Senate seat flip in central Mass. a win for GOP under new leadership

Local News

State Rep. Peter Durant is set to join the Massachusetts Senate in a notable win for the Massachusetts GOP.

GOP state Rep. Peter Durant defeated Democratic state Rep. Jon Zlotnik Tuesday night to flip a seat in the Massachusetts Senate, a notable win for Republicans and potential boon for the party under new Chair Amy Carnevale. 

After a string of losses and accusations of breaking campaign finance law, former GOP Chair Jim Lyons was ousted in January. In the months leading up to Tuesday, Carnevale put her full weight behind Durant in the special election for the Worcester and Hampshire Senate district. Democrats had held the seat for decades, but Anne Gobi was tapped by the Healey administration to be the state’s Director of Rural Affairs in May, opening the door for Durant and Zlotnick. 

“Representative Peter Durant’s win last night in the Worcester-Hampshire district signals a comeback for the MassGOP, demonstrating that Republicans can win in Massachusetts with strong candidates who reflect the priorities of their districts. This marks a significant step forward for the Massachusetts Republican Party,” Carnevale said in a statement. 

Durant, who received an endorsement from former Gov. Charlie Baker, ran on a platform that emphasized economic development and addressing the influx of migrants that is pushing the state’s emergency shelter system to the brink.  Durant said voters “don’t want the illegal immigration situation to continue,” and said that he wants to prevent Massachusetts from being a “costly magnet state,” according to State House News Service

Durant made waves over the summer when he filed legislation to repeal Massachusetts’ unique “right to shelter” law. The law, signed by former Gov. Michael Dukakis in the ‘80s, guarantees shelter for homeless families and pregnant women. 

Durant was also a vocal critic of the sweeping gun control legislation passed by the House last month. 

“When the listening tours were going on, when we were having the informational sessions, when this bill was being written, we were all told that the legal gun owner is not the not the target here. We’re not going after them,” Durant told NBC10 Boston at the time. “But it certainly seems to be that that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Zlotnik will keep his House seat, while Durant will grow the Republican Senate minority to four. 

“Make no mistake, in 2024 this will be a far different race,” MassDems Chair Steve Kerrigan told Politico. 

Durant said he is eager to get to work, and that Carnevale’s leadership was essential to running a successful campaign. 

“I am honored by the overwhelming support we received from so many people. This is a great win for the taxpayers of Massachusetts. I am going to work around the clock to make a positive difference and be their common sense voice in the Senate,” he said in a statement. “I cannot begin to thank Massachusetts Republican Party Chairwoman Amy Carnevale, enough for all the support and leadership showed during this important election. Her dedicated help made this victory possible.”