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State incumbents head for re-electionWhipps, McGovern lead by wide margins

  • Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. AP PHOTO

  • Democrat U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. AP PHOTO

  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker takes questions from members of the media during a news conference at the Statehouse in Boston In January 2017. AP File Photo

  • Susannah Whipps Lee of Athol, 2nd Franklin District representative, at the Statehouse in Boston.


Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Three incumbent Democratic lawmakers who represent Franklin County on Beacon Hill and in Congress and the state’s Republican governor were easily gliding to victory over their opponents in Tuesday’s midterm election: Congressman James McGovern, state Rep. Suzannah Whipps, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker.

All four were widely predicted to win re-election.

Whipps

Rep. Susannah Whipps, an Independent from Athol, was headed back to the House’s 2nd Franklin District seat, ahead of her opponent, 23-year-old Democrat John Arena of Gill, a first-time candidate. With the two biggest towns in the district, Orange and Athol, Whipps held a 4-1 lead.

Whipps, a former selectwoman and a business owner, last year switched party affiliation from Republican to Independent. Nevertheless, the 49-year-old, seventh-generation Athol resident, is looking forward to a third two-year term.

“I’m absolutely thrilled with the results,” Whipps said from a reception with supporters at King Phillips Restaurant in Phillipston after learning she had officially won in Athol, along with Orange – the core of the district. “We ran a very visible campaign, a solid campaign. I’ve never been more happy. It made me realize changing my party (from Republican, in August 2017) was the right move. People understand I work really hard for them. I’m really humbled.”

Arena, who carried only his hometown, 431-314, said, “This was definitely a good learning experience. I had no idea what I was in for, and I made a lot of missteps, but I learned from them.” 

With 65 percent of district voters unenrolled in a party, she said at the time, the change to independent “will allow me to more effectively utilize the relationships I have developed with the members and leadership on both sides of the aisle, and will allow me to better serve all of the people of my district, without the obligation of toeing any particular party line.”

She plans to caucus with Democrats, who make up the overwhelming majority of the House.

The district includes Orange, Athol and five other Franklin County towns, as well as four in Worcester County and part of Belchertown.

Challenger Arena attended Northfield Mount Hermon School and graduated from Amherst College in May with a bachelor’s in political science. He faced no opponent in his primary and touted his energy as a newcomer to politics.

McGovern

McGovern, who faced his first re-election challenge in years in the 2nd Congressional District, is on his way to a 12th term against first-time candidate Republican Tracy Lovvorn of Grafton at press time. With 54 percent of the vote in, he was ahead 68 percent to 32 percent.

“I am so incredibly grateful to the voters of Massachusetts’ Second District for letting me continue to serve as your voice in Congress,” McGovern said in a statement on his Twitter account. “It’s been the privilege of a lifetime and I can’t tell you how proud I am to represent you.”

The Worcester Democrat, who is now ranking member of the House Rules Committee and the Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Nutrition, says one of his chief concerns has been the issue of inequality and the growing gap between rich and poor and will continue to be.

“We’ve got to be focused on getting people jobs that provide livable wages, where they could lead a secure life,” he said in a recent interview. McGovern, who is 58, represents a district that includes Greenfield, Montague, Deerfield and 11 other eastern Franklin County towns.

Baker

Gov. Charlie Baker, a moderate Republican popular with voters in heavily Democratic Massachusetts, has been re-elected to a second four-year term.

Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito turned back a challenge Tuesday from Democrat Jay Gonzalez, a former state budget official, and his running mate, Quentin Palfrey.

Baker touted the state’s strong economy and low unemployment, his administration’s progress in stabilizing the state’s finances without broad tax increases, and steps taken to tackle the opioid addiction crisis.

He has been a frequent critic of President Donald Trump, who is unpopular in Massachusetts. But Gonzalez criticized Baker for endorsing other pro-Trump Republicans, including U.S. Senate candidate Geoff Diehl.

Gonzalez called for $3 billion in new taxes to improve education and transportation, and supported a single-payer health care system.

Warren

Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, among her party’s harshest critics of President Donald Trump, easily won re-election, defeating Republican state Rep. Geoff Diehl, the Massachusetts co-chair of Trump’s 2016 campaign, and independent candidate Shiva Ayaddurai.

Warren has generated considerable speculation about a possible run for the White House in 2020, recently saying she’d take a “hard look” at a presidential bid after the Senate race was over.

The former Harvard Law School professor recently released a DNA test suggesting that a distant ancestor was Native American, an effort to rebut Trump’s frequent mockery of her claim to Native American heritage.

Warren downplayed her clashes with Trump after voting Tuesday morning near her home in Cambridge.

“For me this is about the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Warren told reporters. “It’s about whether or not we’re able to protect health care, whether or not our students get a break or get crushed by student loan debt.”

Diehl argued Warren has spent too much time traveling around the country to stump — and raise money — for fellow Democrats running for Congress. He said she should quit and run full time for the White House.

For fans of Warren, the campaign played out in part as a test run for a possible 2020 clash between Warren and Trump.

Pressley

Ayanna Pressley has completed her quest to become Massachusetts’ first black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Democrat sailed through Tuesday’s general election unopposed, two months after unseating 10-term Rep. Michael Capuano in a national political stunner in the state primary.

Uncontested Franklinlegislators

Uncontested in this general election, and now officially elected to the state Legislature to represent parts of Franklin County were newcomers Natalie Blais in the 1st Franklin House seat and Jo Comerford, in the Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester District Senate seat formerly held by Stan Rosenberg.