2020 Primary Election Debrief

Tuesday's primary broke records, with more than 1.5 million people casting ballots. By contrast, fewer than 1 million people voted in the 2018 state primaries.

What accounts for the difference? A hotly contested Senate race drove turnout for sure. But a major driver was the expansion of vote-by-mail and early voting, which alerted more people to the fact that an election was even happening and made it easier for them to participate. As the next legislative session nears, it will be important to make these reforms not just a pandemic-induced one-off but a part of how we do elections in Massachusetts.

Another major winner on Tuesday? Senator Ed Markey. Markey's campaign was able to clearly communicate his history of delivering for Massachusetts and leading on progressive policy (especially on climate action), and he was able to combine support from party regulars with energized youth activists who combined a spirited online presence with a commitment to organizing and mobilizing voters of all ages. When Congressman Joe Kennedy first announced, early polls showed him leading: on Tuesday, Markey won 55.4% to 44.6%, a double-digit win. Kudos to all involved.

While high turnout should always be celebrated, it may have made an uphill battle even steeper for Congressional primary challengers, as countless voters may have cast their ballots before the challengers' had the chance to make contact with them (or may have never even been in an expected voter universe). Despite this and the myriad of challenges posed by COVID, Holyoke mayor Alex Morse was able to pull 41.2% of the vote against Congressman Richard Neal, and physician Robbie Goldstein 33.3% of the vote against Congressman Stephen Lynch. We're excited for their political futures and hope that Neal and Lynch realize that they're on watch.


So How about the State Senate?

In the Springfield-based Hampden district, progressive Springfield City Councilor Adam Gomez defeated centrist incumbent Jim Welch 52.5% - 47.5%, adding another progressive voice to the MA Senate and increasing the size of the Senate Black & Latino Caucus.

Disappointingly, over in the southern suburbs and exurbs of Boston, progressive challenger Jarred Rose lost to conservative incumbent Walter Timilty 68.1% to 31.9%. A clear sign of the turnout jump from this year? Jarred Rose got 11,637 votes; in 2018's uncontested race, Timilty got just 1,000 more total votes than that. More than twice as many ballots were cast as were in the contested open race for this seat in 2016.

So How about the State House?

Three of our endorsees --Steve Owens, Orlando Ramos, and Erika Uyterhoeven -- won in their open primaries to replace Representatives Jon Hecht, Joe Tosado, and Denise Provost, respectively. All three had strong voter outreach operations and clear messages.

Other candidates -- whether running in open seats or against incumbents -- were not so lucky, although some came extremely close. Given challenges they faced -- the inability to run as aggressive of a field operation due to the pandemic, huge spikes in turnout learned about too late to adjust, and a wave of outside spending from allies of Charlie Baker and Bob DeLeo --they all did respectably, and we look forward to what comes next for all of them. They were fighting for progressive policy change before they started running, and we know they will continue to do so -- and have inspired more people to join because of their campaigns.


Orlando Ramos (9th Hampden): WON 47.0% - 39.1% Hurst - 14.0% Mullan [Won by 552 votes]

Marianela Rivera (17th Essex): LOST 64.4% - 35.5% 

Lisa Arnold (17th Middlesex): LOST --  43.8% Howard (WON) - 32.1% Nangle (incumbent) - 24.1% Arnold 

Erika Uyerhoeven (27th Middlesex): WON -- Uyterhoeven 62% - Sharp 38% 

Steve Owens (29th Middlesex): WON -- Owens 59.65% - Sideris 22.95% - Ciccarelli 17.4% 

Andrew Flowers (8th Norfolk): LOST -- Philips 51.7% - Flowers 48.3% [lost by 342 votes] 

Damali Vidot (2nd Suffolk): LOST -- Ryan 57.6% - Vidot 42.4% 

Gretchen Van Ness (14th Suffolk): LOST  -- Consalvo 53.4% - GVN 32.1% - Duckens 14.5% 

Joe Gravellese (16th Suffolk): LOST -- Giannino 61.45% - Gravellese 38.55% 

Jordan Meehan (17th Suffolk): LOST 54.2% Honan - 45.8% Meehan [lost by 662 votes]

Ceylan Rowe (12th Worcester): LOST -- Kilcoyne 51.4% - Rowe 28.2% - Turner 20.2% 

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published this page in On the Newsstand 2020-09-05 21:01:20 -0400
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