Biden wave in Mass. doesn’t translate in House

GOP holds its own but doesn’t make many gains

THE BLUE WAVE in Massachusetts for Joe Biden and the state’s congressional delegation didn’t translate into a sweep of House legislative races for Democrats.

Republican state Rep. Leonard Mirra of Georgetown said the presidential race “made things more difficult for [local] Republicans this year,” but he held on to retain his seat, edging Democratic challenger Christina Eckert of Boxford. Mirra won with 51.7 percent of the vote with 86 percent of precincts reporting as of 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

“Lots of Democrats came out to vote for president and voted straight party line for the blue team. I was fortunate to get a lot of those votes,” Mirra said in a phone interview.

Republican newcomers also had a few victories. Kelly Pease of Westfield, a veteran and legislative aide to former state senator Donald Humason, won the Fourth Hampden seat, with 49 percent of the vote, beating out Democrat Matthew Garlo, who received 40 percent, and independent Ethan Flaherty, a 19-year-old political newcomer who got over 9 percent.

“I just want to say I know you don’t get all the votes in an election, but I’m here to represent all the people of Westfield, Democrats and Republicans,” said Pease.

The seat has been vacant since May when Democrat John Velis left the position after being elected to the state Senate.

In the 5th Barnstable District race, Republican Steven Xiarhos, the deputy police chief in Yarmouth, beat Democrat James Dever by 1,167 votes. Dever, a Sandwich school committee member and lawyer, called Xiarhos shortly after 10 p.m. to concede.

“I wish Steven well, he’s a good man,” said Dever in a phone interview. He noted it’s the closest Democrats have come to taking the seat in decades. “Typically the Republican wins by 10 to 15 points,” he said.

As of 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, Xiarhos led Dever 52-47 with 83 percent of precincts reporting. The seat was previously held by Republican Randy Hunt, and the district has sent Republican reps to Beacon Hill for years.

But Democrats scored some victories as well. Democrat Kip Diggs of Barnstable appeared to defeat incumbent Republican William Crocker of Barnstable, taking 53 percent of the vote with 83 percent of precincts reporting.

Meet the Author

Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

The 14th Bristol House seat, held by retiring Republican Rep. Elizabeth Poirier, was on track to flip to Democrats, with North Attleboro Town Council member Adam Scanlon leading fellow council member John Simmons 58 to 41 percent as of 1 a.m. Simmons was endorsed by Poirier and Gov. Charlie Baker.

Sally Kerans, a Democrat from Danvers, reclaimed the rep seat she held from 1991 to 1997, when she stepped down to focus on her family. After her successor, Democrat Ted Speliotis, announced his retirement this year, Kerans decided to get back into politics and fended off challenges from conservative Republican Robert May Jr. and three Independents.