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Two-Thirds Of State Legislators Are Unopposed In The General Election

The gold dome of the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The gold dome of the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
This article is more than 1 year old.

When it comes to the 2018 election for the 200 seats in the Massachusetts Legislature, we already know the results of nearly two-thirds of the races before the first votes were cast.

That’s because 104 candidates for the House of Representatives and 25 candidates for the state Senate are running unopposed in the general election. Most of them are incumbents looking for re-election, however some will be freshmen legislators come January, since they came out on top in their primary race back in September.

This means the 191st session of the General Court of Massachusetts won’t look a whole lot different than the 190th session.

It seems more Republican incumbents face challenges this cycle, hinting that with a potential blue wave, Democrats smell blood in the water, and are hoping to reduce the size of the already-tiny GOP House and Senate caucuses. There are currently seven Republican members in the 40-member Senate, and five of them have races this November, including freshman Sen. Dean Tran of Fitchburg.

Tran won a sparsely attended special election in December 2017 to replace four-term Democratic Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, who left to be Gov. Charlie Baker’s appointment to the Cannabis Control Commission. He beat Democrat Susan Chalifoux-Zephir of Leominster and two other unenrolled candidates, but did so with only 46.5 percent of the vote. Tran faces Chalifoux-Zephir again this go-around, but they are the only two candidates on the ballot this time. Given this is a midterm election, turnout will be much higher than it was for the special election last year.

Here are five races in which a Republican senator faces a challenge:

NORFOLK, BRISTOL & MIDDLESEX SENATE DISTRICT 

PLYMOUTH & BARNSTABLE SENATE DISTRICT 

PLYMOUTH & NORFOLK SENATE DISTRICT  

WORCESTER & MIDDLESEX SENATE DISTRICT  

WORCESTER & NORFOLK SENATE DISTRICT 


Republicans aren’t the only ones in the Senate with targets on their backs. Seven incumbent Democratic senators face opposition on Election Day:

FIFTH MIDDLESEX SENATE DISTRICT

MIDDLESEX & WORCESTER SENATE DISTRICT

NORFOLK & PLYMOUTH SENATE DISTRICT

SECOND PLYMOUTH & BRISTOL SENATE DISTRICT

BRISTOL & NORFOLK DISTRICT

CAPE & ISLANDS DISTRICT

WORCESTER, HAMPDEN, HAMPSHIRE & MIDDLESEX SENATE DISTRICT


There are some open seats in the state Senate, all in districts north of Boston. Three-term Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives of Newburyport opted not to run for re-election. Four-term Sen. Eileen Donoghue resigned earlier this year to become city manager in her home city of Lowell. And North Andover’s Barbara L’Italien had to give up her seat to make her unsuccessful bid for Congress.

In two of those three races, current and former legislators are looking to move up or back to Beacon Hill. Methuen Rep. Diana DiZoglio is hoping to succeed O’Connor Ives, while former Sen. Barry Finegold is hoping to recapture his old seat, which he gave up in 2014 to make a losing bid for state treasurer.

FIRST ESSEX SENATE DISTRICT (open seat — O’Connor-Ives)

SECOND ESSEX & MIDDLESEX SENATE DISTRICT (open seat — L’Italien)

FIRST MIDDLESEX SENATE DISTRICT (open seat — Donoghue)


Over on the House side, like in the Senate, most of the incumbent Republicans are facing a challenge. Nineteen of the 30 Republicans seeking to return next session are facing some sort of opposition this November, due in part to Democrats feeling emboldened that a possible backlash to President Trump may give them an edge.

Seven of the incumbent Republicans were the beneficiaries of a wave election themselves, eight years ago, when Tea Party opposition to then-President Obama ousted many Democratic incumbents from the Legislature.

SECOND BARNSTABLE DISTRICT 

FIRST BARNSTABLE DISTRICT 

FIFTH BARNSTABLE DISTRICT

THIRD BRISTOL DISTRICT

FIRST ESSEX DISTRICT

SECOND ESSEX DISTRICT

FOURTH ESSEX DISTRICT

NINTH ESSEX DISTRICT

EIGHTEENTH ESSEX DISTRICT

FIRST HAMPDEN DISTRICT

THIRD HAMPDEN DISTRICT

TWENTY-SECOND MIDDLESEX DISTRICT

NINTH NORFOLK DISTRICT

FIRST PLYMOUTH DISTRICT

SECOND PLYMOUTH DISTRICT

FIFTH PLYMOUTH DISTRICT

FIRST WORCESTER DISTRICT

FIFTH WORCESTER DISTRICT

SEVENTH WORCESTER DISTRICT


Twenty-four incumbent House Democrats, including four freshmen, face opposition, mostly from Republican challengers. Many incumbents face a challenge during their first attempt for re-election, and once they survive their sophomore term often find themselves facing no opposition down the road.

