Hicks, a “DSA comrade,” will be the first socialist to hold office in Boston in the modern political era.
No wave, but a rising tide
The Massachusetts left had big aspirations rolling into Election Day in Boston and its neighboring communities. And again, that organizing led to major electoral gains.
Sights were set highest in Somerville, where socialists had an opportunity to take control of the City Council. That effort failed, but not before doubling the number of socialists on the council.
In all, Boston Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) endorsed seven candidates in Somerville: two incumbents and five challengers. Willie Burnley Jr. and Charlotte Kelly won at-large seats, while JT Scott won in Ward 2 and Ben Ewen-Campen won in Ward 3. Tessa Bridge (Ward 5), Becca Miller (Ward 7), and Eve Seitchik (at-large) came up short.
“One thing that should give socialist electoral organizers hope: every cycle our movement gets stronger, smarter, bigger,” Seitchik tweeted.
In Boston, the DSA sent one of their own to City Hall. Kendra Hicks represented one of the left’s biggest victories Tuesday—in Mass or anywhere else. Hicks, a “DSA comrade,” will be the first socialist to hold office in Boston in the modern political era after defeating Mary Tamer by a 12-point margin in the District 6 City Council race.
“We have a clear mandate #D6 and we’re going to work together to get it done. solidarity forever. I’ll see you at City Hall,” Hicks tweeted late Tuesday.
Our Revolution Medford, a local branch of the political group launched by Bernie Sanders after his 2016 presidential bid, endorsed a slate of left-wing candidates with hopes of winning a majority on the Medford City Council. They succeeded. Incumbent members Zac Bears (also endorsed by DSA) and Nicole Morell were both reelected, while newcomers Kit Collins and Justin Tseng finished in the top seven to win seats. Abigail Dickson finished eighth.
The candidates ran together on a progressive “Medford People’s Platform.”
“City government that enables everyone to thrive and take pride in calling Medford home must acknowledge the disproportionate impact of racial capitalism and economic injustice, especially on Black, Indigenous, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Latinx, disabled, low-income, immigrant, and LGBTQIA+ communities, among others,” the platform states.
The only setback came in Cambridge, where DSA-backed Councilor Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler lost his seat.
The New England Outliers
On a night where much of the country shifted votes to the right, Massachusetts and its neighbors to the north and south continued to elect progressives and reject Republicans.
In addition to Michelle Wu’s victory and a string of left-wing wins across Greater Boston, liberal incumbents fended off conservative challenges in some closely watched municipal races.
Republicans controlled the mayorship of New Hampshire’s largest city for more than a decade before Joyce Craig unseated Ted Gatsas in 2017. With conservative momentum brewing nationally, Republicans saw Manchester’s top office as a potential top target in New England’s only true battleground state. While Republican challenger Victoria Sullivan performed better than she did in her failed 2019 bid, Craig finished with the same 53% to 47% vote margin that first landed her in office.
In the more sparse Laconia, where Donald Trump beat Joe Biden by six points in 2020, incumbent Democrat Andrew Hosmer handily defeated a right-wing challenger.
To the south, the Republican war on critical race theory came to Guilford, Connecticut, where a slate of conservative candidates sought to overtake the local school board. GOP attacks on school curriculum appeared to buoy Republicans in much of the country, but liberals and progressives unified to crush the Guilford insurgency.
Back in Mass, a short list of Republican mayors got even smaller.
In Westfield, GOP incumbent Mayor Donald Humason lost to Michael McCabe. (To pour more salt on the wound, Republicans lost the state Senate seat Humason vacated last year in a special election.) GOP state Rep. James Kelcourse also failed his bid for Amesbury’s mayorship.
A super PAC linked to Gov. Charlie Baker had mixed results as four of its backed candidates, including two incumbents, went down Tuesday night.
Maine votes to preserve forests, roils Mass energy plans
North of the border, Maine voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed 145-mile transmission corridor which sought to supply hydroelectric power to Mass from Quebec.
In 2016, Massachusetts committed to bringing renewable energy to the Commonwealth. After a failed bid to connect the power through New Hampshire, they arrived at a $1 billion project with Central Maine Power (CMP) called the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC). Maine’s government got behind the corridor in 2019.
Mass Gov. Baker expressed support for the NECEC, and warned Mainers against rejecting the project.
“Truly electrifying big pieces of what is currently a fossil fuel-based economy isn’t going to work if people aren’t willing to accept transmission capacity to make that happen. You can’t get from here to there without transmission capacity,” Baker said last week. “And I think that’s the reason why [former Maine Gov.] Paul LePage and [Maine Gov.] Janet Mills—two people who don’t agree on very much—absolutely agree that this project should move forward.”
But opposition to the NECEC was bipartisan too.
Progressives and rural conservatives joined to spearhead the opposition, getting a question on the November ballot to ban the NECEC and other similar future projects unless they garner super-majority support in the Maine legislature.
While proponents argued that the corridor was key to moving toward cleaner energy, the Yes campaign (to ban NECEC) had the backing of major environmental groups. They argued the project would leave an industrial scar on Maine’s largely preserved forestlands.
“The CMP corridor would clear a path through Canadian and Maine forests, permanently altering what is considered to be one of the largest contiguous tracts of temperate forest in the world,” Maine Youth for Climate Justice said in a statement opposing the project. The unlikely coalition was also largely funded by natural gas companies.
Despite overwhelming institutional and financial support (opposition to the ballot measure outspent proponents 4-1) for the corridor, Maine voters passed the initiative by an 18-point margin.
As the dust settled from the resounding result, much remained in question. While Mass officials were largely mum on the vote, CMP’s parent company Avangrid wasted no time filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the vote.