Mirroring results showing incumbents fending off challenges across the Bay State, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch and state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz easily beat back their Democratic primary contenders on Tuesday.
Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, snapped up 65 percent of the Ninth Congressional District vote to Milton Democrat Mac D’Alessandro’s 35 percent, with 219 precincts out of 225 precincts reporting by early Wednesday. In Boston, Lynch received 63.2 percent of the vote, while D’Alessandro gained 30.4 percent.
D’Alessandro, a top Service Employees Union (SEIU) 1199 official, had hammered Lynch, who has held the seat since 2001, over votes against health care reform and in support of funding for military operations.
The unofficial result posted on the city of Boston’s Elections department late Tuesday had Chang-Diaz winning 70.3 percent to Williams’ 22 percent. The district includes Dorchester, Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, the South End, and Beacon Hill.
Lynch now faces Vernon Harrison in the Nov. 2 general election. Harrison, a Braintree resident, won the Republican primary with 63 percent. War photojournalist Keith Lepor received 35 percent, or 5,745 votes.
Longtime Democratic Party fundraiser and activist Steve Grossman won his battle with Boston City Councillor At-Large Stephen Murphy to face Republican Karyn Polito in November’s race for state treasurer. And Suzanne Bump, Gov. Deval Patrick’s former labor chief, came out ahead in a three-way race for the Democratic nomination for state auditor. Worcester County Sheriff Guy Glodis and Northeastern University official Michael Lake were also vying for the chance to face off against Republican Mary Connaughton, a certified public accountant.
Chang-Diaz, a Jamaica Plain Democrat running for another term, trounced Roxbury attorney Hassan Williams in the Democratic primary for the Second Suffolk District. Williams, who was making his first run for office, vowed to run again in two years. With no Republican running, Chang-Diaz is virtually guaranteed to win a second term on Nov. 2.
“In a year of anti-incumbent rage, we come in with…76 percent,” Chang-Diaz told supporters at the Milky Way restaurant in Jamaica Plain, as the votes were still being tallied. During her speech, she recalled with pride that at one point, while her volunteers were phone-banking for her, four languages were being spoken in her campaign office: Russian, Spanish, English, and Haitian Creole.
Chang-Diaz said she would focus in her second term on legislation cracking down on gun trafficking, as well as education policy and protecting human service and education programs for the district. “Next year is going to be consumed by an extraordinarily difficult budget,” she said.
Some 40 Williams supporters gathered Tuesday night at his Washington St. campaign headquarters in Roxbury, many coming in from polling stations with tally sheets in hand and swapping accounts on turnout and support. In his speech, Williams was hopeful, characterizing the race as “taking crumbs and making a meal,” as the first step in a longer journey.
“We will keep pushing to make sure that the voice of this district is heard in every corner,” Williams said. ”We’re not going to be taken for granted, we’re going to step up and we’re actually going to fight,” he said. “We’re not going anywhere.”
Williams, who said he spent $17,000 of his own money in the race, told the Reporter that he will run again for the seat in two years. “She ran twice before she won. She will see us again. The next time she sees us, we’ll be much more organized, much better funded, and we have two years to plan,” Williams said.
“Rest assured that I will know everybody in this entire district, from Beacon Hill to Roslindale. I’ll be at every single meeting in every single district, so she better start working in every neighborhood because I will be in every neighborhood,” Williams said.
Asked about his comment, Chang-Diaz said, “Anybody running is part of the small ‘d’ democratic process,” she said. “That’s a process I believe in and I’ll take them as they come and always work to have a record to take back to the district.”
This time around, she promoted the part she played in getting legislation on criminal offender record information (CORI) reform, bilingual ballots and summer youth jobs to the governor’s desk. On the campaign trail, Williams said she should be giving credit to former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson for filing the bills, and accused Chang-Diaz of “plagiarism.” Chang-Diaz beat Wilkerson in 2008 by 228 votes. Weeks later, Wilkerson was arrested on federal corruption charges. She pleaded guilty to the charges this summer, avoiding a fall trial.
In the 2008 primary, 17,874 voters went to the polls in the Second Suffolk District. This time, 13,170 votes were cast.
But Williams also drew criticism from Chang-Diaz supporters for avoiding clear answers on how he would vote on gay marriage and his feelings on abortion.
Lynch, speaking with the State House News Service, said employment levels were causing headaches for Democrats. “Whenever you have unemployment this high, especially for Democrats, where we are perceived to be in control … obviously, there’s a greater tendency to hold us accountable, and I think that’s probably appropriate,” said the South Boston Democrat, first elected in 2001. “We’re having a very difficult time, this is a very tough recession, so you have to work extra hard to get your message out to voters,” he said.
D’Alessandro told the Beacon Hill wire service that while there was a lot of chatter of anti-incumbent sentiment among voters, “It could have been one of those things where people hate Congress and love their congressman.”
Material from State House News Service was used in this report.