To quote the late, great Yogi Berra: “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”
In a few months parts of this area will see rematches for various state representative and state senate seats they decided just — well, a few months ago. While there may be some additions and subtractions, at least two of the races will probably be near-reruns of the election choices voters had back in November.
However, the circumstances and logistics of this upcoming election may be quite different from the previous one. And that allows us columnists and local political junkies to ruminate on just how it all may play out.
The Bristol and Norfolk senate district includes all or parts of Attleboro, Foxboro, Mansfield, Medfield, Norton, Rehoboth, Seekonk, Sharon and Walpole. Democratic incumbent Senator Paul Feeney will likely be squaring off against former legislative House aide Jacob Ventura, a Republican who lost to Feeney in a three-way battle last November.
Democrat Jim Hawkins was elected to the vacant House seat in the 2nd Bristol District (most of Attleboro) this past fall, narrowly defeating Attleboro City Councilor and Republican Julie Hall. Hall has already announced she will once again seek the Republican nomination, and Hawkins will also face an apparent primary challenge from fellow Democrat and City Councilor Sara Lynn Reynolds.
That is all good news for local citizens. Far too often these offices see no races, or merely token opposition. To see so many experienced individuals stepping up to offer their services is refreshing and a cause for optimism.
Barring the addition of an independent candidate, the senate race will become a head-to-head battle between incumbent Feeney and challenger Ventura. Feeney won with 47% of the vote last time, with Ventura getting 43%. Independent Joe Shortsleeve garnered 9%, and where those voters now go will ultimately decide the result.
While both ran active campaigns, Ventura was by far the most aggressive candidate last time in terms of attacking his opponent. It will be interesting to see how the strategies of both change, if indeed they do. Last time was a special election, so they had the stage to themselves. It will be harder for each to gather as much attention as just part of the general election.
In the Attleboro House race, candidates will also find themselves in an entirely different situation. The contest won by Hawkins was on the same ballot as the controversial school override. That greatly increased turnout, and it is highly unlikely as many will vote again in November.
That means different people will be deciding who is Attleboro’s representative. Figuring out the demographics of who will still come out to vote — and how to get the people who favor them to do likewise — will be the big challenge for each side. Some believe Hawkins was helped by the large pro-override turnout, and without that Hall may have the edge. That is, of course, assuming they both wind up in the general election.
So while at first glance it may look like boring contests with the same candidates running for the same seats — that’s not the case.
With all due respect to Yogi, of course.