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Foxborough Democrat Paul Feeney wins Bristol-Norfolk state senate seat

Foxborough Democrat Paul R. Feeney defeated Attleboro Republican Jacob J. Ventura and Medfield independent Joe Shortsleeve Tuesday night in a special election for the Bristol-Norfolk state Senate seat, according to unofficial results.

Exact vote totals were not immediately available late Tuesday night. Feeney’s victory was announced by the state Democratic Party.

Feeney, a 39-year-old who most recently worked as a legislative director for a labor union, said his priorities include affordable health care, fully funding public education in Massachusetts, and curbing the opioid crisis that “has stricken our communities.”

“We talked about sticking up for the middle class,” he said during a brief telephone interview Tuesday night.


Feeney, a former Foxborough selectman, succeeds Walpole Democrat James E. Timilty, who is taking over the job of Norfolk County treasurer. “We got to make sure we hit the ground running people and serve the people of this district,” Feeney said.

Feeney defeated Sharon resident Edward R. “Ted” Philips in last month’s primary.

Ventura said he was disappointed in the result and thanked his campaign team.

“We came very close,” said Ventura, an attorney who emerged from a four-way primary GOP primary last month.

He said the district is still one of the most conservative in the state, adding that “I think the Republican Party ought to keep that on its radar.”

“This was all about turning out the vote and they did a better job of it than we did,” said Ventura of Feeney’s campaign.

According to unofficial results from the nine communities in the district, Feeney received 6,982 votes, Ventura received 6,405, and Shortsleeve received 1,356.

Feeney won Attleboro, Foxborough, Mansfield, Sharon, and Norton; Ventura took Medfield, Rehoboth, Seekonk, and Walpole, according to unofficial results.

Shortsleeve, a former WBZ reporter, said the special election “broke along party lines and I ran without a party.”


“It’s an uphill climb,” he said Tuesday night.

Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman Gus Bickford called Feeney a “thoughtful, caring public servant” in a statement Tuesday night.

“Paul’s commitment to Democratic ideals as the new State Senator from the region is essential at this time in our state’s and nation’s history when so many of our values are under assault,” said Bickford in the statement.

In congratulating Feeney, Newton mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren took a swipe at incumbent Governor Charlie Baker, who is a Republican.

“Though his candidate lost, this election gave us a glimpse of the real Charlie Baker,” said Warren in a statement. “Gov. Baker threw his full weight behind an NRA-backed conservative Republican who ran on a platform of de-funding Planned Parenthood, repealing our transgender rights law and rolling back marriage equality.”

Baker’s office declined to comment on Warren’s statement Tuesday night, deferring comment to the Massachusetts Republican Party. Messages left with that group were not returned Tuesday night.

Danny McDonald can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.