Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Our candidate wins in 12th Bristol!




Keiko Orrall, who was backed by the MCFL State PAC, won the special election for State Representative.   The seat had been held by the opposition party for 30 years and her opponent had strong union backing.

Madeline McComish reports that the PAC made 800 phone calls and mailed to 800 plus households. She asked me to thank all of you who voted and those who contacted people in the district. The difference was less than 300 votes! Keiko will be another State House vote to protect life.

I thought you might enjoy the report from the State House News. Anne



By Kyle Cheney

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, SEPT. 21, 2011.....Buoyed by strong turnout in her hometown of Lakeville, Keiko Orrall, a Republican and former member of the community's finance committee, won a special election to the Massachusetts House, flipping the 12th Bristol seat from Democratic control for the first time in more than 30 years.

Orrall defeated Roger Brunelle, a Middleborough Democrat with strong labor backing, capturing an estimated 54 percent of the vote in a special election to fill the 12th Bristol seat vacated in June by Stephen Canessa, a New Bedford Democrat who left to take a post at Southcoast Health Systems.

Voters in Lakeville, a community of about 10,000 residents, turned out in greater numbers than nearby New Bedford precincts, choosing Orrall by a three-to-one margin. Brunelle won New Bedford handily but the small turnout, less than 11 percent, helped propel Orrall to victory. In addition to New Bedford and Lakeville, the district includes portions of Freetown, Taunton and Middleborough.

Overall Orrall won 2,135 votes to Brunelle's 1,761, according to unofficial returns. Sen. Scott Brown endorsed her candidacy during the campaign.

The election grows the minority party's numbers in the 160-member House to 33, building upon gains made by the party in last year's House elections. It also continues a reddening of Bristol County, which is now represented by eight Democrats and six Republicans, four of whom, counting Orrall, are freshmen.

On her campaign website, Orrall explained the rationale for her candidacy. "I am the best candidate for State Rep because I am like you or the person next door," she wrote. "I am a regular person who is interested in politics and is tired of the conservative voice being squashed in this state.

In an interview Wednesday morning, Orrall credited her win to voters' frustration with "government as usual" on Beacon Hill. "They want authentic, honest people," she said. "They're wanting people who are working for the taxpayers and not for themselves."

Orrall said people in her district voiced concerns about illegal immigration, and she called it "a serious problem that has to be addressed." She also said "burdensome" state regulations had jeopardized a medical software company's plans to locate a new facility - and 800 jobs - in Freetown, drawing voter anger.

"Those are the types of regulation that I can change," she said. "We can't wait seven years for the job market to turn around. People are unemployed right now and we have to have solutions we can implement right away."

Rep. Robert Koczera, a New Bedford Democrat who represents the 11th Bristol district, said that Orrall benefited from New Bedford's lack of familiarity with either candidate. Canessa, the seat's previous occupier, hailed from New Bedford.

Koczera called the result of the election "disappointing."

"[Brunelle] campaigned hard and had a good message but his vote didn't come out, especially when you look at the low turnout that took place in the city of New Bedford. I think that basically told the whole story," he said.

Koczera said he doesn't see "any overall trend" in Bristol County, despite a slew of Republican gains within the last year.

"I think when you have a special election, it gives an opportunity for people to send a message, so maybe that might be part of it," he said. "I think that, you know, if the election was held in a general election cycle, it would be different because the turnout would be greater."

All House and Senate members are scheduled to run in redrawn districts in November 2012.

Since 1979, when the Massachusetts House shrank from 240 members to its current 160-member format, the 12th Bristol district has been represented exclusively by Democrats. From 1979 to 1984, the seat was occupied by David Nelson, followed by Joseph McIntyre from 1985 to 1998, George Rogers from 1999 to 2002, Mark Howland from 2003 to 2004 and Canessa from 2005 until he departed earlier this year.

Orrall said she knew a Republican could win the seat, arguing that too often Democrats have coasted to victory unopposed. Canessa, she said, was "well-liked and well-loved in Lakeville," where she noted he once quarterbacked the local football team as a youth.

Orrall said casino gambling arose as an issue - Middleborough has been eyed as a potential site for a casino - but that she views it as an opportunity for government to spend more when she would rather see cuts.

"Where are areas that we can cut that are ineffective?" she said. "We have to pursue those areas. Generating more revenue generally means that you, the taxpayer, are going to pay more money. That's where I always side on the side of the taxpayer."

Orrall also credited the "national climate" with propelling her to victory.

"People are so frustrated with the inability to provide real solutions," she said. "Our message was about all of the people having a chance and representing the taxpayers, not just special interests."

According to her website, Orrall has been married for 21 years and has two children. She was born in Cincinnati. Her father is Japanese and is from Hawaii and her mother is German Irish. One of five children, she attended Smith College in Northampton and her parents were both public school teachers. Orrall also taught in the public schools for several years, according to her site.

On the issues, Orrall called for increased Chapter 70 education aid to cities and towns and cutting "wasteful" spending at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. According to her site, she supports lower taxes, hiring incentives, reducing "oppressive" regulations, and enforcing immigration laws and encouraging legal immigration. She does not plan to accept gas travel stipends or a pension.

Orrall said she planned to visit the State House Wednesday to meet with Reps. Shaunna O'Connell (R-Taunton) and Elizabeth Poirier (R-North Attleborough).


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