Rep. Dooley will seek to reclaim Senate seat for GOP

By Matt Murphy – State House News Service

Republican Rep. Shawn Dooley has decided to challenge Democrat Sen. Becca Rausch in a district that was once favorable territory west of Boston for Republicans, who are holding on to a shrinking minority on Beacon Hill.

Dooley, a former town clerk in Norfolk, joined the House in 2014 after winning a special election, and went on to get elected four more times. In challenging Rausch, he will be taking on an incumbent who has been a vocal critic of Gov. Charlie Baker's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and someone who has favored government interventions like mask mandates to control the pandemic.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity - but it is going to be a huge challenge and I will need your help. It will be a grassroots campaign, going door to door - person to person - talking to folks about a common sense, people focused approach to government," Dooley said in a statement posted Thursday on social media.

Rausch has represented the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District since 2019, but the boundaries of the district will change slightly in 2022 after redistricting and the district will include the towns of Bellingham, Dover, Franklin, Medfield, Milford, Millis, Needham, Norfolk, Plainville, Sherborn, and Wrentham.

Before Rausch, who lives in Needham, the region was represented by Republicans Richard Ross and Scott Brown, both of Wrentham. Rausch edged Ross to win the seat in 2018 and then beat Republican Matthew Kelly in 2020.

Dooley described himself as "nervous and excited" by the prospects of the campaign.

"Over the past few years, we have all seen how much more polarized our communities have become - and that needs to change if we are going to continue to grow and succeed. Too many politicians on both sides are focused on pandering to the extremes or placating special interests. The theme of my campaign is simple: People Not Politics," Dooley said.

In addition to his legislative work, Dooley is an on-call firefighter and emergency medical technician and served as both Norfolk town clerk and chair of the school committee. He has also operated a small construction company and worked as a financial consultant and planner. In the House, he has been a champion for reforming the state's estate tax.

In 2020, Dooley won one of 80 seats on the Republican State Committee and has been critical at times of the direction of the Republican Party and its chairman Jim Lyons. Dooley challenged Lyons for the party chairmanship in 2021, but came up short.

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