65% of incumbents in Massachusetts Legislature face no opponents

The Massachusetts State House. (National Park Service Photo)

BOSTON — It’s good to be an incumbent on Beacon Hill, and it’s especially good if you hold a leadership position in the House and Senate

That’s one of the main takeaways from the list of candidates who have qualified for the 2024 election cycle as of May 28, with 130 incumbents appearing to go without a challenger in either a primary or the general election. Democrats are expected to continue to hold a super-majority in both chambers.

The list, provided by the office of Secretary of State Bill Galvin, who oversees Massachusetts elections, comes with some caveats. Candidates can still withdraw their names in the coming days, or opponents can challenge an aspect of their candidacy with a state commission.

But the list offers an early preview of how little competition voters will see in the coming election cycle, and what’s in store for the 200 seats that make up the House and Senate. Similar to 2022, House Speaker Ron Mariano of Quincy and Senate President Karen Spilka of Ashland, the top Democrats in each chamber, are running unopposed in their respective districts.

In the 40-member Senate, 26 incumbents do not face a challenger, including Sen. Michael Rodrigues, a Westport Democrat atop the Senate’s Ways and Means Committee. Eight incumbents are facing a challenge only in the general election, three are facing a challenge in the primary, and three senators are stepping down, prompting several candidates to jump into those races.

In the 160-member House, Boston Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, who is widely viewed as the next speaker, does not face a challenger, joining 103 other legislators in the lower chamber who don’t have to worry about a tough time on the campaign trail this summer.

There are 25 House incumbents facing a challenge only in the general election, 15 are facing primary challengers, and 16 are leaving the House, creating an open seat.

In both branches, the leaders of the minority party, including Rep. Brad Jones of North Reading in the House and Sen. Bruce Tarr of Gloucester, didn’t draw any opponents.

Challengers can still emerge if they get enough write-in votes in the September primary. Republicans are eyeing that strategy in their hopes to oust Rep. Chris Flanagan, a Democrat from Dennis who was hit with financial penalties earlier this year after campaign finance regulators showed he lied to them about the source of a 2022 campaign mailer.

Among the newly elected, Sen. Peter Durant, who represents cities and towns in parts of Worcester and Hampshire counties after winning a special election last year and flipping a seat from red to blue after longtime incumbent Anne Gobi left for the Healey administration, won’t face a challenger. His Democratic opponent from the special election, Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik, opted to run for reelection instead, and faces a Republican he’s beaten twice before.

The Senate will see three open seats as Sen. Marc Pacheco isn’t seeking another two year term, and Susan Moran and Walter Timilty are giving up their seats to run for county clerk positions. The openings have drawn a smattering of Democratic, Republican, and unenrolled candidates.

There are 16 open House seats, several of which were created due to the domino effect of the Senate seats opening up, in addition to retirements. Even among two open contests, there is no competition.

Hadley Luddy, an Orleans Democrat, appears to be the only one vying for the seat held by Provincetown Rep. Sarah Peake, a member of the House since 2007.

In western Massachusetts, Easthampton City Council President Homar Gomez is the only candidate for a seat that opened up this year after Easthampton Rep. Daniel Carey, a Democrat in office since 2019, announced he is running for Hampshire clerk of courts.

This article first appeared on CommonWealth Beacon and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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