Top Ten stories of 2018: Democratic wave largely bypassed local area

Democrats increased their numbers in the U.S. House of Representatives in the November election by 40 members in a so-called Blue Wave that largely skipped the local area.

It was the largest Democratic gain since the post-Watergate election of 1974. Analysts claim it was largely due to dissatisfaction with President Donald Trump.

Republicans, however, were able to increase their grip on the Senate.

While Democrats and Republicans were battling it out in fierce contests for control of Washington and statehouses, incumbents in Massachusetts and Attleboro-area contests coasted past token opposition.

The lack of competitive races gave voters little to get excited about, but voter turnout was still heavy throughout the state.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker easily won a second term, 66-33 percent over Democrat Jay Gonzalez.

Other statewide officeholders such as Attorney General Maura Healey won by similar landslide margins.

Locally, U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, D-Brookline, spent most of his time campaigning for other candidates as he had no opponent, leaving local voters out of the fray of the national struggle over House control.

State Reps. Betty Poirier, R-North Attleboro, Jay Barrows, R-Mansfield, and Steven Howitt, R-Seekonk, all ran unopposed.

State Sen. Paul Feeney, D-Foxboro, beat Republican Jacob Ventura and state Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, beat Brian Hamlin, D-Plainville. Both contests were rematches with the same results.

There was one sign of change locally as Democrat Becca Rausch of Needham defeated longtime state Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham.

Rausch is one of several new women elected to the state Legislature, bringing female representation up to record levels, but still well behind equal representation with men.

There are now 57 women in the Legislature, taking up 28 percent of the 200 seats.

Massachusetts also elected three women to the U.S. House, the most ever for the Bay State.

The march toward women candidates was not universal, however.

State Rep. Jim Hawkins, D-Attleboro, was able to survive a challenge by former City Councilor Julie Hall, beating her for the second time this year.

Perhaps the biggest election news in Attleboro, however, was the trouble the city had counting votes.

Attleboro did not complete the task until 1:30 a.m. on election night, the latest of any city or town in the area.

Election officials said the problem was Attleboro was holding two elections at once, the regular state and congressional election along with a special election for city council.

Because the two elections with two ballots caused so much work for poll workers, they did not have time to insert absentee and early voting ballots into machines during the day, officials said.

Instead, they inserted them after polls closed at 8 p.m. and that delayed the final count, they said.

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