Leah Cole Allen, a Trump-backed former state representative from Danvers, has won the Republican nomination to be the next Massachusetts lieutenant governor, topping fellow former lawmaker Kate Campanale.
The close race was called by the Associated Press just before 10 a.m. on Wednesday, nearly 14 hours after most polls closed Tuesday, with nearly 94% of votes counted.
Allen had campaigned as the unofficial running mate of Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl, a former Whitman state representative and supporter for former President Donald Trump. Diehl also won his primary race Tuesday.
After resigning from the State House in 2015 to pursue a career in nursing, Allen was fired from her Beverly Hospital job earlier this year over her refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine and has been an outspoken critic of pandemic restrictions.
Campanale had teamed up with Chris Doughty, a Wrentham businessman and political newcomer.
The Republican ticket will face off against Democratic gubernatorial nominee and Attorney General Maura Healey in this fall's general election. Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll is the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.
Diehl and Allen had won the endorsement of Republican delegates at the state party's convention, pitching a more conservative platform than outgoing moderate Republican Gov. Charlie Baker. Doughty and Campanale campaigned on a more middle-ground approach in the style of Baker.
The position of lieutenant governor has few powers. According to the state constitution, the position's sole duties are to step in as acting governor if the governor leaves office or is unable to serve, as well as to sit on the Governor's Council, a nine-member body that votes on judicial appointees and pardons.
That means there's a lot of freedom for individuals to define the job for themselves. For example, recent lieutenant governors — like outgoing Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito — have worked as an unofficial point person for cities and towns to get in touch with the governor's office.
During their primary race, Allen and Campanale pitched differing visions for the position.
While both said they would like to continue Polito's work as a liaison to municipalities, Allen said during a debate hosted by WBUR that she would be "a liaison to parents" to field complaints about local school curriculums. She also emphasized the importance of using her vote to serve as a counterweight to the Democratic members on the Governor's Council.
Campanale, meanwhile, said she would like to focus on restoring Massachusetts' tourism industry after several tough COVID pandemic-battered years.
The general election is Nov. 8, with early in-person voting starting on Oct. 22. All registered voters can also apply for a mail-in ballot.