Reporter’s Notebook: Sen. Chang-Diaz makes some inroads with Dorchester voters

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz was late. Supporters of her re-election campaign at Jamaica Plain’s Milky Way restaurant were undeterred in their partying that Tuesday night, as aides confirmed she was cruising to another term over challenger Hassan Williams. But Chang-Diaz hung back, going over the figures coming in from the Second Suffolk District’s various wards and precincts.

“She’s a nerd for the numbers,” said one aide, a half hour before she would enter to applause and take the microphone to address supporters.

So let’s take a look at the numbers: It was a rout over her opponent for Chang-Diaz, who two years earlier won a Democratic primary against incumbent state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson by a 228-vote margin. The campaign between Wilkerson, a Roxbury Democrat, and Chang-Diaz, a Jamaica Plain Democrat, was a racially charged one, and the votes fell along racial lines, with Wilkerson doing best in the area’s minority-dominated neighborhoods. The primary also came weeks after Wilkerson was accused of violating campaign finance laws and weeks before she was arrested on federal corruption charges.

The Second Suffolk Senate District includes a number of Boston communities, including Dorchester, Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, the South End, Beacon Hill, and others. In this primary election, 13,139 voters cast ballots, down from 17,874 voters who went to the polls in the 2008 primary.

Chang-Diaz, now the incumbent, won 58 precincts to Williams’ 13 precincts. Nearly all of Williams’s precincts were in Roxbury.

Chang-Diaz, who ran up wide margins in the Financial District, Chinatown, Back Bay and her own Jamaica Plain, appeared to make some inroads in the Dorchester part of the district.

She won Dorchester’s Ward 14 by a 441-382 margin. She and Williams, a Roxbury attorney, tied in one precinct, and she won five precincts. Williams won one precinct. In 2008, Wilkerson won the ward by a 912-180 margin.

Over in Roxbury’s Ward 12, the contests in each precinct were close, but Williams triumphed in eight out of nine precincts. They tied in one precinct. Overall, Williams won 923 votes, while Chang-Diaz picked up 693 votes. In 2008, Wilkerson picked up 1,798 votes, while Chang-Diaz received 367 votes.
Roxbury’s Ward 12 and Dorchester’s Ward 14 were recently called the “heart of the African American community” by the Bay State Banner.

Chang-Diaz’s best precinct was Precinct 10 in Ward 11, where she lives and where Williams performed the most poorly. She won 197 votes to Williams’s 11. Her worst precinct was Williams’ best, Ward 12’s Precinct 3, where she received 40 votes to Williams’s 93.

In Ward 11 Precinct 2, where Williams lives, he beat her 123 votes to 77 votes.

Williams told the Reporter last week that he intends to run again in two years.

With no Republican on the ballot, Chang-Diaz seems sure to win the Nov. 2 general election and start her second term in January.

Sheriff Cabral hires Dot native to manage re-election campaign

Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral has picked up a Dorchester native and Menino administration official to helm her re-election campaign. Freda Brasfield is taking a leave of absence from her job as regional coordinator for the mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, effective Oct. 1. She handled the Dorchester and Mattapan areas, and had previously served as a “construction monitor,” ensuring job sites adhered to the “Boston Residents Jobs Policy.” The policy encourages businesses to meet resident, minority, and female hiring benchmarks.

“She’s a savvy political veteran, fast on her feet and a perfect choice to lead this campaign,” Cabral said in a statement.

Cabral is facing a challenger, independent candidate Hassan Smith. He is a convicted killer and a former corrections officer. He says he has served his time for the crime and turned his life around.
Brasfield has also worked on campaigns for President Barack Obama, the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, Gov. Deval Patrick, and Menino.

By the numbers: the 2010 primaries

Just 17.6 percent of eligible voters statewide hit the polls and pulled the lever in last week’s primary elections, Secretary of State William Galvin told reporters. The ballots were topped by races for state auditor and state treasurer, seats that opened up after Auditor Joseph DeNucci said he was retiring and state Treasurer Timothy Cahill said he was running for governor as an independent candidate.

According to the State House News Service, Galvin said 728,885 people voted last week, up from 567,406 in the 2008 primaries and 455,128 in the 2004 primaries.  There were more than 4.1 million people eligible to vote. Last week, 487,816 voters pulled Democratic ballots, while 241,069 voters did the same for the GOP.

While neither had a challenger, Lt. Gov. Tim Murray won more votes in the Democratic primary than Gov. Deval Patrick. Murray received 348,631 votes and Patrick 345,764.  For comparison’s sake, Gov. William Weld, running for reelection with Lt. Gov. Paul Cellucci in 1994, won 211,325 votes in the GOP primary to Cellucci’s 196,022.  Weld and Cellucci were also unopposed in the primary.

The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 2 general election is Oct. 13.

Galvin, the state’s elections chief, is forecasting that the general election turnout, compared to the primaries, would at least “triple.” That would mean 2.2 million voters heading to the polls.

Unenrolled voters, who make up the majority of registered voters in Massachusetts, broke nearly evenly for Democrats and Republicans.

More information from the primaries is available at

By the numbers, Part II: the Suffolk poll

Democratic candidate for state treasurer Steve Grossman has an 11-point lead over his Republican opponent, state Rep. Karyn Polito, according to a Suffolk University poll released this week. He is polling at 39 percent to Polito’s 28 percent with 33 percent undecided.

The poll also has Democratic nominee for state auditor Suzanne Bump at 29 percent to Republican Mary Connaughton’s 27 percent. Green-Rainbow Party candidate Nate Fortune is at 3 percent. Forty-one percent say they’re undecided.

The poll also showed a continuously static race for governor, with Patrick maintaining a lead over Republican candidate Charlie Baker, with Treasurer Cahill in the teens and Green Rainbow Party candidate Jill Stein in single digits.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at Material from State House News Service was used in this report.