Most local state lawmakers are on a glide path to reelection — but there are a few with challenges

Massachusetts State House.
Massachusetts State House.(David L Ryan/Globe Staff)

Seeking aspiring public servants . . . problem solvers . . . balance of patience and ambition necessary . . . desire to improve state law . . . capacity for public scrutiny important . . . starting base pay $63,000 or so a year . . . must first wage uphill battle to unseat incumbents or wait for a seat to open up. What, only a few takers?

Incumbency rules on Beacon Hill and in the rest of the Boston area, where the majority of state legislators will not face a challenge on primary day, Sept. 4, nor on Election Day, Nov. 6.


Still, there is competition for who will represent some Boston neighborhoods in the Legislature.

In Boston, there are two open-seat races — contests without incumbents — for the state House of Representatives.

Democrat Nick Collins of South Boston won a special election to the state Senate, leaving his seat open. In the Democratic primary, David Biele, a lawyer and onetime Collins aide, is running to represent the South Boston-anchored Fourth Suffolk district against Matthew Rusteika, a former official in the state Department of Energy Resources.

State Representative Evandro C. Carvalho, a Democrat, is running to be Suffolk County district attorney, so he won’t seek another term in the Dorchester- and Roxbury-anchored Fifth Suffolk district. Five candidates are seeking to succeed Carvalho. Frequent candidate and former state representative Althea Garrison is running as an independent progressive, and four Democrats will battle for the nomination in the heavily Democratic district on Sept. 4. The Democrats include community and political organizer Darrin Howell and Liz Miranda, executive director of a local nonprofit.

Also running for the Democratic nomination: frequent candidate Roy Owens, and Brad Howze, who state records show is a registered sex offender, (reached by telephone Friday, he declined to say what his vocation is and, when asked if he is a registered sex offender, he replied, “Have a good day”).


In perhaps the most-watched legislative race in Boston, Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, the chairman of the powerful budget-writing House Committee on Ways and Means faces a Democratic primary challenge from Nika Elugardo, a lawyer and former State House aide. Both have been campaigning hard in the Fifteenth Suffolk district, which includes parts of Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill, Roslindale, and Brookline. Although the incumbent and the challenger are both progressive, Elugardo has been working to outflank Sánchez on the left, particularly on issues of immigration.

Several other longtime incumbents face challenges as well.

Activist Suezanne P. Bruce and emergency room physician Jon Santiago are challenging Representative Byron Rushing in the Democratic primary. Rushing, who represents parts of the South End, Roxbury, Fenway, and the Back Bay, was first elected to the House in 1982 and is top member of leadership in the Democratic-controlled chamber.

Representative Elizabeth A. Malia, a Jamaica Plain Democrat, also faces a primary challenge. She is up against Ture R. Turnbull, executive director of a nonprofit that advocates for single-payer health care, and radio station cofounder Charles Clemons Muhammad, who ran for mayor in 2013. The district includes parts of Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, Roxbury, and Dorchester.

Representative Dan Cullinane, who was first elected in 2013, faces a rematch with lawyer Jovan J. Lacet, whom Cullinane defeated in the 2016 Democratic primary, 54 percent to 35 percent . The district includes parts of Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park, as well as a slice of Milton.


Representative Angelo M. Scaccia of Readville, the House’s longest-serving member, who has been in office since 1981 and also served from 1973-78, faces a cavalcade of candidates trying to defeat him in the Democratic primary.

They are: onetime Boston City Council aide and nonprofit executive director Segun A. Idowu; community activist Christopher Obi Nzenwa; community activist Virak Uy, who ran unsuccessfully against Scaccia in 2016; and civil rights lawyer Gretchen Van Ness.

So who is in the clear on both Sept. 4 and Nov. 6?

Democratic representatives Adrian C. Madaro of East Boston, Daniel Joseph 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.

Also on a glide path to re-election: every senator who lives in the city. They are Democrats Nick Collins of South Boston, Sonia Chang-Díaz of Jamaica Plain, and Michael F. Rush of West Roxbury.

Joshua Miller can be reached at