STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, APRIL 4, 2018 (State House News Service) – Just in time for the number crunching of budget season, voters in Attleboro sent retired high school math teacher Jim Hawkins to serve out the rest of this session in the House of Representatives.
The Democrat Hawkins bested Republican Julie Hall in the special election to succeed Paul Heroux, now the mayor of Attleboro, as the representative from the 2nd Bristol District. The Attleboro Sun Chronicle reported Hawkins took 3,927 votes to Hall’s 3,633.
The state Democratic Party celebrated the first-time candidate’s victory over Hall, an Attleboro city councilor and Air Force veteran who had the backing of Gov. Charlie Baker.
“Jim will always be an independent voice for Attleboro and ran on the key issues facing working families in the community including increasing funding for our public schools, passing Paid Family and Medical Leave, and investing in treatment and education programs to combat the opioid epidemic,” Democratic Party Chairman Gus Bickford said in a statement.
The seat seemed winnable for Republicans, who have a number of legislative incumbents representing nearby districts, including Rep. Elizabeth Poirier of North Attleboro, Steve Howitt of Seekonk, Jay Barrows of Mansfield, Shaunna O’Connell of Taunton, Shawn Dooley of Norfolk and Sen. Richard Ross of Wrentham.
Heroux, a Democrat, held the seat for five years, and after winning his race for mayor against the Republican incumbent in November said he’d be surprised if there was a Democrat in the city who could beat Hall.
Hawkins will enter the House with less than four months of formal business remaining.
Also Tuesday, Rep. Nick Collins cruised to an uncontested primary win in the special election to takeover for Linda Forry in the Massachusetts Senate. The Boston elections division said about 3.7 percent of the registered voters in the Senate district cast a ballot Tuesday.
The elections come during a period of near-constant turnover on Beacon Hill. The House mourned the deaths this session of Reps. Gailanne Cariddi and Peter Kocot, and bid farewell to departed Reps. Heroux, Brian Dempsey and Brendan Crighton. If he is elected to the Senate next month, as is widely expected, Collins will also abandon the House this session. The Senate has already shed five members this session.
On the heels of Hawkins’ Tuesday election, Rep. James Cantwell of Marshfield plans to give farewell remarks to the House on Thursday before he resigns to take a job with U.S. Sen. Edward Markey. And Sen. Eileen Donoghue plans to resign after she was selected last week as Lowell’s next city manager, becoming the sixth senator to depart this session.
“There certainly is a wave of new people” Sen. Paul Feeney, who was elected to the Senate in a special election himself, told the Sun Chronicle at Hawkins’ victory party Tuesday.