Rain failed to deter Massachusetts voters who turned out in robust midterm numbers Tuesday to reelect Republican Governor Charlie Baker and Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren by commanding margins.
Their decisive victories are the strongest indication that Massachusetts, a historically dark blue state, continues to be much more willing to send a Republican to the State House than they are to the U.S. Congress.
Aside from Baker, Democrats claimed victory in every other major statewide race.
Democratic candidates also swept all of Massachusetts’ nine House seats and are now poised enter the 116th Congress as the majority party.
Voters also defeated a ballot question that would have limited the number of patients that can be assigned to any nurse and voted to preserving state prohibitions on discrimination against transgender individuals in public spaces. Voters also approved the creation of a commission to examine limiting money in politics.
Statewide turnout was estimated at about 2.4 million voters, eclipsing turnout mid-term state elections in 2014 (2.2 million) and 2010 (2.3 million).
Race for Governor
Unofficial results show Baker drew more than two-thirds of the vote over his Democratic challenger Jay Gonzalez, who garnered just over 32 percent, according to the Associated Press.
The margin was a significant improvement over Baker’s 2014 run for governor, where he eked out a four-point win against his Democratic opponent. The victory also marks the first time in more than two decades that a Republican has gone on to serve a second term in the corner office.
In 1994, it was Baker’s boss and mentor, Gov. William Weld, who soared to reelection with 71 percent of the vote. Former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, by comparison, was reelected with a bit more than 48 percent of the vote — the same as Baker's first election.
Voters appeared, by and large, to favor Baker’s managerial style of governance over the Democrat’s vision of broad and sweeping reforms. Throughout the campaign, Baker frequently touted his efforts to improve the state’s ailing transit system from the inside out, bolster the embattled Department of Children and Families, combat the opioid epidemic and expand energy options for the state — all without raising taxes.
Those items were often the subject of criticism by activists and Democrats, like Gonzalez, who argued Baker wasn’t being aggressive enough in tackling state issues.
Gonzalez, campaigning on the theme "aim high," had vowed to raise taxes on the state’s highest earners in order to accomplish his agenda, which included universal pre-kindergarten, single payer health care, and expanding transit infrastructure — among other priorities.
Baker thanked his supporters for giving him “a big win, and the rest of the night off," and said he thanked Gonzalez for his public service. “And you know what? You should too!”
U.S. Senate Race
In the U.S. Senate race, Warren easily cruised to victory over her Republican opponent, state Rep. Geoff Diehl. An ardent Trump supporter, Diehl lost by double digits, according to the Associated Press, which called the race for Warren shortly after polls closed.
During the campaign, Warren she would take a “hard look” at running in 2020 after the election. Diehl made her presidential aspirations the cornerstone of his campaign harping on those ambitions and promising voters that he’d be a full-time U.S. Senator.
During her victory speech Tuesday night, Warren made no mention of any future political aspirations, saying, “Tonight, you told me to stay in the fight."
She added, “I promise I will never stop working my heart out for you. Never,” she said.
Republican Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito won alongside ticketmate Gov. Charlie Baker, but Democrats held on to the other constitutional offices they were predicted to retain.
Attorney General Maura Healey, Secretary of State William Galvin, State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, and Auditor Suzanne Bump all handily defeated their Republican and, in some cases, third-party challengers.
Healey defeated Bourne attorney, James McMahon. Galvin overtook security expert Anthony Amore and Green-Rainbow party candidate Juan Sanchez. Goldberg beat out Republican National Committeewoman and state Rep. Keiko Orrall and Green-Rainbow candidate Jamie Guerin. And in the race for Auditor, Bump beat out three opponents — Republican Helen Brady, Libertarian Daniel Fishman and Green-Rainbow candidate Edward Stamas.
House of Representatives
For the first time since 2010, Massachusetts congressional candidates will enter the House chamber as part of the majority party.
Democrats flipped enough Republican seats to win control of the House, but failed to take control of the Senate.
Each of the nine Democrat candidates for the House of Representatives — Rep. Katherine Clark (District 5), Rep. William Keating (District 9), Rep. Seth Moulton (District 6), Rep. Joe Kennedy III (District 4), Rep. Jim McGovern (District 2), Rep. Stephen Lynch (District 8), Rep. Richard Neal (District 1) and newcomers Lori Trahan and Ayanna Pressley — are Washington, D.C. bound.
Trahan defeated Republican opponent Rick Green in the 3rd Congressional District. Trahan will succeed outgoing Congresswoman Niki Tsongas who was first elected in 2007.
Pressley did not have a Republican opponent in the 7th Congressional District, clearing the way for her official rise from the Boston City Council to Congress where she will be the first African American woman to serve in the Massachusetts delegation. Pressley defeated incumbent Rep. Michael Capuano in a stunning upset in the September primary.
Kennedy, Neal and Lynch also did not have Republican opponents.
With Democrats in control of the House, Neal is poised to take control of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and McGovern could end up at the helm the influential Rules Committee.
Massachusetts voters shot down a measure that would have put in place mandated nurse-to-patient staffing ratios.
The defeat of the measure, known as Question One, keeps the current system in place, with hospitals allowed to determine nurses’ assignments.
The question divided the nursing community, with the Massachusetts Nurses Association in support of the measure and the American Nurses Association of Massachusetts against.
In the final weeks both sides littered the airwaves with advertisements. One factor deterring voters: cost. The Health Policy Commission, an independent state agency, estimated the cost of implementation at $697 million to $949 million annually. Proponents disputed the figures.
Voters did decide to uphold a 2016 state law prohibiting discrimination against transgender individuals in places of public accommodations like locker rooms and restaurants. The controversial law instantly drew calls for repeal after its passage, but the ballot measure to preserve it won overwhelmingly.
Ballot question two — the campaign finance initiative — largely flew below the radar, perhaps because it is not clear how much impact it will have.
The question would create a 15-person citizens commission to write a report on about money in politics and propose language for a new amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ensure that only people — not corporations or unions — could spend money on campaigns.
The question was billed as a way for Massachusetts to voters to go on the record opposing the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which eliminated barriers to political contributions by corporations.