In the races involving freshmen, three out of the four (Reps. Hawkins, Meschino and Murray) are exact rematches of their 2016 races with the vanquished Republican looking to do better this time around.

SECOND BRISTOL DISTRICT

In 2016 Hawkins narrowly beat Hall 52 percent to 48 percent. This is a district that has flipped back and forth between Democrats and Republicans in past elections.

THIRD PLYMOUTH DISTRICT

In 2016, Meschino beat Arute 54 percent to 46 percent.

FOURTH WORCESTER DISTRICT

TENTH WORCESTER DISTRICT

Murray won the district in 2016 55 percent to 45 percent.

SIXTH BRISTOL DISTRICT

THIRTEENTH BRISTOL DISTRICT

FIFTH ESSEX DISTRICT

SIXTH ESSEX DISTRICT

THIRTEENTH ESSEX DISTRICT

FIFTEENTH ESSEX DISTRICT

SECOND HAMPDEN DISTRICT

TWELFTH HAMPDEN DISTRICT

SECOND MIDDLESEX DISTRICT

FOURTH MIDDLESEX DISTRICT

THIRTY-FIRST MIDDLESEX DISTRICT

THIRTY-SIXTH MIDDLESEX DISTRICT

SECOND NORFOLK DISTRICT

THIRD NORFOLK DISTRICT

TENTH NORFOLK DISTRICT

ELEVENTH NORFOLK DISTRICT

TENTH PLYMOUTH DISTRICT

SECOND WORCESTER DISTRICT

THIRD WORCESTER DISTRICT

TWELFTH WORCESTER DISTRICT


Democrats are hoping they can flip four House districts that are being vacated by Republicans who are giving up their seats to stage bids for higher office.

Lakeville Rep. Keiko Orrall is running for state treasurer, and Whitman’s Geoff Diehl is challenging Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate. Both Worcester Rep. Kate Campanale and Uxbridge Rep. Kevin Kuros gave up what were considered safe seats to run for Worcester County register of deeds, with Campanale beating Kuros in the September primary.

One of the most hotly contested races is the one to replace Diehl in the 7th Plymouth. Soon after Diehl ran unopposed in 2016, Abington Democrat Alex Bezanson announced he would run to challenge Diehl in 2018, but Diehl instead launched his successful bid for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, giving Bezanson a head start against an eventual Republican opponent. Abington resident Alyson Sullivan easily emerged from the primary as the GOP candidate, and backed by a healthy campaign war chest has staged a formidable bid for the seat. The district, located between the Democratic stronghold of Brockton and the more conservative parts of Plymouth County, has been Republican since 2010, but had been held by Democrats in prior years.

TWELFTH BRISTOL DISTRICT (open seat — Orrall)

SEVENTH PLYMOUTH DISTRICT (open seat — Diehl)

EIGHTH WORCESTER DISTRICT (open seat — Kuros)

SEVENTEENTH WORCESTER DISTRICT (open seat — Campanale)


There are eight contests to fill vacancies in the House due to the departures of Democrats. Most of these districts have been solid blue for years.

FOURTEENTH ESSEX DISTRICT (open seat — DiZoglio)

SECOND HAMPSHIRE DISTRICT (open seat — Scibak)

FOURTEENTH MIDDLESEX DISTRICT (open seat — Atkins)

NINETEENTH MIDDLESEX DISTRICT (open seat — Miceli)

THIRTIETH MIDDLESEX DISTRICT (open seat — Dwyer)

FOURTH PLYMOUTH DISTRICT (open seat — Cantwell)

TWELFTH PLYMOUTH DISTRICT (open seat — Calter)

FIFTH SUFFOLK DISTRICT (open seat — Carvalho)

Correction: This list was first published without two competitive state Senate races. We regret the error.

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Steve Brown Twitter Senior Reporter/Anchor
Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's senior State House reporter.

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