Patricia Campatelli’s defeat of Salvatore LaMattina for Suffolk register of probate ranks near the top of surprising victories in Boston’s modern political history, observers say, but the newly elected official was nowhere to be found Friday.
Her gray sedan, with several red campaign stickers affixed on the windows, was parked outside her house in East Boston, but there was no answer at her door. Repeated calls to her cellphone, home number, and even campaign telephone went unanswered, as did an e-mail message seeking an interview. A voice mail was left at her current workplace, the state’s Office of Community Corrections, where she is statewide program supervisor, but that went unanswered as well.
Even calls to two of her supporters, people who donated $500 each to her campaign, elicited no response.
“Lots of reporters have been stopping by and dropping off their cards,” said a woman who identified herself as another resident of the modest lime-colored multifamily home where Campatelli lives.
LaMattina, a Boston city councilor since 2006, enjoyed broader name recognition than his opponent, and many assumed he would gracefully shift from City Hall to New Chardon Street and the $110,000-a-year post. The register oversees wills, adoptions, divorces, and child custody. LaMattina’s salary last year was listed as $87,500 on the Boston city payroll site.
“Strange things sometimes happen in the so-called lower ballot offices,’’ said Lawrence S. DiCara, a former city councilor and longtime political observer. He said Campatelli’s win doesn’t rise to the level of Donna Lambert’s victory in 1990, but is on the short list.
Lambert, an unemployed factory worker with a high school education, beat out Tom Larkin, the Harvard-educated incumbent, for the $56,000-a-year Middlesex County Register of Probate job. Larkin spent $30,000 on his campaign, while Lambert spent $600.
While Campatelli was silent, her opponent, LaMattina, spoke Friday: He talked about his 25th wedding anniversary and how he was looking forward to a vacation trip next week. He congratulated Campatelli, who beat him by 799 votes, unofficially, with 26,759 votes cast. “I wish her well and my hope is that she runs a good court,’’ he said.
He mentioned a flare-up on his opponent’s Facebook pages. A series of rambling profanity-laden rants were posted on Campatelli’s personal Facebook account and her campaign page. Campatelli, 48, denied making the postings, saying there were at least 20 people from her campaign who had access to that account.
“I really didn’t pay attention to that,” LaMattina said.
He pondered why he lost.
“I don’t know, to be honest. I haven’t analyzed the results. It was obvious that where people knew me, they supported me. I imagine that there was a large trail of women who went out and voted, that could be it,’’ he said. “And it didn’t help that my name was the last on the ballot, it was at the bottom, below her name, and it was a big ballot. A few hundred votes there maybe.”
LaMattina, 52, accepted defeat at 10:30 p.m. Thursday. He said he was fine with it, and suggested that his career path is being guided by a higher power.
“I really believe there is a reason for everything. I feel the reason that maybe I didn’t get elected is that there is work to still be done in my district. I feel good, I really, really feel good today. I’m in my office, trying to do some last-minute work before I get on a plane and go on with my life.”Brian Ballou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @globeballou.