While public attention has been focused on the races for president, US Senate, and Congress this year, other important contests will be decided by area voters in Tuesday’s election.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party is trying to roll back recent Republican gains in the state House of Representatives. Democratic challengers are running aggressive campaigns against six GOP freshman representatives from the south suburbs who in the past two years won seats previously held by Democrats.
The state Republican Party has gone on the offensive in the state Senate’s Plymouth & Barnstable District, where Democratic Senate president Therese Murray of Plymouth is facing determined challenger Thomas F. Keyes, a former Sandwich selectman.
Also at stake are two seats in the state House of Representatives without incumbents in the mix; one is in a district that has long been a Republican stronghold, and the other has a history of electing Democrats.
Democrat Josh S. Cutler of Duxbury and Republican Karen E. Barry of Duxbury are vying for the Sixth Plymouth District seat, which Republican incumbent Daniel K. Webster is vacating. A Democrat has never won the seat in the House district, which is made up of Pembroke, Hanson, and most of Duxbury.
Democrat Claire D. Cronin of Easton and Republican Daniel J. Murphy of Easton are competing for the 11th Plymouth District seat that Democrat Geraldine Creedon of Brockton is giving up. For decades, Democrats have held the House seat for the district, which is split between Brockton and Easton.
While candidates for lower-level offices have been campaigning hard, in some cases for months and even years, getting their voices heard has been difficult.
“The state races are clearly in the shadow of the national election,” said Kenneth Manning, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. “The race for president and an unusually competitive US Senate race have aligned with congressional redistricting to eclipse the elections for state office.”
Party officials say that their candidates, nonetheless, are sending strong messages to the voters.
Tim Buckley, communications director for the state Republican Party, said GOP candidates for the Legislature offer an alternative to the entrenched Democratic Party on Beacon Hill. He said the Republican minority in the House has been responsible for increased aid to local school districts, municipal health care reform, and job opportunities for veterans.
State Democratic Party chairman John E. Walsh said the Republican candidates hold extreme right-wing positions on most issues, while the Democratic candidates are experienced local officials and activists concerned about their communities.
The freshman Republican state representatives from the area seeking reelection include Keiko M. Orrall of Lakeville, who is being challenged by Roger P. Brunelle Jr. of Middleborough; Geoff Diehl of Whitman, facing Democrat Robert L. Toomey Jr. of Abington; and Angelo L. D’Emilia of Bridgewater, who is being challenged by Marilee Kenney Hunt of Bridgewater.
Freshman Republican Steven S. Howitt of Seekonk is facing Democrat A. Keith Carreiro of Swansea, while freshman Republican Shaunna L. O’Connell of Taunton is facing Democrat Sherry Costa-Hanlon of Taunton. Democrat Paul R. Heroux of Attleboro is challenging first-term Republican Representative George T. Ross of Attleboro.
Republican Jeffrey Robert Bailey of Attleboro is trying to unseat Democratic state Senator James E. Timilty of Walpole, while Democrat Genevieve S. Davis of Norwell is challenging Republican state Senator Robert L. Hedlund of Weymouth.
In state House races in Norfolk County, Constitutionalist Robert Montgomery Thomas of Weymouth is challenging incumbent Democrat James Michael Murphy of Weymouth, and Republican James M. Stanton of Walpole is running against Democratic Representative John H. Rogers of Norwood.
In Plymouth County, Republican challengers are running against three incumbent Democratic representatives. Republican Stephen W. Coulter of Scituate is facing Democratic Representative James M. Cantwell of Marshfield; Republican Korey M. Welch of Rockland is challenging Democratic incumbent Rhonda L. Nyman of Hanover; and Republican Debra A. Betz of Plymouth is trying to unseat Democratic Representative Thomas J. Calter III of Kingston.
In county races, Republican Anthony Thomas O’Brien of Pembroke is challenging Democratic Plymouth District Register of Deeds John R. Buckley Jr., while two open seats on the Plymouth County Commission have drawn three contenders – Democrat Greg Hanley of Pembroke, Republican Daniel A. Pallotta of Hanover, and independent Maryanne Lewis of Scituate.
Three candidates are running for two seats on the Bristol County Commission. They are independent Paul J. Levasseur of Acushnet and Democratic incumbents Paul B. Kitchen of Fairhaven and John R. Mitchell of Fall River.
In the race for an open seat on the Governor’s Council, Democrat Robert L. Jubinville of Milton is facing Republican Earl H. Sholley of Norfolk. Governor’s Councilor Charles Cipollini, a Fall River Republican, and his brother, Oliver Cipollini, a Barnstable Democrat, are competing in a friendly rivalry for a seat on the state panel that confirms judicial nominees, among other gubernatorial decisions.
Two years ago, the two brothers also ran against each other for the office, and Charles Cipollini won, even though he had endorsed Oliver Cipollini.