With an exception, lawmakers fight off primary challenges

State Representative Wayne Matewsky
State Representative Wayne Matewskyhandout

With one exception, Massachusetts House and Senate members who faced primary challenges Tuesday dispensed with their opponents.

State Representative Wayne Matewsky, an Everett Democrat, was the lone legislator to lose his primary.

Matewsky, who won his seat in a 2013 special election, was toppled by Joe McGonagle, a fellow Democrat who said he is Everett’s first third-generation city official, serving on the City Council.

Matewsky beat McGonagle and three other Democrats in March 2013, and on the following day went on an alleged tirade at a Texas Roadhouse restaurant, which received some news coverage.

Incumbents held on throughout the rest of the state, beating back contenders from within their own party.


Democratic candidates unsuccessfully challenged freshman Representatives Evandro Carvalho of Dorchester; Dan Donahue of Worcester; Dan Cullinane of Dorchester; Mary Keefe of Worcester; Diana DiZoglio of Methuen; and Marjorie Decker of Cambridge; along with longtime state Representatives Benjamin Swan of Springfield; Joseph Wagner of Chicopee; Gloria Fox of Roxbury; and Angelo Scaccia of Hyde Park.

Representative Chris Markey, Democrat of Dartmouth, now in his second term, turned back challenger Alan Garcia, and will face off against Republican Patrick Curran in November.

First elected to the Senate in 2001 after three terms in the House, Senator Harriette Chandler, Democrat of Worcester, beat back two opponents, picking up 75 percent of the vote, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

She will square off against Republican Paul Franco.

Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives, Democrat of Newburyport, defeated challenger Jessica Finocchiaro and is expected to face off against Shaun Toohey, a Haverhill Republican, in November, according to the Eagle-Tribune.

Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Democrat of Boston, won over her opponent, Roy Owens, a perennial candidate.

Senator Jennifer Flanagan, Democrat of Leominster, picked up enough write-in votes to have her name placed on the November ballot, according to the Sentinel & Enterprise.


Flanagan, who was first elected to the Senate in 2008, had to wage a write-in campaign after her nomination papers had what she called a “clerical error.”

Whether she will face a Republican opponent is up in the air. Former representative Rich Bastien, Republican of Fitchburg, mounted his own write-in effort and said on Facebook on Tuesday night that he had over 400 “raw votes” from Leominster, Townsend, Sterling, and Westminster.

“We should be well over 300 when all is said and done,” he wrote.

A number of seats were open, including the First Hampden and Hampshire Senate Districts. Five Democrats waded into the race after Senator Gale Candaras, Democrat of Wilbraham, said she would not run for reelection.

On Tuesday night, former White House aide Eric Lesser declared victory after a slim margin showed him ahead of Springfield city councilor Timothy Allen, his closest challenger, by 198 votes, according to the Springfield Republican. Debra Boronski of East Longmeadow is the Republican nominee.

In Lowell, Rady Mom, a Cambodian-American businessman, won a four-way primary to replace former representative Kevin Murphy, and will face Independent Fred Bahou in November, the Lowell Sun reported.

Multiple reports said Barbara L’Italien, a former Andover state representative who lost to Republican Jim Lyons in 2010, won the Democratic primary for exiting Senator Barry R. Finegold’s Second Essex and Middlesex seat. L’Italien emerged from a three-way race that also included Pavel Payano and Doris Rodriguez, and will battle with Alex Vispoli of Andover on the November ballot.


The 13th Middlesex House seat will likely stay in Democratic hands, with Carmine Gentile of Sudbury winning the primary over Brian LeFort of Framingham, the MetroWest Daily News said. No Republicans are running for the seat, held by Representative Tom Conroy, Democrat of Wayland, who like Finegold opted to run for treasurer instead of re-election.

The Medford Transcript said that Christine Barber of Somerville won the Democratic primary for the 34th Middlesex House seat, vacant due to Carl Sciortino’s departure to take the top job at the AIDS Action Committee. Barber will not face a Republican challenger.