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Briefings: 2024 Legislative Races Appear Set with Few Real Surprises…

Massachusetts State House

Few new faces from the 413 are likely at Beacon Hill next year. (WMP&I)

When the office of Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin completes the primary ballot for September, there should be few surprises in the 413. Despite some noises here and there, there were few if any last-minute entries that could upend the region’s delegation to Boston. In one case, there was a dearth of candidacies for an open seat.

There will be five house races and three senate races with contests that affect at least part of the four Western counties of Massachusetts. Of those, only two races, both in the House, have no incumbent, but one open race has one candidate. The remainder are primary or general election challenges to sitting legislators. However, victory could be a tall order in many of those races.

On Wednesday, the State House News Service reported out candidates who had made the ballot subject to objections, withdrawals or other changes that could alter the races in September and November.

For example, Becket Senator Paul Mark, a Democrat, appears set to face David Rosa, a Republican. Mark’s Berkshire, Hampden, Franklin & Hampshire Senate district is wildly Democratic. Rosa, who has not filed with the Office of Campaign & Political Finance yet, faces very long odds.

A mirror of this is Sutton Republican Senator Ryan Fattman’s challenge from Monson Democrat Anthony Allard, who will be on the ballot. While Allard has at least created a campaign committee, Fattman’s 2014 victory solidified the sharp shift to the right his district, now the Worcester and Hampden, has undergone.

Susannah Whipps

Crack that rematch, Whipps! (via

One general election race with a different flavor is Athol Republican Jeffrey Raymond challenging unenrolled 2nd Franklin Rep Susannah Whipps also of Athol. Formerly a Republican, Whipps has withstood challenges from Democrats. It is possible a stabilized state GOP will press to retake this seat. It is perhaps the party’s only opportunity to stake a claim in the 413. Still, Republicans could discovery felling Whipps as difficult as Dems have found it to be. Redistricting pushed her seat west into reliably blue Greenfield and now straddles the Franklin-Worcester county line. Indeed, Raymond ran against Whipps in 2022 and lost.

The general election race worth watching is in the 4th Hampden House district. The district includes Southampton and much of Westfield. Westfield Ward 3 City Councilor Bridget Matthews-Kane, a Democrat, is challenging incumbent Republican Rep Kelly Pease. Redistricting altered the 4th Hampden since Pease first won it in 2020. Yet, the changes may not have ultimately changed the district’s tossup nature. Pease has incumbency, but Matthews-Kane has resources and a base eager to retake the seat.

Aside from the 4th Hampden, the primary contests may host the most action. With William “Smitty” Pignatelli exiting the 3rd Berkshire, a three-person race has formed in the Democratic primary. Great Barrington Select Board member Leigh Davis and Stockbridge Select Board members Jamie Minacci and Patrick White are competing in the primary. The winner is likely to become the next rep. Nevertheless, the nominee will face unenrolled candidate Marybeth Mitts in the general election.

Moving east, Johnnie McKnight had previously declared his challenge to incumbent Springfield State Rep Bud Williams. The 11th Hampden district, which spirals out from the center of the city, has changed in redistricting, which present an opportunity for McKnight. He was not even in Williams’s district before the maps changes after the 2020 census. On the other hand, Williams has held elected office in Springfield for 30 years and enjoys a massive cash advantage.

Gomez Brown

The Gomez-Brown matchup may reverberate well beyond the primary itself. (created with handout photos)

Another significant primary will be Springfield Ward 4 Councilor Malo Brown’s challenge to Springfield Senator Adam Gomez. The Hampden Senate District includes much of Springfield and part of southern Chicopee. At this stage, the significance of the race may be less in the outcome than the underlying politics. Like Williams, Gomez enjoys a large cash and institutional advantage over his opponent. Yet, Brown is also an aide to Williams. The mere fact that this race is happening could test the political détentes in the city.

The last race in the region is the open 2nd Hampshire, which includes Easthampton, Hadley, South Hadley and part of Granby. Easthampton Rep Daniel Carey is retiring to run for Hampshire Clerk of Courts. However, the only candidate to submit signatures to the Secretary’s office for the seat is Easthampton City Council President Homar Gomez. Barring unforeseen circumstances, he will be in Carey’s seat this time next year.