GOP again shows little sign of contesting for Berkshire House, Senate posts
PITTSFIELD — Although there are potential Republican candidates said to be considering a run for the Legislature from Berkshire County, thus far none have declared — following two state elections in which Democratic office-holders strolled unchallenged to new terms.
Beyond an extended dearth of GOP candidates for a decade, the party's organization in Berkshire County is maintaining anything but a high profile. Local party officials proved difficult to reach for comment for an article on the upcoming fall elections.
Charlie Baker boosted the minority Massachusetts party's status by winning the governorship in 2014, but the Legislature remains firmly under the control of Democrats in what is possibly the bluest state in the nation. And nowhere is that dominance more pronounced than in Berkshire County
In 2014 and 2012, all four of the county's House incumbents and state Sen. Ben Downing, of Pittsfield — Democrats all — were re-elected without Republican opposition.
Over the past decade, what was once a competitive region has become an electoral wasteland for Republicans.
The Eagle was unable over the past week to contact a local party spokesmen. James Bronson, who has served as the county Republican Association chairman, referred a request for comment to district Republican State Committee member and a former House candidate, Michael Case of Washington, who could not be reached.
The GOP's state party website has a list of local city or town contacts at www.massgop.com/local. However, most of those in Berkshire County refer to the county party website, at www.berkshiregop.com, which does not list contact names. Some town websites say "coming soon."
The GOP fielded only a scattering of candidates over the past decade in local legislative races, all of them unsuccessful in runs for the Senate or one of the four Berkshire House seats.
This includes none in 2014, none in 2012; Michael Case of Washington in the 2nd House district in 2010; none in 2008, and Matthew Kinnaman of Lee in the Senate district in 2006.
In 2004, the Republicans mounted a robust challenge in the local state elections, with Dawn Taylor Thompson of Richmond running for the Senate seat; Jay Lukkaria of Adams in the 1st Berkshire House district; Richard Stockman of Pittsfield in the 2nd House district, and James Bashour of Great Barrington in the 4th Berkshire House district.
All were defeated by Democrats.
This year, candidates have until May 3 to submit nomination papers for legislative offices.
On the Democratic side, 1st District Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, 2nd District Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, and 4th District Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, thus far face no Republican opposition.
3rd District Rep. Trisha Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, faces a Democratic primary challenge from Michael Bloomberg of Holmes Road, and City Councilor Christopher Connell is running for the seat as an independent.
In the Senate race to replace Downing, who is not seeking re-election, Adam Hinds, director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, and attorney Andrea Harrington of Richmond are both seeking the Democratic nomination.
Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.
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