Our next stop in our jolly around the state takes us south and west to Bristol and Norfolk Counties. Unlike Greater Boston, this is a highly competitive area. Bristol County seemingly overnight has gone blue to red, with four new Republican representatives. All of them, though, will have to prove their staying power against their Democrat opponents (including one rematch in the third district). Norfolk County has a GOP representative in Dan Winslow, but Republicans will be looking to give him two new allies in the caucus in November. Add a State Senate race that could be very competitive, plus an open Congressional race, and this is easily the most competitive part of Massachusetts.
Continued after the break
The main Congressional Race in this area is the one that Barney Frank is vacating, but that is covered in our Metro West recap. It’s a district that encompasses both areas, which should be interesting because this part of the district is definitely more conservative than the northern portion, which includes the towns of Newton, Brookline, and Wellsley.
State Senate Races
Bristol & Norfolk: State Senator Jim Timilty has had easy going for the last two election cycles, but this time might be more difficult for him. Jeff Bailey, the Republican running against Timilty, has been a good fundraiser, and has the benefit of running in an area of the state that has grown more Republican over the years. Timilty grabbed over 58% of the vote two years ago, but this time around, assuming a strong top of the ticket for the GOP, it could be much tougher for him to win another term.
Finances: Bailey: $3523.50, Timilty: $9,576.21
Plymouth & Norfolk: Bob Hedlund has the distinction of being one of only four Republicans in the State Senate, but has had easy going the last two election cycles against either an Independent candidate (who he defeated handily), or against no opponent at all. Two Democrats will be competing in the primary here, Genevieve Davis and Steve May, but Hedlund is favored to hold on. Steve May seems to be the frontrunner on the Democrat side, but only due to funding, which can change with time. Hedlund has a suffocating campaign account, so he’ll be able to drown out his Democratic challenger in money and organizing strength.
Finances: Hedlund: $150,576.24, Davis: N/A, May: $1,835.07
State House Races
Tenth Norfolk: Democrat James Vallee is retiring this year, and a mad scramble for his seat ensued, on both sides of the aisle. On the Republican side, Rich Eustis, John Jewell, and Stolle Singleton are jockeying for the nomination, while Peter Padula and Jeff Roy fight it out on the Democratic side. While neither candidate has reported any funding yet, this is a real tossup district. Baker won over 53% of the vote here, besting Patrick by over 16 points, but a presidential year will be a different battlefield, and Norfolk County only has one Republican representative, Dan Winslow. This is tough terrain for whichever Republican makes it out of the primary, but an open seat is decidedly easier to win.
2010 Governor’s Race: Patrick (D): 36.6%, Baker (R): 53.8%
No Finances Available
Twelfth Norfolk: Jim Stanton is hoping the second time is the charm against Democratic Rep. John Rogers. Rogers was unopposed in 2008, but couldn’t get above 52% of the vote in 2010, a sign of vulnerability. Stanton has raised quite a bit of money, and Baker got near 50% of the vote here, so this could be a serious pickup opportunity for Republicans if either Scott Brown or Mitt Romney can match or exceed Baker’s total here.
2010 Governor’s Race: Patrick (D): 39.1%, Baker (R): 49.8%
Finances: Stanton: $1,696.05, Rogers: $7,592.67
Second Bristol: George Ross was one of the Republican seat-changers in 2010, after defeating incumbent Democrat Bill Bowles in his second attempt at the seat by a little over 500 votes. He might be seen as vulnerable to a Democratic Party that will perform better in 2012 with President Obama leading the ticket, especially when he only grabbed 47% of the vote in his victory, but the advantages of incumbency should help him. Two Democrats, Paul Heroux and Stephen Kane, are jockeying for a place in the general election, but so far, no finance reports have been released for these two men. This is a district that also gave Baker a 14-point edge over Patrick in the gubernatorial race, so Ross will have that working to his advantage as well.
2010 Governor’s Race: Patrick (D): 38%, Baker (R): 52%
Finances: Ross: $15,145.96, Heroux: N/A, Kane: N/A
Third Bristol: Republican Shaunna O’Connell won in 2010 by a little over 30 votes, which required a recount before her opponent, 8-term incumbent Democrat James Fagan, finally conceded. She will also have to get through Taunton city councilwoman Sherry Costa-Hanlon, who is yet to report any finances. This is still a real swing district, where Baker only edged Patrick here by a point in the gubernatorial race, and Fagan was unopposed in 2008. This is one of the few matches in the state that may test whether or not the GOP’s local gains were a sign of resurgence, or just a fluke in a year that was bad for Democrats. O’Connell is leading in the money war, but a lot can happen between now and November.
2010 Governor’s Race: Patrick (D): 43.2%, Baker (R): 44.2%
Finances: O’Connell: $14,618.53, Costa-Hanlon: N/A
Fourth Bristol: Bristol County was definitely good to Republicans in 2010, giving the party four freshman representatives, including Steven Howitt, who defeated Democrat Steven D’Amico by around 1,400 votes. His 53% of the vote closely matches the 52% of the vote Baker received from the district, so this is a strong district for Republicans. Howitt is being challenged by Keith Carreiro, who is yet to report any finances.
2010 Governor’s Race: Patrick (D): 38.5%, Baker (R): 51.9%
Finances: Howitt: $31,362.42, Carreiro: N/A
Twelfth Bristol: Keiko Orrall won this district in a special election to replace Stephen Canessa, who resigned in the middle of his term, making her the fourth Republican freshman to be elected in the county. Orrall starts with a strong war chest, but will face a tough challenger in either Adam Bond or Roger Brunelle, depending on who wins the primary. Before Canessa resigned, he won his last two races unopposed, meaning that there was either strength to down ballot Democrats here, or just his personal appeal. However, this district went heavily for Baker as well, so it could’ve been just the lack of a credible Republican all these years. The results this November will give us a more definite answer to the lean of this district:
2010 Governor’s Race: Patrick (D): 34.4%, Baker (R): 54%
Finances: Orrall: $13,549.53, Bond: $1,649.99, Brunelle: $1,476.41