GO TO CommonWealth’s homepage for stories on the big races, including Maura Healey’s historic victory in the race for governor.
What else did we learn from Tuesday’s election about the big winners and losers?
SMASHING THE CEILING
Women were big winners in Massachusetts, as Healey led a statewide Democratic ticket to victory that will result in five of the state’s six constitutional offices being held by women. Joining Healey will be Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, Andrea Campbell, who was elected attorney general, and Diana DiZoglio, who won the race for state auditor. State treasurer Deb Goldberg was reelected to a third term.
Trump Republicans were big losers in this election. Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl, who had been a leader in President Donald Trump’s Massachusetts campaign, lost in a landslide. Vocally pro-Trump Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson lost his seat after 25 years. And in nearby New Hampshire, Trump-backed Senate candidate Don Bolduc failed to unseat Democratic US Sen. Maggie Hassan, while former Trump White House aide Karoline Leavitt lost her race for US House to incumbent Democrat Chris Pappas. Nationally, results for Trump-backed candidates were mixed, but far from the “red wave” some had predicted. J.D. Vance won the Ohio Senate seat and Herschel Walker appeared poised to force a runoff for US Senate in Georgia, but Republican Mehmet Oz lost in the hotly contested Pennsylvania US Senate race to John Fetterman.
If it was a bad night in Massachusetts for the Trump brand of Republican politics, it wasn’t any better for Charlie Baker’s more moderate version of GOP politics. The only statewide candidate he endorsed, Anthony Amore, lost decisively in the race for the open state auditor’s seat. He barely outpaced Trump-aligned Diehl, suggesting Baker’s endorsement – and hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending on the race from a super PAC linked to the outgoing governor – did little to move the needle. Baker also endorsed Republican state Rep. Shawn Dooley, who was defeated for state Senate by incumbent Democrat Becca Rausch in the most closely watched legislative race of the night.
SPLIT VERDICT ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
It was a mixed night for criminal justice reformers in Massachusetts.
In a major victory for liberal-minded voters, Democratic Attleboro mayor and former state representative Paul Heroux unseated Republican Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson, who has held the office since May 1997. Hodgson has long been criticized for his harsh treatment of inmates, and he has also been a staunchly pro-Trump politician, even expressing willingness to send inmates to help build a border wall with Mexico.
Heroux pledged to create a modern, professional jail system with focus on rehabilitation and programming for inmates, and on preparing people to successfully return to the community.
With 79 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday morning, Heroux led by just one percentage point, but Hodgson conceded defeat.
Democrats also succeeded in flipping control of the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s office after longtime Republican DA Michael Keefe declined to run for reelection. Democrat Robert Galibois, who stuck to a more moderate message than liberal reform candidates for DA in Massachusetts and nationally, beat Republican Dan Higgins.
Yet in Plymouth County, Democratic reformer Rahsaan Hall, a former civil rights lawyer focused on racial justice issues who worked for the American Civil Liberties Union and Lawyers for Civil Rights, fell far short in his bid to unseat Republican District Attorney Timothy Cruz. Cruz has been DA since 2001. With 80 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday morning, Cruz had 65 percent of the vote.
DC DELEGATION WINS – BUT COULD FACE BIG LOSS
It was a good – and probably bad – night for the state’s all-Democratic House delegation in Washington. All eight representatives cruised to reelection victories, but if forecasts hold up and Republicans retake the House – even if by a much narrower margin than many had predicted – they will all be stripped of the power they held in the Democratic-run chamber. The higher they ranked, the harder the fall, which means Katherine Clark could lose her status as assistant speaker, the fourth highest-ranking post in the House. A Republican takeover would also mean Richard Neal loses his chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and Jim McGovern gets bounced from his post chairing the Rules Committee.
Despite nationwide concerns over election fraud, especially by Republican followers of former President Trump, the election in Massachusetts seemed to go relatively smoothly. Unlike during September’s primary, there were no reports of ballots locked in an unopenable safe. As of mid-day, Lawyers for Civil Rights reported a few minor issues coming through its election hotline – broken voting machines in Boston and New Bedford, reports of officials asking for identification in New Braintree and Boston, election protection volunteers being asked to leave polling sites, and some confusion about whether people who requested but did not return mail-in ballots could vote in person.