Former Attorney General Maura Healey became a history-maker twice over on Tuesday, Nov. 8 — she was not only the first woman to be elected governor of Massachusetts, she was also the only openly gay person ever elected to the Corner Office.
While former state Rep. Geoff Diehl carried his hometown unofficially by a close 129 votes (3,159 for him and running mate Leah Cole Allen to 2.969 for Healey and her running mate, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll), the Healey/Driscoll ticket won by a 63.2 percent to 35.2 percent margin over Diehl.
In Hanson, 503 votes separated Diehl/Allen’s 2,704 votes from Healey/Driscoll’s 2,201. There were 5,040 votes cast in the town of 8,117 eligible voters — 62.1 percent of those eligible.
In fact, the race had been called only minutes after the polls closed, a fact that WBZ News reported, angered the Diehl campaign. But by the end of the evening Diehl did concede his loss.
“The people of the Commonwealth have spoken,” Diehl said before calling Healey to concede. “I respect their choice, and I ask everyone who supported me and Leah to give [Healey] the same opportunity for success as I would have asked if the shoe had been on the other foot.”
He said he was proud of the race he and Allen had run, highlighting issues important for people across the state.
“Tonight, I want to say something to every little girl and every young LGBTQ person out there,” Healey said in her Copley Plaza victory speech. “I hope tonight shows you that you can be whatever, whoever you want to be. Nothing and no one can ever get in your way, except your own imagination, and that’s not gonna happen.”
In Hanson, 560 people early voted in-person, with more than 1,500 mail-in ballots, which were being run through the tabulation machines, but not counted Tuesday morning, according to Town Clerk Elizabeth Sloan.
“We had more mail-ins this time,” she said. “Now they know that we get it [the ballot] and they actually get taken care of.”
Despite Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s prediction of a low-turnout, Sloan said she has seen and expected to continue seeing a higher-than usual turnout for a midterm election. With almost 2,000 early votes among the 8,000 or so voters in town, Hanson had already hit 20 percent turnout before the polls opened Tuesday.
In Whitman, Town Clerk Dawn Varley said there were 2,329 early votes cast, and 46 absentee ballots, compared with 985 in 2018, the last midterm election. Whitman ended up with 55.37 percent of the towns 11,350 eligible voters casting ballots in some way. There were 6,284 votes cast Tuesday in Whitman.
So who did everyone think was going to end up in the winner’s circle as the day began? Everyone is optimistic on Election Day morning.
“I think it’s a win,” Diehl said of his chances to WCVB Channel 5 Tuesday morning, after casting his own ballot at Whitman Town Hall. “I think it’s going to be a very close race, but from what I’ve seen with the trends with early voting vs what we’ve seen with our enthusiasm, I think we have a great shot at this.”
Outside Town Hall, Diehl supporter Dan Cullity agreed.
“Hopefully, we sweep the state,” Cullity said. “People are fed up. … High prices, stupid green initiatives that ain’t gonna work — no infrastructure for it, there’s no money for it — stuff like that.”
But in Hanson, where former Select Board member Bruce Young was among the Diehl sign-holders, a 40 percent share of the vote was more expected. Young noted that Republicans in Massachusetts have not been able to break that barrier since 1948.
Diehl supporter Gwen Hunt said she was trying to be hopeful.
Democratic candidate Maura Healey, meanwhile voted by mail, according to WCVB.
“I have to stay positive,” she said, noting she was even more hopeful that challenger Kenneth Sweezy would best incumbent state Rep. Josh Cutler, D-Duxbury.
Her supporters locally expressed confidence in the chances for state Democrats, if they were casting a wary eye on national races.
“I think, statewide the Democrats are going to do quite well,” Whitman Democratic Chair Michael Hayes said as he held signs along South Avenue Tuesday morning. “Obviously, nationally, we’ll have to wait and see about that. There’s concerns about what’s going to happen with Congress, but it is what it is.”
Hayes said he hopes women voters turned out in greater numbers after the Supreme Court Decision overturning Roe V Wade.
“They have to be angry,” he said.
“I hope people get out,” agreed Whitman Finance Committee member Rosemary Connolly. “I hope they’re aware of what’s at stake and really exercise their right to vote and don’t take it for granted — even on the local level, it’s important.”
Hanson Select Board member Joe Weeks said he will be keeping his eye on the governor’s race, meanwhile.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see where Massachusetts ends up falling,” he said. “Are we going to stick Republican or are we going to go back to being Democratic [in the corner office].”
He said he agrees with polls that Healey will win, but said it could be “a heck of a lot closer” than the polls are saying.
“It’s the most exciting day of the year as far as I’m concerned,” Weeks said as he headed into Hanson Middle School to vote. “We’ll have to see what happens. … You really can’t trust the polls, so it’s difficult.”
Hanson Democratic Committee member Kathleen DiPasqua-Egan said she was especially hopeful that state Sen. Mike Brady, D-Brockton wins re-election as well as that Healey takes the governor’s office.
She was less hopeful for national Democrats’ chances.
“I’m happy to see what a Democrat could do in the governor’s office,” she said. “I hope I see that the things I care about that haven’t been done under the Republican governors will be done.”
She granted that, in either case, there could be disappointment ahead, but said taking a chance with a Democrat was a better decision than voting for Republicans that are 2020 election deniers.
“I don’t want Republicans in who feel that way — who actually supported Trump all the way along and maybe now they don’t, but it’s kind of too little too late,” she said. “I think Maura Healey deserves a chance to prove what she can do.”
There was some ticket-splitting evident, as well as incumbent Democrat William F. Galvin won the majority of Whitman votes at 3,377 to Rayla Campbell’s 2,684.
State Rep. Josh Cutler fell short in Hanson with 1,568 votes to Republican challenger Kenneth Sweezey’s 1,697, but Cutler was ultimately re-elected with 57.2 percent of the vote to Sweezey’s 42.8. Running unopposed state Rep. Alyson Sullivan, R-Abington cruised to re-election, receiving 4,142 votes in Whitman.
On the ballot questions:
Question 1, regarding the constitutional amendment for an additional tax on incomes over $1 million to fund schools and transportation was rejected in Hanson 3,040 to 1,902 as well as in Whitman by a vote of 3,365 to 2,730. The question was passed statewide by a 51.8-percent to a 48.2- percent margin.
Question 2, regarding direct payment of dental benefits to dentists for patient care was approved in Hanson 3,134 to 1,809 as well as in Whitman by a vote of 4,006 to 2,055. The question was passed statewide by a 71.2-percent to a 28.8- percent margin.
Question 3, regarding an expanded number of state liquor licenses issued was rejected in Hanson 3,034 to 1,869 as well as in Whitman by a vote of 3,540 to 2,483. The question was rejected statewide by a 55-percent to a 45- percent margin.
Question 4, allowing driver’s licenses for undocumented residents was rejected in Hanson 3,198 to 1,758 as well as in Whitman by a vote of 3,743 to 2,337. The question was passed statewide by a 53.4-percent to a 46.6- percent margin.