Massachusetts Republicans take victory lap after senate win in Central Mass.

While Republicans nationally spent Wednesday dissecting what went wrong with their local election efforts, the MassGOP was quick to take a small but well earned victory lap.

On Tuesday, State Rep. Peter Durant won the special election for the seat vacated by former state Sen. Anne Gobi and managed to flip the Worcester-Hampshire district from blue to red, increasing the number of Republicans in the Bay State’s Democrat-dominated senate from three to four.

“I am honored by the overwhelming support we received from so many people. This is a great win for the taxpayers of Massachusetts. I am going to work around the clock to make a positive difference and be their common sense voice in the Senate,” Durant said in a statement shared by the state party.

Durant won after securing 11,905 votes to state Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik’s 10,067. His victory stands out after an election night that generally did not go well for conservatives in other states — Republicans lost the state house in Virginia, failed to take the governor’s office in Kentucky, and failed to stop an abortion access measure from being added to Ohio’s state constitution — but it also represents a successful test of the MassGOP’s new chairwoman and a repudiation of the previous chairman’s leadership.

Massachusetts Republicans did not do well in last November’s elections, and former Chairman Jim Lyons lost his job soon after. Meanwhile, Durant’s victory in Worcester is in keeping with the plans laid out by MassGOP Chairwoman Amy Carnevale when she was running in the party’s January election.

Carnevale said then, and has maintained in the months, that she would look to avoid the hot-button issues which have taken over national conservative politics, like abortion or the 2020 election results, and focus on finding qualified Republican candidates to offer voters as a competing voice on local concerns in deep-blue Massachusetts.

The results, the chairwoman says, speak for themselves.

“Representative Peter Durant’s win last night in the Worcester-Hampshire district signals a comeback for the MassGOP, demonstrating that Republicans can win in Massachusetts with strong candidates who reflect the priorities of their districts. This marks a significant step forward for the Massachusetts Republican Party,” Carnevale said.

Durant won his October primary with a campaign focused on how immigration issues are directly impacting the Commonwealth — at times blasting the Healey Administration for their handling of an “out-of-hand” shelter crisis — and the concerns of gun owners who are worried about firearms legislation under consideration by the Legislature.

He again hammered on those issues during his general election campaign, eventually calling for the repeal of the state’s right to shelter law.

Durant will now join the small number of Republicans serving in the upper chamber’s “minority crescent.” Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr congratulated Durant on his hard won victory and welcomed his voice.

“Tonight, the voters of Central Massachusetts made their voices heard in the special election for the Worcester and Hampshire District,” he said. “As we take on economic headwinds, driven by the rising cost of living, it is crucial to have a productive exchange of ideas in the legislature. Peter will bring an important perspective to the chamber as we seek to make Massachusetts safer, more competitive, more affordable, and more prosperous.”

According to Senate President Karen Spilka, Durant should be “proud of the campaign he ran which presented a positive vision for our Commonwealth.”

“The Senate will continue its work towards making the Commonwealth more affordable and equitable, and I hope Senator-elect Durant will join our efforts,” she said in a statement.

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