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Orange favoring GOP in recent elections

ORANGE — While Massachusetts voters showed little enthusiasm for this week’s U.S. Senate race, and even less for the candidacy of candidate Gabriel Gomez, polls in Orange were busier than usual, scoring the Cohasset Republican his only Franklin County victory.

Though defeated soundly by Democrat Ed Markey, Gomez beat Markey in Orange, securing 681 votes to Markey’s 492. Gomez also won in neighboring Athol by a similar margin. Elsewhere in Franklin County, Markey more typically defeated Gomez by margins of 2-to-1.

Town Clerk Nancy Blackmer said about a quarter of Orange’s registered voters showed up to the polls. “That’s a pretty high figure,” she said in comparison to the recent annual town election, in which 18 percent of voters checked in.

The September 2012 primary drew only 20 percent of voters, though voter participation in the national election was 60 percent, which was “very unusual,” according to Blackmer.

Strong GOP leadership helps

Orange Republican Town Committee member Bob Anderson said that local campaign efforts may have led more people to the polls this week.

He credited Committee Chairman Ray Youngun with leadership and enthusiasm having organized efforts to educate voters about Republican candidates.

“He hates being in the forefront, but he’s a go-getter in the background,” Anderson said of Youngun.

According to Anderson, a meet-and-greet held earlier this spring with all three Republican candidates drew a crowd of 70 voters from Greenfield to Lowell.

While neighboring towns also had active campaigns, “we were a hub,” he said of the local GOP activities.

Local Republicans delivered 800 Gomez campaign brochures to Orange homes and held signs supporting their candidate in the days leading up to the election.

Local Dems less visible

Pat Andrews said that the Democratic presence was not as visible, owing in part to the fact that party’s committee chairman is “away at school.”

“It’s not good,” she said, reflecting on Gomez’s win in Tuesday’s election, “I don’t think there was much going on with the Democratic party.”

She added, “Personally, I think the Democratic party has not been working well in the North Quabbin since two Democrats (from the region) ran for the representative race … it split the party.”

Last year, Andrews’ daughter, state Rep. Denise Andrews narrowly defeated North Quabbin Community Coalition Director Rebecca Bialecki for the newly configured legislative district.

Andrews said her daughter may have been more active in the local campaign, but was in Boston on Tuesday.

But Anderson noted that Orange, which has a majority of unenrolled voters, has a record of voting more conservatively than other towns in Franklin County. In 2008, 63 percent of voters were unenrolled, while 23 percent were Democrats and 13 percent were registered Republicans.

He said Orange voters preferred the Republican candidate over Andrews in the past two elections “even though it was her hometown.”

In addition, former Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown garnered more votes than his challenger and victor in that campaign, Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

And while more Orange residents voted for Obama, Anderson said his margin was slimmer than it was in most towns across the state.

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