Rausch gets challenge from Dooley for Norfolk, Worcester and Middlesex Senate seat

By Nidavirani (Own work), CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

By Molly Farrar

Boston University Statehouse Program

State Sen. Becca Rausch, D-Needham, is looking to defend her seat in the Norfolk, Worcester and Middlesex District against state Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Wrentham. Rausch says her track record speaks volumes, while Dooley says his centrist views can bring balance to the chamber.

With the redrawing of the district lines last year as a result of the 2020 Census, the district no longer includes Attleboro, Natick, North Attleborough, Wayland or Wellesley. 

The new district now includes Bellingham, Dover, Franklin, Medfield, Milford, Millis, Needham, Norfolk, Plainville, Sherborn and Wrentham. Both candidates were unchallenged in their respective primaries and will face off on Nov. 8 in the general election.

Shawn Dooley

Dooley Courtesy Photo from “Milford Daily News”


Residence: Wrentham

Age: 56

Employment: State representative, on-call firefighter

Endorsements: Milford Police Union, National Federation of Independent Business

Why are you running?

Dooley is currently a state representative in the 9th Norfolk District, which includes Plainville, Walpole, Norfolk, Millis, Medfield and Wrentham. He was elected during a special election in 2014. Before serving at the state level, he spent four years as chair of the Norfolk School Committee and was town clerk in Medfield.

Dooley, who identifies as a centrist, said he can help bring balance to the Senate, where 37 of 40 legislators are Democrats.

“Regardless of the party, that’s not good. You need to have some balance,” he said. “You need to have additional voices in there.”

Dooley, a father of four, challenged incumbent Jim Lyons for chairmanship of the Massachusetts Republican Party, losing by a slim margin. He said he wanted to turn the party away from Lyons’ “Trumpist” rhetoric.

“It’s gotten to this point where it is pandering to this far-right narrative,” Dooley said. “I don’t think that’s a winning narrative in Massachusetts.”

MassGOP focuses on national issues, and doesn’t appeal to the Massachusetts electorate, Dooley said. A more balanced Senate will help offset the “corrupt” Legislature.

“One of the things we’re losing in the country is the ability to have discourse and have debate and have discussion,” he said. “If we’re able to do that, bring different opinions and different ideas to the table, it leads to creating better laws and better governance.”

What issues face your district and how will you tackle them? 

Inflation is one of the biggest issues for Massachusetts residents, Dooley said. Rising energy costs and real estate prices have made many communities in the district unaffordable for working-class people, whom Dooley said are being forced to move westward.

“The bigger picture is that we need to make Massachusetts affordable,” he said. “It’s becoming this place where only the wealthy can survive and thrive.”

Rising energy costs, Dooley said, are due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and could be lessened by a turn to renewable energy. If elected, Dooley hopes to use some of the most recent fiscal year’s excess tax revenue to ensure that Massachusetts could absorb any upticks from energy providers. 

“If they’re going to be major energy providers in Massachusetts,” he said, “then they need to be true partners, not just when it’s in their best interest.”

Dooley opposes Question 1, the so-called Fair Share Amendment, also known as the millionaire’s tax. The amendment, which is on the November ballot, would add a 4% surtax on every dollar earned above $1 million. The state would use the additional revenue for transportation upgrades and public education throughout the state. 

Dooley believes the amendment would push some businesses, particularly smaller ones, out of the state. 

“Especially given the fact that we have billions and billions in surplus, I think it’s a very dangerous road to go down,” he said.

Becca Rausch


Rausch Courtesy Photo from “Milford Daily News”

Residence: Needham

Age: 43

Employment: attorney, state senator

Endorsements: Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood, numerous teachers and climate organizations.

Why are you running?

Rausch, just the second Democrat to hold her current seat, says she values “transparency, honesty and accountability.” The mother of two was elected in 2018 and is running for her third term.

While Rausch finishes her term representing the current district, she said her office has already reached out to new towns, including Bellingham and Milford.

“I continue to be who I am,” she said. “I continue to do the work that I have always done, that my track record shows I’m in fact quite successful at delivering.”

Rausch said she wants to continue her work in passing climate legislation, protecting reproductive rights and “crafting a plan to put hundreds of dollars back into taxpayers’ pockets.”

“I’m very proud to be a leading champion of protecting and advancing reproductive health care access and equity here in Massachusetts,” she said.

What issues face your district and how will you tackle them? 

The COVID-19 pandemic affected many towns economically, and is still being felt by small businesses in the district. Rausch said her office has been a guide for many of those who struggled with government entities and small business loans through the peak of the pandemic.

“We have helped well over 1,000 constituents with a whole range of different issues, everything from getting health insurance to unemployment support to, in fact, passing legislation to help people reenter the workforce, especially supporting women reentering the workforce,” she said.

Rausch’s main goals include protecting reproductive rights and the climate at the local level, while continuing to bring state funding to the district. Last year, she said she brought back more than $25 million for priority projects.

“I am running to continue putting my proven leadership and track record of real results and delivering real results to … make life a little bit easier, a little bit fairer, a little bit more equitable and, hopefully, a little bit less expensive,” she said.

Rausch said she also hopes to improve educational access to all residents, building upon her collaboration with Wrentham school officials to make tuition-free kindergarten possible and the passing of the Student Opportunity Act, which looks to combat disparities in public education throughout the state.

“I’m running to keep doing that,” Rausch said. “People are also really focused on quality education. One of the cornerstones of our communities is a quality education for all our kids regardless of ZIP code.”

This story originally appeared in Milford Daily News.

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