Democratic State Senator Diana DiZoglio declared victory in her contest for state auditor late Tuesday night, leading Republican Anthony Amore by more than 17 percentage points to become the newest government watchdog.
With about 37 percent of precincts reporting, Anthony Amore, the director of security at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, trailed the two-term lawmaker by more than 153,000 votes at about 11 p.m., according to unofficial results reported by the Associated Press.
“I am so excited to get to work,” DiZoglio told the crowd at a victory party for the Democratic slate at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel.
In a statement, Amore said he called DiZoglio to concede and said he “wished her nothing but the best in her new role.”
“I am honored to have had the opportunity to raise important issues about accountability and transparency during this past year,” he said. “I am especially grateful to Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito for their steadfast support and encouragement.”
DiZoglio will succeed Auditor Suzanne M. Bump, who did not run for re-election.
The campaign for auditor has been one of the most competitive races in a cycle tinged with the feeling of inevitability that Democrats would trounce their opponents in every race.
The auditor’s office, which is responsible for regularly auditing the state’s 200-plus agencies, has not been known for making big news or having an outsized influence. The auditor’s main duty is to oversee the collection of data from a government entity, program, or contractor to identify misspending or neglect of duties.
But this election cycle, the office was thrust into the news in perhaps the most heated contest for a constitutional office in Massachusetts this cycle. The general election campaign, colored by finger-pointing, negative campaign ads, and a mass Election Day eve robotext, put the relatively unknown position on the map.
Throughout the race DiZoglio, 39, has cast herself as a political outsider who will be aggressive in fighting for more transparency and accountability in state government. The Methuen Democrat and Wellesley College graduate was first elected to the Massachusetts House in 2012, after a successful primary challenge to longtime incumbent State Representative David M. Torrisi.
She often talks about her experience pushing back on Beacon Hill leadership and fighting to end non-disclosure agreements in the public sector.
The senator said she decided to run for office after she signed a non-disclosure agreement after being sexually harassed as a State House legislative aide.
Before her time on Beacon Hill, DiZoglio worked for the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts as a chief of staff to the president, various nonprofit organizations, and owned a small cleaning business.
DiZoglio, who has enjoyed the support of labor unions across the state, bested transit advocate Chris Dempsey in the Democratic primary by a slim eight percentage points. Dempsey had been endorsed by Bump, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, and the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
Amore, the only statewide candidate Governor Baker endorsed, pitched himself as a moderate whose politics are more in line with Baker’s centrist tendencies than those of the more conservative Massachusetts Republican Party. Amore, who is now head of security at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, has served in a variety of homeland security roles, and played a leading part in reconfiguring security at Boston’s Logan International Airport after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Amore, 55, said he was first recruited to run statewide when he was giving a speech introducing Baker at a 2017 Christmas party hosted by Swampscott and Marblehead Republican Town Committees.
Within a week, he got a call from the state party asking that he forgo the state House race he had originally entered and the Winchester Republican ended up running an unsuccessful campaign for secretary of state.
Both candidates cast their ballots in person Tuesday, DiZoglio at Timony Grammar School in Methuen and Amore at Winchester High School.
The heated race between the two has been marked with accusatory televised debates, contrasting pitches (and questions about the consistency of their beliefs), and details of Amore’s divorce proceedings that revealed documents that included a temporary restraining order, the confiscation of Amore’s firearm, and allegations of verbal and emotional abuse.
In her victory speech Tuesday night, DiZoglio directly referenced the allegations.
“We the survivors prevailed tonight,” she said, “It is our voices and struggles that will be uplifted in the work of state government.”
In the week leading up to the election, a PAC that supports Republican candidates spent thousands on Facebook and Instagram ads slamming DiZoglio and advertising Baker’s endorsement of Amore.
A robotext sent to voters the night before the election urged them not to vote for the Democratic nominee: “MA Auditor candidate Diana DiZoglio worked at a homophobic Alabama church that practiced conversion therapy” — a reference to The Ramp, an evangelical church where DiZoglio once worked in youth outreach, according to her former campaign website, archived online. A pastor from that church was later criticized for holding revivals where gay teenagers were encouraged to renounce their sexual orientation.
Amore’s candidacy represented the last, best hope for Baker’s middle-of-the-road brand this year, Republicans said.
In GOP circles, the auditor’s seat was thought of as tailor-made for a moderate message, as a position that requires fiscal oversight and a keen eye for locating waste.
But today’s state Republican party – which has drifted further to the right – denounced Baker for not supporting former President Donald Trump and has, in turn, alienated moderate Republicans who were fans of the popular governor. And it did not throw its weight – or its money behind Amore.
“The state party has to change its brand in order to be desirable,” said Beth Lindstrom, who chaired Amore’s campaign, served in the Mitt Romney administration, managed Scott Brown’s successful 2010 US Senate campaign, and ran for US Senate in 2018.
Lindstrom said the party in 2014, when Baker was first elected, is not the party of 2022, and that Amore’s loss signals a Republican brand of the past.
At Republican gubernatorial nominee Geoff Diehl’s election party at the Boston Harbor Hotel, Andrew Couture, a 45-year-old Fitchburg city councilor, acknowledged he had misgivings about Amore’s more moderate tendencies.
But ultimately, he said, “I had to vote Republican down the ticket.”
“It’s too important,” he said.
Patricia Jaworski, 67, was also at Diehl’s party Tuesday night. She said she understood Amore to be more moderate, and that “some folks in this room aren’t a huge fan of that.”
She voted for Amore, even though she said she would rather vote for someone more conservative.
“It’s kind of a lesser of two evils sort of thing,” said Jaworski, who came into Boston from Hyannis for the event.
DiZoglio’s win, on the other hand, represents “an edge up” for labor, said Steven Tolman, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.
“For working people, that’s all we want. We don’t want a hand up or a handout, we just want a level playing field,” he said. “That is exactly what Diana DiZoglio represents. A level playing field.”