Cronin edges Tran, but some ballots outstanding

A Tran loss would leave Senate with 3 Republicans

DEMOCRAT NEWCOMER John Cronin appears to have defeated incumbent Sen. Dean Tran by 876 votes, but there’s some wiggle room in that number because the city of Fitchburg is waiting until Friday to verify the accuracy of some 1,000 ballots.

With 100 percent of the district’s precincts reporting, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday that Cronin had 40,631 votes to 39,755 for Tran. Cronin said he believes he has won the race, but Tran has not conceded.

Mary de Alderete, the city clerk in Fitchburg, said that approximately 3,000 ballots had been printed incorrectly and sent to voters. When the error was brought to the attention of the state, new ballots were printed and sent to the affected voters, who were told to fill them out and mail them in.

De Alderete said votes can be tallied with either the incorrect or the corrected ballot, but she said her office is waiting to do the final tally until Friday, the final deadline for mailed-in votes, She estimated about 1,000 ballots are in play.

Cronin said very early Wednesday morning that he thought he had won, but there has been no comment at all from Tran.

The two candidates ran neck-and-neck throughout the Senate district. Tran won Townsend, Westminster, Gardner, and Sterling, while Cronin won Fitchburg, his hometown of Lunenburg, Leominster, Lancaster, Bolton, Clinton, and Berlin. In each municipality, the vote tallies were close.

The race was one of eight contested races in the 40-member Senate, and the only one where an incumbent could possibly lose. A Tran defeat would mean the number of Republicans in the chamber would fall from four to three.

Earlier this year there were six Republicans in the chamber. The number was cut to four in May when special elections to replace two departing Republicans were won by Democrats. Tran, if he loses, would be the third Republican departure this year.

Cronin is a newcomer to politics who, after graduating from West Point, served two tours in Afghanistan and is currently studying for his law degree at Suffolk University. He centered the race around ethical problems Tran faced earlier this year when the Senate disciplined him for using State House staffers to do political work.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The lone debate between the two candidates in October was quite testy, with Cronin suggesting a Senate disciplinary action that stripped the senator of his leadership position meant Tran had “failed his test of leadership.” Tran criticized Cronin, saying he has no experience in government and nothing to offer. He also harshly criticized Cronin for repeatedly dredging up the Senate disciplinary action, which he said was based on false information provided by his political enemies.

“These are the actions of an evil, despicable, immature, and desperate campaign,” Tran said. “In fact, Mr. Cronin, your campaign should be listed under the national registry of hate.”