By Gintautas Dumcius
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE — As the Corner Office returned to Republican hands, the state Senate and House turned a shade redder on Tuesday night.
The ranks of the House Republican caucus will grow by at least five seats to 34 lawmakers, while in the Senate they will gain two seats, bringing the total Republicans in the upper chamber to six. The outcome of a close House race in Amesbury, Salisbury and Newburyport was unclear Wednesday afternoon.
But overall, it was a mixed bag for both Democrats and Republicans, as voters in many parts of the Bay State chose to split the ticket and vote for candidates from both parties.
The new lawmakers will join Governor-elect Charlie Baker, a Swampscott Republican, on Beacon Hill in January, but will be unable to provide him with enough votes to sustain his vetoes.
Republicans had been hoping to double their numbers in the Senate and make significant gains in the House. The ability of Democrats to retain seats that were expected to flip back to the Republican column was an indication of split-ticket voting across the Bay State, analysts and lawmakers said.
“Republicans did well but Baker’s coattails weren’t deep enough to bring some folks along,” said Professor Peter Ubertaccio, director of the Joseph Martin Institute at Stonehill College.
As an example, Ubertaccio pointed to Baker and Vinny deMacedo, the Republican candidate for retiring Senate President Therese Murray’s seat, winning Plymouth. Congressman William Keating, a Democrat, also won Plymouth on his way to reelection, Ubertaccio said.
“The reality in Massachusetts is the levers of power to retain seats or win seats are more heavily stacked against Republicans than in most states,” said House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading). “And some of that was witnessed last night.”
But at least 34 House Republicans in January will put the caucus back to where it was at least at one point during Gov. William Weld’s Beacon Hill tenure, he said. Jones added that the gains and “losing no ground is a positive outcome.”
House GOP leaders are confident that Jones will be reelected as minority leader in January, and Jones told the News Service on Wednesday he will run for the post, which he’s held since 2002.
In the House, two incumbent lost their seats: Rep. Rhonda Nyman (D-Hanover) was bested by David DeCoste (R-Norwell), while Rep. Denise Andrews (D-Orange) was felled by Susannah Whipps Lee (R-Athol).
DeCoste, a selectman, won by 59 votes, according to Wicked Local Norwell. The news site reported that Nyman said she would “reassess in the morning” when asked about a possible recount.
Nyman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
“As of today, we only had two members of the House who were not reelected,” said Rep. Paul Donato (D-Medford), who did not face an opponent.
Donato, a member of House leadership, said Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) “put forth an agenda” for incumbents and candidates to run on.
“There were those who felt we were going to lose six to ten seats,” Donato said. Instead, “we did more than hold our own,” he added.
House Democrats lost several races involving open seats, including the ones left open by retiring Rep. Cleon Turner and the late John Binienda, who were both Democrats.
Leicester Republican Kate Campanale won Binienda’s seat over Leicester Democrat Douglas Belanger, while Dennis Democrat Elisa Zawadzkas lost the race for Turner’s seat to Republican Timothy Whelan.
Rep. Anne Gobi’s district went for red on Tuesday, with Spencer Republican Donald Berthiaume winning the race for the open seat with Hubbardston Democrat Matthew Castriotta. On Wednesday morning, Gobi (D-Spencer) won her bid for retiring Sen. Stephen Brewer’s seat by 206 votes, according to MassLive.com, and Republican Michael Valanzola called shortly after midnight to concede.
The result for the seat once held by former Rep. Michael Costello (D-Newburyport) appeared unsettled after numbers from Amesbury were revised to show a lead for Newburyport Democrat Ed Cameron, instead of an initial lead for Amesbury Republican James Kelcourse, according to the Daily News of Newburyport. The newspaper said on Wednesday “it could be a day or more before a winner is declared.”
Joseph McKenna (R-Webster) beat Mark Dowgiewicz (D-Webster) for the open seat created by Rep. Ryan Fattman (R-Webster) leaving to run against Sen. Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge). Fattman won his race.
