Democrats Handily Maintain Control On Beacon Hill

Democrats easily retained their control over both houses of the Massachusetts legislature yesterday, maintaining a 34-6 margin in the Senate, in which 17 Democratic seats went uncontested.

They hoped to increase their majority of five-sixths of the House seats, which now will number only 160 instead of 240 as a result of a recent reapportionment. Democrats were unopposed in 62 of these districts.

Interest in the House races focused less on the redistricting, which aided Democrat incumbents at the expense of Republicans, than on the efforts of the Coalition for Legislative Reform, a maverick group seeking to dilute the power of House speaker Thomas W. McGee (D-Lynn) by capturing 55 to 60 of the House seats. Returns for Coalition candidates were not available early this morning.

The only major upset in the House races was the victory of Michael J. Barrett over Rep. Nile Nordberg (R-Reading), who had co-authored the unsuccessful Proposition 21/2 tax cut plan, cloned from California's Proposition 13.

In the state Senate, Sen. George Rogers (D-New Bedford), defeated in the primary by Robert Hunt, failed in his write-in attempt to regain his seat.


The issue of property tax relief had dominated virtually all of the contested state House and Senate campaigns, with most candidates promising to support either a Proposition 13-style tax rollback or a more moderate form of tax relief. Some younger Senate candidates also pledged to democratize Senate rules.