of state posts part of sweep by Democrats
BOSTON (AP) - Auditor Joseph DeNucci and Secretary of State William Galvin won re-election yesterday, part of a Democratic sweep of state offices.
With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Galvin had earned 82 percent of the votes, while Jill Stein of the Green Party had earned 18 percent.
DeNucci led Working Families candidate Rand Wilson, 81 percent to 19 percent, with 99 percent of the precincts reporting.
The stateís 10 Democratic congressmen, half of whom had no opponent, were easily re-elected.
Republican legislators saw their ranks dwindle on Beacon Hill, losing one of their six seats in the 40-member Senate and two in the House, where they had held 21 of 160 seats going into the election.
In one of the most closely watched races in Western Massachusetts, state Rep. Gale Candaras, D-Wilbraham, defeated Republican Enrico John Villamaino to replace Senate Republican Leader Brian Lees of East Longmeadow, who opted not to run for re-election.
In the House, incumbent GOP state Rep. Susan Pope of Wayland narrowly lost to Democrat Thomas Conroy. And on the Cape, Democrat Sarah Peake of Provincetown defeated Republican Aaron Maloy for the seat held by outgoing Republican state Rep. Shirley Gomes of South Harwich, who did not seek re-election.
House Republican leader Brad Jones, R-North Reading, acknowledged the difficult times.
ďItís a tough environment for Republicans nationally, and itís never easy for Republicans locally,Ē Jones said.
Families Party would like
piece of election action
Patriot Ledger State House Bureau / Oct. 12, 2006
BOSTON - A nascent third-party movement is using an otherwise quiet race for state auditor to gain a foothold in Massachusetts electoral politics.
Rand Wilson of Somerville is on the Nov. 7 ballot as the Working Families Party candidate in the race against incumbent Auditor Joseph DeNucci, a Democrat who does not have a Republican opponent.
Wilson, 53, a labor union organizer and first-time candidate, admits that he doesn’t expect to win the $124,920-a-year auditor’s job. He states no gripes with DeNucci or his record as a 20-year incumbent, isn’t calling for debates and isn’t actively campaigning for the office.
Under state election law, if Wilson can get 3 percent of the vote on Election Day, the Working Families Party will be given official party status and be guaranteed a line on the 2008 general election ballot for all elective statewide and legislative offices.
“The Working Families Party picked the auditor’s race because it’s uncontested,” Wilson acknowledges on the party Web site. “There is no chance that my candidacy would inadvertently ‘spoil’ the race and unseat the current incumbent.”
DeNucci, who is running for his sixth four-year term as auditor, said that on one level, he feels complimented that the fledging party chose to run against him, but he is bothered by the name.
“It only bothers me that they are running under the designation Working Families Party,” he said. “It makes me feel uncomfortable to be running against a working-families candidate because that’s what I’ve stood for during 30 years in public service.”
If, as expected, the party gets official status, it will become a new player in state politics, Wilson said.
“Every vote I get is not a symbolic protest vote; it’s a vote to kick off the Working Families Party and to send a message to the politicians on Beacon Hill that you’re fed up with status quo,” he said.
Party boosters say they’re trying to increase the presence of minor parties in a state heavily dominated by the two major parties. They point to states such as New York and Connecticut, where candidates frequently run under labels such as the Working Families Party, the Independence Party and Conservative Party.
The Working Families Party is also behind Question 2 on the Nov. 7 ballot that, if passed, would allow major party candidates to be endorsed by more than one party in Massachusetts elections.
Under so-called “cross-endorsement” or “fusion” voting, - Democratic or Republican candidates - could accept endorsements from minor parties, and appear under minor parties’ lines on the ballot as well as under their own party’s lines.
For example, John F. Kennedy won the 1960 presidential primary in New York State by running under both the Democratic and the Liberal party lines. Republican Michael Bloomberg won the New York City mayoral race in 2001 with the backing of the Independence Party.
The idea is that voters wouldn’t feel they were “wasting” their vote on a candidate who has no chance of winning. Under fusion voting, they could vote for a major party candidate under a third-party line.
Some analysts say the Working Families Party strategy is to promote its agenda - which is strongly backed by left-leaning union and community groups - on the Democratic Party.
But its boosters say the party will work with any party that will advance its causes.
“We’re a party that will defy ideology,” Wilson said. “We’re going to be focused on the bread-and-butter issues that matter most to the average person.”
Not all minor parties are on board. The Green-Rainbow Party, for example, said it has no interest in trying to impact the two major parties.
“We’re trying to build a third party,” said Grace Ross, the Green-Rainbow candidate for governor.
The major parties traditionally view such movements as “nuisance” parties. Neither the state Democratic nor Republican parties are taking a position on ballot Question 2 or the Working Families Party’s effort to become a player in state politics.
Tom Benner may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.