No election highlights for Massachusetts GOP

Murray wins, Republican House numbers shrink

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the number of House Republicans members scheduled to be sworn in on Jan. 2, 2013. The correct number is 29, down from the current 33.


HOUSE REPUBLICANS on Tuesday relinquished some gains they made during the 2010 elections, adding to a miserable showing across Massachusetts that had the GOP being swept in Congressional races, losing the US Senate seat held by Scott Brown, and taking a drubbing in the presidential race.

The scorecard for Republicans was so bad Wednesday that it appeared the pickup of an open House seat by West Newbury’s Leonard Mirra represented the party’s biggest victory of the night. While a few Republicans in the House and Senate defeated challengers, three House GOP members were defeated by newcomers and Republicans failed to beat a single incumbent Democrat in House and Senate races.

The blue rout underscored a big problem for down-ballot Republicans in Massachusetts – a heavy turnout among Democrats in presidential elections every four years makes it even tougher for the GOP to win here.

Senate Democrats will keep their 36-4 numerical advantage over Republicans in the 2013-2014 session and House Republicans will enter the session with 29 members, rather than the current 33. Based on the election results, 130 Democrats are scheduled to be sworn in as House members on Jan. 2, 2013. The numbers mean Gov. Deval Patrick during his last two years in office will retain the comfort of working with large Democratic majorities in both branches.

Senate President Therese Murray brushed aside what was seen as one the most significant Republican challenges on Tuesday, easily outpolling Sandwich’s Tom Keyes, who had attempted to topple Murray by linking her to a series of ethical scandals that downed other State House politicians in the past few years.

While 27 senators ran unopposed Tuesday, Murray and nine others easily defeated challengers, including Sen. Barry Finegold’s dispatching of Rep. Paul Adams (R-Andover), who fell into the electoral abyss as he tried to make the leap from one chamber to the other.

With her win, Murray is assured of one more term as Senate president and a potential role in handing off one of Beacon Hill’s most powerful jobs for the 2015-2016 session, when she won’t be eligible to remain Senate president because of legislative rules limiting the holder of that job to eight years.

Incumbents were not on Tuesday’s ballot in only three Senate districts and Democrats won each of them, including a right-leaning district near the New Hampshire border.

Haverhill Republican Shaun Toohey gave Newburyport Democrat Kathleen O’Connor Ives a scare, but O’Connor Ives prevailed in a four-person race to keep for the Democrats the seat formerly held by Sen. Steven Baddour of Methuen. Former Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington will return to Beacon Hill to fill the seat Sen. Susan Fargo (D-Lincoln) is giving up. And the seat long held by Sen. Fred Berry, who is retiring, went to Salem Democrat Joan Lovely, who beat Beverly Republican Richard A. Jolitz.

Republicans more than doubled their numbers in the House after the 2010 elections, and while a few freshman House members were knocked off Tuesday, most of them won, including Rep. James Lyons, who beat former Rep. Barbara L’Italien by just over 500 votes for the second time in three years.

But any hopes the House Republicans might have harbored about moving closer to being able to sustain a gubernatorial veto vanished as the election results ticked in Tuesday night.

West of Boston, Marlborough Republican Steven Levy was upended by Marlborough Democrat Danielle Gregoire in a rematch of their 2010 election. Preliminary numbers indicated 9,111 votes for Gregoire to 8,881 for Levy.

To the north, Gardner Democrat Jonathan Zlotnik took from Rep. Richard Bastien the seat the Gardner Republican won two years ago in a pickup for Republicans. Unofficial tallies show 8,512 votes for Zlotnik and 8,181 for Bastien.

To the south, Attleboro Republican George Ross was felled by Democrat Paul Heroux and Democrat Josh Cutler of Duxbury defeated Duxbury Republican Karen Barry, flipping a seat held by Rep. Dan Webster (R-Hanson), a five-term state representative who ended his re-election campaign in September just days after declaring victory in a tough primary against a late write-in challenger.

Webster has been dealing with legal issues stemming from accusations that he mismanaged client funds at his Pembroke law firm. His law license was suspended in 2010, and according to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers hearings on his potential disbarment are scheduled for this week.

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The election results mean a significant downsizing of a small band of conservative Republicans who at times clashed on issues with House Republicans led by veteran Minority Leader Brad Jones of North Reading. Adams, Levy and Webster all will not return to the House in January.

Orange Democrat Rep. Denise Andrews nearly lost, but outpolled Republican Susannah Lee of Athol by less than 200 votes, according to preliminary data.