Governor’s battle tops busy ballot; free rides mark local, state races

Four candidates for governor. Three candidates for Congress in one district. And a post-primary rematch of sorts occurring in a state representative district. Dorchester and Mattapan voters will hit the polls next Tuesday to pull the lever for candidates running for those seats and others.

Many politicians in heavily Democratic Boston area are going unchallenged. A State House News Service analysis of ballots across the state shows that 14 senators and 71 state representatives do not have opponents. In that group of 85 incumbents coasting to reelection, 72 are Democrats and 13 are Republicans. Just one Republican is running for office locally – in a district that mainly covers South Boston.

Three controversial ballot questions are also up for a vote.

Registered voters unsure of where to head on Election Day can find out online at where A little more than half of voters across the state are registered as unenrolled, meaning they are not members of either the Democratic or Republican Party. Suffolk County, which includes Dorchester and Mattapan, is more Democratic than the state, with 54 percent of voters identifying themselves as Democrats. Seven percent say they are Republicans, and the rest say they are unenrolled.
Following is an overview of the races. Candidates’ positions are available on their respective websites and the Reporter’s coverage can be found at


GOVERNOR/LT. GOVERNOR – Gov. Deval Patrick, on the ticket with running mate Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, is up for reelection. He has reportedly said that this will be his last run for governor. He faces Republican Charles Baker, a former health insurance executive, and his running mate, state Sen. Richard Tisei. Independent candidate Timothy Cahill, the state treasurer who bolted the Democratic Party last year, is also in the race. His original running mate, former Republican state Rep. Paul Loscocco, bailed on him on Oct. 1 and endorsed Baker. By then it was too late to take his name off the ballot, and Cahill has said he would immediately demand Losccoco’s resignation if he wins the governor’s race. He plans to serve without a lieutenant governor. Green-Rainbow Party candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Richard Purcell are also on the ballot.

STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL – Attorney General Martha Coakley, an incumbent Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate earlier this year, is up against Republican candidate James McKenna. The attorney general acts as the state’s top cop, handling cases dealing with consumer protection, fraud, civil rights violations, health care, and insurance issues.

STATE TREASURER – Steve Grossman, a longtime fundraiser for Democrats and a former candidate for governor, is running against Republican state Rep. Karyn Polito, who has served in the House since 2000. The treasurer oversees the state Lottery, the Massachusetts School Building Authority, and the Pension Reserves Investment Management board.

STATE AUDITOR – Former state Labor Secretary Suzanne Bump, a Democrat, is running against Republican Mary Z. Connaughton, a certified public accountant and former member of the now-defunct Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board. The auditor offers independent evaluations of various state government agencies.

U.S. CONGRESS (Ninth District) – Stephen Lynch of South Boston, a Congressman since 2001, faces off against Braintree Republican Vernon Harrison and independent candidate Phil Dunkelbarger. Lynch cruised to the Democratic nomination in September over challenger Mac D’Alessandro. The seat includes Dorchester as well as 21 other neighborhoods and towns.

MASS. HOUSE (Fourth Suffolk) – A Democrat and Republican are running to replace retiring state Rep. Brian Wallace (D-South Boston). Nicholas Collins, a former aide to Sen. Jack Hart, is the Democrat. Patrick Brennan is a local accountant and Republican local activist. The district includes Ward Six (all precincts), Ward Seven (Precincts One through Nine) and Ward Thirteen (Precincts Three and Six). That translates into South Boston, and parts of Dorchester, including Uphams Corner, Harbor Point, and the Polish Triangle.

MASS. HOUSE (Fifth Suffolk) – Carlos Henriquez triumphed in a four-way September primary for the seat vacated during the summer by Marie St. Fleur, picking up the Democratic nomination. Barry Lawton, an East Boston high school teacher, came in 41 votes behind, and is waging a write-in campaign. The Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan district includes Precinct 10 of Ward Seven, Precincts Five and Seven of Ward Eight, Precinct Six of Ward Twelve, Precincts One through Six of Ward Thirteen, Precincts One to Five and Seven to Nine of Ward 15, Precinct One of Ward 16 and Precinct Two of Ward Seventeen.

UNOPPOSED – Congressman Michael Capuano of Somerville, a Democrat representing the Eighth District, which includes parts of Dorchester and Mattapan; Second Suffolk state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, after winning the September Democratic primary to represent the district, which runs through Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Back Bay, the South End, Beacon Hill, and Chinatown; State Sen. Jack Hart (D-South Boston), who represents the First Suffolk District, which includes Dorchester and South Boston; Russell Holmes, who won the Democratic primary in September to succeed retiring state Rep. Willie Mae Allen, has no Republican opponent and in January is expected to be representing the district running through Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, as well as small parts of Jamaica Plain and Roslindale; Governor’s Councillor Christopher Iannella, Jr., a longtime member of an eight-member independently elected body that vets the governor’s judicial nominees; incumbent Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley; and incumbent state Reps. Martin Walsh of Savin Hill, Linda Dorcena Forry of Lower Mills, and Elizabeth Malia of Jamaica Plain. All are Democrats.
(Still Very) Quiet Ones – The ballot also has a few races that continue to fly below the radar this fall. They include candidates for Secretary of State and Suffolk County sheriff. Secretary of State William Galvin, a Democrat, faces Republican William Campbell and Independent candidate Jim Henderson. In the race for sheriff, incumbent Andrea Cabral faces former corrections officer Hassan Smith, who is running as an independent. There are no Republican candidates in the race.

BALLOT QUESTIONS – (Editor’s Note: The original text for explanations of the ballot questions was made available by the Secretary of State’s office. It was edited and condensed for space.)

Question 1: This proposed law would remove the Massachusetts sales tax on alcoholic beverages and alcohol, where the sale of such beverages and alcohol or their importation into the state is already subject to a separate excise tax under state law. The proposed law would take effect on January 1, 2011.

A YES VOTE would remove the state sales tax on alcoholic beverages and alcohol where their sale or importation into the state is subject to an excise tax under state law.
A NO VOTE would make no change in the state sales tax on alcoholic beverages and alcohol.

Question 2: This proposed law would repeal an existing state law that allows a qualified organization wishing to build government-subsidized housing that includes low- or moderate-income units to apply for a single comprehensive permit from a city or town’s zoning board of appeals (ZBA), instead of separate permits from each local agency or official having jurisdiction over any aspect of the proposed housing. The repeal would take effect on Jan. 1, 2011, but would not stop or otherwise affect any proposed housing that had already received both a comprehensive permit and a building permit for at least one unit.

A YES VOTE would repeal the state law allowing the issuance of a single comprehensive permit to build housing that includes low- or moderate-income units.
A NO VOTE would make no change in the state law allowing issuance of such a comprehensive permit.

Question 3: This proposed law would reduce the state sales and use tax rates (which were 6.25 percent as of September 2009) to 3 percent as of Jan. 1, 2011. It would make the same reduction in the rate used to determine the amount to be deposited with the state Commissioner of Revenue by non-resident building contractors as security for the payment of sales and use tax on tangible personal property used in carrying out their contracts. The proposed law provides that if the 3percent rates would not produce enough revenues to satisfy any lawful pledge of sales and use tax revenues in connection with any bond, note, or other contractual obligation, then the rates would instead be reduced to the lowest level allowed by law.

The proposed law would not affect the collection of moneys due the Commonwealth for sales, storage, use or other consumption of tangible personal property or services occurring before Jan. 1, 2011.

A YES VOTE would reduce the state sales and use tax rates to 3 percent.
A NO VOTE would make no change in the state sales and use tax rates.

Material from State House News Service was used in this report.