod and will face Republican winner Anthony Schiavi, of Harwich.

A victory in the Berkshires by Democrat Adam Hinds will pit him against Republican Christine Canning in November, while Rep. Walter Timilty's win over Nora Harrington in the race to replace retiring and embattled Sen. Brian Joyce leaves Timilty facing independent Jonathan Lott in the general election.

Timilty's win marked a victory for a breed of conservative Democrats that have become scarce in the Senate, but includes Timilty's cousin Sen. James Timilty.

Elsewhere around the state, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party had a strong night defeating two conservative-leaning incumbents, holding on to a seat like Jehlen's and winning with candidates in places like Leominster and the Worcester area where more conservative Democrats have been the norm.

On the House side, four seats opened by retiring state lawmakers were decided on Thursday.

Bud Williams defeated Rep. Benjamin Swan's son and two others for the Democratic nomination for the Springfield-based House seat, while 21-year-old Solomon Goldstein-Rose emerged from a crowded Democratic field to succeed Rep. Ellen Story, of Amherst. In Roxbury, Chynah Tyler, an aide to Sen. Chang-Diaz, won the race to replace Rep. Gloria Fox in the House, while William Driscoll, of Milton, will replace Timilty in the House representing that Milton-Randolph district.

Governor's Councilor Michael Albano, the former Springfield mayor who opted to give up his seat to run for Hampden County sheriff this cycle, came up short in a race won by Nick Cocchi, the current deputy superintendent of the sheriffs department.

Another race for sheriff -- the hotly contested campaign in Essex County to replace retiring Sheriff Frank Cousins -- will pit Democrat Kevin Coppinger of Lynn against Republican Anne Manning-Martin of Peabody in November after both emerged from crowded fields of candidates to win their primaries.



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