Looking for Primary Action in the State Legislature

The answer to today’s third ‘Ask Me Anything’ question.

“Walt Andrews” asks:

What will be the legislative primary elections to watch this year?

There aren’t that many shaping up in the state senate, as best I can tell. I’ll know more by the end of the month because certified nomination signatures are due to the Secretary of the Commonwealth by May 27.

There is a good one out in the open 1st Hampden & Hampshire, where at least four Democrats will be on the ballot for Gale Canderas’s seat: James “Chip” Harrington, Thomas Lachiusa, Eric Lesser, and Aaron Saunders.

Also out west, Democrats Patrick Leahy and Christopher Hopewell are fighting to take on just-elected Republican Don Humason.

Democrats Barbara L’Italien and Pavel Payano vie up north to take on Republican Alex Vispoli in the 2nd Essex & Middlesex district, for Barry Finegold’s seat.

For Stephen Brewer’s Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire, and Middlesex district, the primary is on the Republican side between Michael Valenzola and James Earhard; as far as I know, Anne Gobi is the only Democrat running there.

As for the House of Representatives, I’m going to evade that for the moment and turn instead to a related question from “Elliot12”:

State House News Service has an interesting piece yesterday about internal division within the GOP caucus in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, specifically discontent among the Tea Party wing of the caucus with its current leadership. Brad Jones has done a pretty good job of getting GOP priorities into major bills despite Democrats overwhelming majority in the body. Suppose Shaunna O’Connell defeats Jones next year in a bid to become Minority Leader. Do you think the House would actually shift more to the left because of the division within the GOP caucus and O’Connell’s (presumable) unwillingness to negotiate with Democratic leadership from extreme positions?

I’ll be writing much more about this a little further down the line, but as I’ve mentioned before, this is really where the most energy is within the Massachusetts Republican Party these days. And by the way, keep your eye on Geoff Diehl, who might be a more acceptable challenger to Jones when it comes down to it.

Regardless, we could see some very interesting GOP primaries that serve as proxy battles between the Jones and O’Connell factions. I want to wait to see who actually goes through with getting on the ballot before trying to size those up, but they’re out there.

And, yes, if the upstarts succeed in replacing Jones, the GOP minority will become more confrontational and thus less relevant in many ways. But I’m not sure that will mean a more liberal House. It’s more likely to mean less money spent in GOP-held districts.


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