Clark Wins State Senate Race for Tisei's Former Seat
First woman to hold the state Senate seat for the Middlesex and Essex District.
Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Melrose, defeated on Tuesday election opponent Craig Spadafora, a Republican Malden City Councilor, taking the state Senate seat held since 1991 by departing Republican state Sen. Richard Tisei—who ran as Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker's running mate—and becoming the first woman to hold the state Senate for the Middlesex and Essex District.
In her victory speech at the VFW Lt. Norman Prince Post on Main Street in Melrose, Clark said told her supporters that she was "grateful" for their support, friendship and the volunteer hours put in for her campaign.
"And for always being on the team that did it the right way," she added. "That did it with a positive atittude, with a smile, with a message that we as a community can stand up for our values and win elections."
As of Tuesday night, unofficial vote totals had Clark winning her home city of Melrose with 5,343 to Spadafora's 3,237 vote. The district includes Melrose Wards 1-5.
Spadafora had hoped to build a lead in his own home city, but unofficial results in Malden had Clark winning the city 7,509 votes to Spadafora's 5,959.
Unofficial Wakefield results showed Clark winning that town with 5,728 votes to Spadafora's 5,095. Results from Lynnfield, Reading and Stoneham were not immediately available.
Melrose Patch asked Clark after her speech to what she attributed her win.
"I really think it was just a message that we're about community and we're trying to work towards common sense solutions," she said. "Really, it's about creating jobs, supporting our small businesses, our schools. People want a message that we get it. And we hear what they're going through and I think our message just resonated."
Spadafora told Malden Patch, "Obviously, I'm disappointed in the results, but overall I think it was a fantastic race. I met a lot of great people and was a strong candidate, and I'm happy I had the ability to run. And I've been honored by the amount of votes I did receive running as a first-time person running statewide."
Clark and Spadafora had a spirited campaign, coming down on the opposite side of most issues and showing a clear philosophical divide. Clark was asked if there was anything she learned from the campaign that she'll take with her to the Senate.
"The whole campaign underscored for me how difficult it is right now to operate a business in our community," she responded." And we have to really support that. That's something I knew, but this campaign has really expanded on that for me and it's something I'm really anxious to go and try help out."
At Anthony's on Canal Street in Malden, Spadafora decided to call Clark and concede just after 9 p.m. Tuesday night.
"There is no next time," Spadafora said to the supportive crowd gathered at Anthony's on Canal Street. "I already called Katherine and conceded. She was very humble."
Spadafora supporters were disappointed but not despondent in the loss, and were loathe to leave their candidate at Anthony's. The music continued for well over an hour after Spadafora announced the loss, and tables remained full in half of the hall.
"I'm surprised he didn't win," said Danielle Hender, a Spadafora supporter and Kiwanis member. "I really thought he had a good chance and that he'd win, and that he had good support."
Hender said she'd support Spadafora in another run.
"I would support him if he ran again, but that's a decision for him and his family to make," she said.
Republican City Committee Vice Chairman Joseph Panciotti said he'd try to convince Spadafora to make another run at statewide office.
"We're not crying, but trying," Panciotti said. "It was a great effort and I'm glad so many people came out to vote."
Panciotti said Spadafora had the edge in spirit during the campaign, and that helped him come so close to victory Tuesday night.
"I think he is more passionate than his opponent, and that came through during the debate in Malden," he said.
As for his future, Spadafora said he's only thinking about tomorrow and not another run for state office. When asked if he had plans to run for mayor, with Malden Mayor Richard Howard announcing he would not run for re-election, Spadafora definitively stated, "I am not running for mayor."
"The only future I'm worried about is going back to work tomorrow," Spadafora said.