Barney Frank and Mass. Dems regain footing

Barney Frank, who defeated challenger Sean Bielat, used his speech to lash out at Republicans over negative campaigning.

Josh Reynolds/AP
US Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., addresses supporters party in Newton, Mass on Nov. 2 after winning re-election in the 4th Congressional District. Frank faced Republican Sean Bielat in Tuesday’s general election.

The euphoria Massachusetts Republicans felt in January over the election of Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate quickly dissipated on Tuesday, as Democrats rebounded with a sweep of statewide and congressional races.

Boosted by energetic get-out-the vote efforts in traditional Democratic strongholds across the state, voters returned Gov. Deval Patrick to office for a second term and elected Democrats to the constitutional offices of treasurer and auditor, where there were no incumbents on the ballot.

In the aftermath of Brown's upset win to capture the Senate seat held for decades by the late Edward Kennedy, the GOP had high hopes of cracking the state's all-Democratic U.S. House delegation, but that was also not meant to be Tuesday.

Even as Republicans nationally seized control of the U.S. House, Democrats held on to all 10 seats in the Bay State. The closest race came in the 10th Congressional District, stretching from Quincy to Cape Cod, where Democrat William Keating held off state Rep. Jeffrey Perry in the race to succeed retiring Rep. William Delahunt.

"I think that we learned our lessons in January," said John Walsh, chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party on Tuesday. "We went to school on what we did wrong."

Walsh said the party returned to a grassroots approach, going door to door and talking face to face with voters.

Attorney General Martha Coakley, whose upset loss to Brown energized Republicans nationally, gained a measure of personal redemption with a decisive re-election win. Coakley defeated Republican James McKenna, an attorney and former prosecutor who earned a spot on the general election ballot with a successful write-in campaign in the September primary.

In the race to succeed Treasurer Timothy Cahill, who ran for governor as an independent, Newton businessman and former Democratic National Committee chairman Steve Grossman defeated state Rep. Karyn Polito, a Republican from Shrewsbury.

"There is no time to waste, it's time to roll up our sleeves," Grossman said. "The voters gave me a wonderful vote of confidence and now it's time to go to work and earn their confidence every day for the next four years," he said.

There was one silver lining for Massachusetts Republicans: it appeared the party had picked up as many as 16 seats in the state House of Representatives, nearly doubling the GOP contingent in the Democratic-dominated chamber.

The closest of the statewide races was for auditor, the office being vacated by Joseph DeNucci after 24 years.

Suzanne Bump, a former Democratic state representative and former labor secretary in the Patrick administration, outlasted Republican Mary Connaughton, a former member of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board. Green-Rainbow candidate Nathanael Fortune was also on the ballot.

Another Democrat, Secretary of State William Galvin, won a fifth term by defeating Republican William Campbell and unenrolled candidate James Henderson. Galvin, first elected to the post in 1994, will become the state's longest-serving constitutional officer when DeNucci leaves office in January.

While many victorious Democrats struck a conciliatory note, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, who defeated challenger Sean Bielat, used his speech to lash out at Republicans over negative campaigning.

"There was another issue here, that was the deteriorated nature of this campaign and at least in Massachusetts we have repudiated unreasoning anger, vituperation, anonymous smears," he said.

"The collective campaigns that were run by most Republicans were beneath the dignity of a democracy," said Frank, who under the new Republican leadership will lose his chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee.

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