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5 Local Races You Should Be Watching

Thursday, August 02, 2012


Learn more about the five local races you should be watching.

As Democrats and Republicans are set to face off on the state and national levels this fall, there are several local races set to bring the fight to our backyard.

Both Democrats and Republicans noted that the races in Central Mass. feature some of the most extreme candidates on either side. While Democrats hope to eliminate Republicans who appeal to the Tea Party extreme, Republicans aim to balance Beacon Hill.

“Worcester County sends some of the most extreme Republicans in the legislature,” said Kevin Franck, Communications Director for the Mass. Democratic Party. “We’re working on a massive grassroots campaign to bolster our local candidates.”

Chris Pinto, vice chairman of the City Republican Committee, said this will be an important election season as the party looks to continue to bolster its numbers in the state legislature.

“We’re finally getting some traction on Beacon Hill,” Pinto said. “There’s so many things we can accomplish if we add more numbers. It is in the interest of everyone to have more balance.”

No Easy Re-Election

While most Democrats in the Worcester districts hope to easily be re-elected, two-term State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) is facing a Republican challenger for his seat: newcomer Dean Cavaretta, a consultant looking to break into politics.

Eldridge, who began representing the towns of Acton, Boxborough, Littleton, Ayer, Shirley, Devens, Harvard, Stow, Maynard, Hudson, Marlborough, Southborough, and Westborough along with parts of Northborough and Sudbury in 2009, hopes to continue his work on the hill “enhancing public education, stimulating the economy, promoting campaign and ethics reform, protecting the environment, improving public safety, expanding access to health care, and improving public transportation.”

Before serving in the State Senate, Eldridge represented the 37th Middlesex District as a State Representative for three terms.

Pinto marked this as a particularly important race in the area as he sees Eldridge as a far-left progressive who needs to be replaced.

“He doesn’t fit in the district,” Pinto said.

Although Cavaretta is running as a Republican, he claims he will be an independent voice on Beacon Hill – putting education and the economy first. Cavaretta began his political career as Deputy Campaign Manager for Karyn Polito in her run unsuccessful for State Treasurer in 2010.

Franck argued that Cavaretta was manufacturing the appearance of support in the district, creating many Twitter accounts with very few followers.

State Sen. Michael Moore

“If you look at the lengths he’s going to to create the appearance of support it is obvious he doesn’t have any,” Franck said.

Throwing Punches

State Sen. Michael Moore, seeking his third term, will also face a Republican challenger in Steve Simonian of Auburn.

Moore (D-Millbury) was elected in 2008 to represent the district which covers parts of Worcester, Auburn, Grafton, Leicester, Millbury, Shrewsbury, Upton and parts of Northbridge. He currently is the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, Vice Chair of the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, and serves on the Senate Committee on Ways & Means and the Committee on Post Audit and Oversight.

Simonian, currently a Selectman in Auburn, said he is committed to working across party lines, but also openly blasts the current politicians in the Senate.

Steve Simonian

“It is a free-for-all on Beacon Hill, full of narcissists who have forgotten they asked for our support, and promised to represent our wishes, our ideals, and our best interests,” Simonian writes on his campaign website.

Facing In-Party Challenger

In an unusual twist, incumbent Richard Bastien will have to face an opponent, Scott Graves, in the September Republican primary before either will go on to face Democratic challenger Jonathan Zlotnik.

Bastien (R- Gardner) hopes to work in his second term to unburden small businesses and fight for public education.

Graves, a longtime City Councilor in Gardner and local attorney, pledges to fight against government bureaucracy and promises never to vote to raise taxes.

One of the two will face Zlotnik (D- Gardner), a 22-year-old with experience on Beacon Hill as an intern. He hopes to eliminate partisan politics and focus on real solutions.

While Zlotnik may be young, Franck said he’ll bring a fresh approach to representing his community.

State Rep. James O'Day

“Bastien is a perfect example of a Republican that was about making headline rather than working for his communities,” Franck said.

Two Times The Challengers

Five year State Rep. James O’Day (D-West Boylston) will be facing two challenges for his seat this fall from William McCarthy (R- Worcester) and Winthrop Handy (I-West Boylston).

O’Day is facing a challengers for the first time since being elected in a special election in 2007. Since his election, he has worked to promote business and jobs growth along with being a leader in the community.

William McCarthy

McCarthy, who has previously run unsuccessfully for sheriff, hopes to make a name for himself in challenging O’Day on economic issues.

Handy nearly lost his spot on the ballot due in a challenge of his campaign signatures, but the Ballot Law Commission ruled in his favor. Although he’s a late comer to the race, Handy, a light commissioner in West Boylston, thinks he can bring valuable knowledge on energy resources to the office.

O’Day is another candidate Pinto hopes to see ousted from his seat.

“He’s all about tax and spend,” Pinto said.

Winthrop Handy

Franck said O’Day continues to receive a lot of positive support within the community and has always stood behind his voting record.

Five-Way Race… In the Primary

After State Rep. Vincent Pedone stepped down earlier this year, five candidates are scrambling for the chance to be the Democratic nominee to face off against Republic Brian O’Malley.

Candidates Frank Beshai, Dianna Biancheria, Mary Keefe, Ralph Perez and Kate Toomey are all campaigning for a chance to win the Democratic primary in September.

Beshai, who most recently ran for Worcester County Sheriff as a Republican, is a longtime fixture in local politics who touts his decades of business experience to qualify him as a candidate.

City Councilor Toomey is looking to move her political career to Beacon Hill with a focus on supporting middle class families, business development and education.

Biancheria seeks to bring her experience as a longtime Worcester School Committee member and former Chief of Staff to Mayor Raymond Mariano to the hill.

Mary Keefe, a founding member of Progressive Democrats in Massachusetts, says she will continue to serve the community if elected.

Finally, Ralph Perez seeks to bring common sense along with his minority voice to the seat.


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