Matt Muratore (R-Plymouth), who faced off against Stephen Palmer (D-Plymouth), picked up Rep. Vinny deMacedo’s seat.
Grafton Republican David Muradian bested Northbridge Democrat Martin Green in the race to replace retiring Rep. George Peterson (R-Grafton).
Democrats held onto Democratic Sen. Jason Lewis’s former House seat, with Stoneham Democrat Michael Day beating out Stoneham Republican Caroline Colarusso. Democrats also retained exiting Democratic Rep. Christine Canavan’s seat, as Brockton Democrat Michelle Dubois held off former Rep. John Cruz (R-West Bridgewater) and unenrolled Brockton candidate Tyler Prescott.
Rep. John Fernandes, a Milford Democrat, edged out Mendon Republican Mark Reil for a fifth term, according to the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. The newspaper reported that Fernandes won by 357 votes.
Voters in Lawrence rejected a comeback effort by William Lantigua, who mounted a bid for his old House seat after he was turned out as the city’s mayor last year. Rep. Marcos Devers (D-Lawrence), who was also on the ballot with Republican Roger Twomey, won 46.9 percent of the vote, according to the Eagle-Tribune. Lantigua picked up 41.2 percent of the vote, according to the newspaper.
Rep. Harold Naughton, a Clinton Democrat and chair of the House side of the Public Safety Committee, defeated Boylston Republican Brad Wyatt. Naughton has served in the House since 1995.
Rep. Theodore Speliotis, a Danvers Democrat who is also in House leadership, defeated West Peabody Republican Thomas Lyons, The Salem News reported.
Another incumbent, Westford Democrat James Arciero, emerged with a 1,455-vote victory in his race against Republican Dennis Galvin, according to the Lowell Sun. Littleton independent Arleen Martino picked up 551 votes, the newspaper said.
Other incumbent Democrats whose races were watched with interest on Beacon Hill and who triumphed on Tuesday, according to a Democratic source, included Attleboro Democrat Paul Heroux, who faced off against Attleboro Republican Bert Buckley; Barnstable Democrat Brian Mannal, who was challenged by Barnstable Republican Adam Chaprales; and Methuen Democrat Diana DiZoglio, who beat back a challenge from North Andover Republican Rosemary Connelly Smedile.
Other reelected incumbents included Gardner Democrat Jonathan Zlotnik, who was on the ballot with Winchendon Republican Garret Shetrawski; Michael Finn of West Springfield, who bested West Springfield Republican Nathan Bech; Holliston Democrat Carolyn Dykema, who beat out Hopkinton Republican Patricia Vanaria; and Gloucester Democrat Ann-Margaret Ferrante, who tangled with Rockport Republican Michael Boucher.
Dracut Democrat Colleen Garry won in a race against Dracut Republican Cathy Richardson, while fellow incumbent Kate Hogan (D-Stow) fought off Maynard Republican Paddy Dolan and Springfield Democrat Angelo Puppolo won his race against Wilbraham Republican Bob Russell.
Marlborough Democrat Danielle Gregoire won reelection after facing Marlborough Republican Matthew Elder and Westborough independent Kristine Coffey-Donahue.
The Sept. 9 primary saw one incumbent fall, when voters ousted Rep. Wayne Matewsky (D-Everett). His expected successor, Joseph McGonagle, did not face a challenger in the general election.
In the Senate, Democrats kept their hold on two open seats: former Rep. Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover) beat Selectman Alex Vispoli (R-Andover) in the race to replace Sen. Barry Finegold, who unsuccessfully ran for treasurer instead of reelection. Sen. Gale Candaras’s seat went to former Obama White House aide Eric Lesser over Republican Debra Boronski.
Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) was reelected after facing Melrose Republican Monica Medeiros. Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives (D-Newburyport) and Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster) were also reelected.
Sen. Dan Wolf, a Harwich Democrat who briefly mounted a run for governor last year, cruised to reelection over Republican opponent Ron Beaty.