Rausch defeats Dooley to take Norfolk, Middlesex and Worcester district in state senate

The Massachusetts Statehouse. (Photo by Ana Goni-Lessan/BU News Service)

By Molly Farrar
Boston University News Service

In one of the state’s most closely watched races, incumbent state Sen. Becca Rausch has defeated her Republican challenger, state Rep. Shawn Dooley, to win the Norfolk, Middlesex and Worcester District.

With 95% of the unofficial vote recorded, Rausch had earned 41,257 votes to Dooley’s 34,061. The Associated Press didn’t officially call the race until 12:14 p.m. Wednesday.

Rausch, of Needham, gets a third two-year Senate term in a district that was redrawn in such a way that some observers thought it would benefit Republicans.

“We’re going to keep doing what we’ve always done, which is to listen carefully and work hard and turn good ideas and good critiques into smart, savvy legislative solutions that make our communities more just, more equitable, and hopefully, make life a little bit less expensive for everybody,” Rausch said Wednesday morning.

Dooley, in a text message, said he was unavailable for comment.

The race was close for much of Tuesday night, as results from the 11 communities in the district trickled in. But Rausch’s hometown of Needham was key in helping her pull ahead, as she won 10,828 votes there to Dooley’s 4,110.

After winning Franklin and Needham, the two municipalities with the highest number of voters, Rausch said she was “feeling pretty good most of the evening.”

“It was a decisive victory, a hard-fought campaign,” she said Wednesday morning.

Dooley won in Bellingham, Norfolk, Plainville and Wrentham.

“I feel really honored and grateful to have had the time to get to know as many people as we have already and (I’m) really excited to continue getting to know folks — particularly in the four new communities,” Rausch said. 

Rausch focused her campaign on reproductive rights and COVID-19 pandemic relief while painting her opponent as a right-wing Trumpist. She focused on her track record — two years of bringing money back to the district in education and for small businesses.

“We have made tremendous strides on a number of things, including reproductive rights and health care, election reform, climate action, supporting small businesses, helping our local economies,” Rausch said. “Even with all of those successes, we know we have so much more to do.”

In an interview in September, Dooley said he considers himself a “centrist” who could bring balance to the state Senate. He previously ran against GOP State Party Chair Jim Lyons, losing by a small margin.

Rausch offered congratulations to her state Senate colleague Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, who defeated Republican Anthony Amore to become the next state auditor. DiZoglio marks a Democratic majority in the executive offices in the state, historically held by almost all women.

“(I’m) thrilled to hear that so many of us are coming back for another term to be able to keep digging and keep delivering, keep generating the policies and the investments that the people we represent want,” Rausch said.

Ahead of Tuesday, Democrats were optimistic Rausch could win her district, especially after she unseated longtime incumbent Republican Richard Ross in 2018, but acknowledged the race was a toss-up. One insider told the State House News Service that the contest was”probably the most competitive race statewide.”

Outgoing Gov. Charlie Baker deployed his popularity to try and get voters behind Dooley.

This story originally appeared in the MetroWest Daily News.

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