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    Most Mass. state legislators don’t have an opponent this year

    Twenty-two incumbents in the 40-seat Senate will formally run unopposed, as will 83 current representatives in the 160-seat House, according to a Globe count.
    CJ GUNTHER/EPA/Shutterstock
    Twenty-two incumbents in the 40-seat Senate will formally run unopposed, as will 83 current representatives in the 160-seat House, according to a Globe count.

    At the Massachusetts State House, you can practically hear the sighs of relief.

    More than half of all state senators and representatives will not face any opposition on the ballot this year, having avoided both primary and general election challenges.

    Twenty-two incumbents in the 40-seat Senate will formally run unopposed, as will 83 current representatives in the 160-seat House, according to a Boston Globe count based on records from the secretary of state’s office.

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    Those running unopposed include Republicans and Democrats — top party leaders in each chamber and rank-and-file members.

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    “I don’t think it’s a serious knock on the condition of our democracy for people to be realistic about their chances of running against incumbents who usually have enormous advantages in terms of money and name recognition,” said Jeffrey M. Berry, a Tufts University political science professor.

    He said a more significant worry is how few people vote. (Turnout for the state primary in 2016 was 8.8 percent of registered voters.)

    This year, most legislators who live in Boston will not face a challenge neither on primary election day, Sept. 4, nor Election Day, Nov. 6.

    Every senator who lives in the city is in the clear: Democrats Nick Collins of South Boston, Sonia Chang-Díaz of Jamaica Plain, Michael F. Rush of West Roxbury.

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    So, too, are Democratic representatives Adrian C. Madaro of East Boston, Daniel J. Ryan of Charlestown, Aaron M. Michlewitz of the North End, Russell E. Holmes of Mattapan, Chynah Tyler of Roxbury, Daniel J. Hunt of Dorchester, Kevin G. Honan of Brighton, Michael J. Moran of Brighton, Edward F. Coppinger of West Roxbury, and Jay D. Livingstone of the Back Bay.

    To be sure, incumbents not facing challengers is nothing new in Massachusetts.

    And, in the House, there are fewer uncontested races than there were two years ago — though it’s unclear whether that shift is connected to the surge of advocacy since President Trump won the White House.

    In 2016, there were 105 uncontested House races, according to State House News Service. This year, there are just a smidge more than 80. In the Senate, the number of uncontested races is about the same as two years ago.

    Kirsten L. Hughes, the chairwoman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, said she’s excited about the candidates her party has running in competitive districts.

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    “They are going to be able to make the case that Beacon Hill needs more balance, that the only thing Democrats have been able to accomplish is to raise their own pay and maintain their own fiefdoms,” she said.

    “I think we have a great opportunity this year with the barrage of scandals coming out of Beacon Hill. Republicans are going to be able to make the case that more balance is what we need for a fairer and better form of government.”

    Republican officials note they are fielding more legislative candidates this year than in 2016.

    Outgoing Senate President Harriette L. Chandler, who will leave the top leadership post next month and is unopposed in her reelection bid, said in a statement she believes that an effective legislative body “needs a healthy mix of experience and new talent. I am proud of the Senate’s record. Our members have fought for their constituents and for the Commonwealth, and it’s clear that in many districts, that hard work and leadership are appreciated.”

    She pointed to several major bills the Senate passed that are now law, including a sweeping criminal justice overhaul and a mandate that health insurance in Massachusetts cover most contraceptive drugs, devices, and products without a copay.

    Spokesmen for Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, a Winthrop Democrat who is also running unopposed, did not respond to requests for comment Monday and Tuesday.

    The list of candidates for the Legislature is not 100 percent complete, as there are still outstanding challenges to two candidates who made the ballot in a Lowell state representative race.

    For state senators and representatives, signatures to get on the ballot were due to local officials for certification by May 1, and certified signatures were due to the secretary of state by May 29.

    Democrats control both chambers of the Legislature.

    Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com.