GROTON – On a night that saw an historical shift in the nation’s political landscape from one party to another, Groton joined other Massachusetts voters in supporting a full slate of Democratic candidates with even the near exception of the governor’s race a nail biter to the end.
In that race, Republican candidate Charlie Baker had the upper hand in town by topping Democratic opponent Martha Coakley 2,429 to 1,746.
The electoral boost helped propel Baker to an eventual win that could not be declared until the early hours of Nov. 5.
“Charlie Baker was what brought me out today,” declared Brandon Westramski before the results of Baker’s narrow victory were known. “As well as question three on the casinos bill.”
“I felt there was a need for a change,” said David Happ of the governor’s race. “Massachusetts has a terrible record on second amendment rights.”
“The governor’s race brought me out,” began Jamie King, “and the ballot questions, the bottle bill, sick time, etc.”
Sheila Harrington was the only other local Republican who drew favor from local voters who gave her a 2,854 to 1,367 victory over Democratic challenger Gene Rauhala for state Representative in the First Middlesex District.
In all other races, Groton residents threw their support to Democrats helping to keep Massachusetts solidly in the blue column:
Democratic incumbent Edward Markey beat Republican Brian Helm 2,356 to 1,915; and having won statewide as well, will remain as one of the state’s two U.S. Senators. Markey will return to Congress as a member of the minority party as races elsewhere in the country gave control of both houses of Congress to Republicans.
Also being returned to the U.S. House of Representatives is Niki Tsongas who won 2,603 to 1,686 Groton votes in Groton against Republican challenger Roseann Ehrhard Wofford. Winning in the rest of the Third District, Tsongas will remain as a member of the state’s all Democratic representation in Congress.
Running without any opposition, incumbent Eileen Donaghue will return to Beacon Hill as state senator for the First Middlesex District. In Groton, she received 3,034 votes.
Groton residents also went with the statewide trend and voted 2,410 to 1,813 to elect Democrat Maura Healy over Republican John Miller as their next Attorney General and 2,604 to 1,413 to elect Democrat William Galvin over Republican David D’Archangelo for Secretary of State.
Groton’s choice of Republican Michael Heffernan over Deborah Goldberg with a vote of 2,057 to 1,871 did not bear out statewide where a majority of voters picked Goldberg over Heffernan.
With an unusually heavy turnout across the commonwealth, Groton’s polling places were kept busy all day on Election Day with lines of residents waiting to be checked in at the Country Club location forming intermittently during the evening commute.
According to Town Clerk Michael Bouchard, 4,512 of Groton’s 7,755 registered voters appeared at the polls Nov. 4 or 58 percent of the total.
“Turnout today was very good,” said Bouchard during the evening rush hour when voters were streaming into the Country Club precincts, many with children in tow. “With the governor’s race and the ballot questions, we expected a big day.”
Parking in the Country Club’s small lot was at a premium with empty spaces being filled by those yet to vote as fast as they were vacated by those who already cast their ballots.
Also having a hand in the healthy turnout was good weather.
“It was the close governor’s race that brought me out,” said resident Sandy McMath of what prompted her to brave the crowds that thronged the Country Club. “And the questions!”
“All of the ballot questions were important,” added fellow resident Sandra Kilbashian who went to the polls accompanied by granddaughter Jordan. “I think that the bottle bill was pretty important because I care about the Earth and climate change.”
Kilbashian, as well as Groton voters who felt like she did, ended up being disappointed with the bottle bill (question 2 on the ballot) as the measure was rejected by voters statewide. In Groton, voters also rejected the measure by a vote of 3,064 to 1,289.
Residents in Groton also chose 2,430 to 1,817 not to support having the state’s gas tax rise automatically with inflation without a vote by the legislature (question 1). Their decision was mirrored statewide as voters across the commonwealth agreed with them.
Grotonians also went with the statewide flow by voting 2,493 to 1,852 to keep Governor Deval Patrick’s casino gambling initiative legal and 2,348 to 1,927 to require all businesses in the state to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each year to employees.
A fifth nonbinding ballot question that sought to instruct the district’s representative in Congress to “affirm that rights protected under the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only” and to “place limits on political contributions and political spending” was supported by a vote of 2,774 to 901. Perhaps reflecting some confusion among voters as to the exact meaning of the resolution, 837 votes left the question blank.
“It was mainly the ballot questions that brought me out,” said Wanda Antosh as she left the Country Club polling location.
“I was interested in all the issues,” commented Tom Pistorino, reflecting on a point likely on the minds of many voters. “I tried to understand as much about the ballot questions as possible but I found them confusing.”
In other races decided on Nov. 4, Groton residents voted 2,015 to 1,820 in favor of Democrat Suzanne Bump for Auditor over Republican challenger Patricia Saint-Auburn and Green-Rainbow candidate MK Merelice; voted 2,063 to 1,858 in favor of Democrat Eileen Duff over Republican Maura Ryan-Ciardiello for Councilor in the Fifth District; voted in an uncontested race 4,512 to 2,919 for Democrat Marian Ryan for District Attorney for the Northern District; voted 2,042 to 1,847 in favor of Democrat Tara DeCristofaro over Republican John Lambert, Sr. for Register of Probate.