Just Missing Out: Hegarty Celebrates Fight for Rep Seat
Arlington voter turns race away from Belmont attorney to Cambridge lawyer.
Just after 8 p.m., family, supporters and a few stragglers were inside the Belmont Lions Club at the MBTA commuter rail station to join state representative candidate Margaret Hegarty to undergo the agonizing act that all candidate's must suffer through: counting votes.
As the campaign team was in a backroom – actually the kitchen – were calculating the votes from poll watchers at 15 precincts in Belmont, Arlington and Cambridge, the handful of early arrivals were treated to boxes of pizza, beers and the king of all election-night food, Chinese.
It was all set for a blow-out party that winners hold.
Hegarty – who along with Dave Rogers and Bobby Reardon was running to succeed Will Brownsberger on Beacon Hill – was greeting her supporters with an anxious expression and a hug, having just heard that she had won big the first reporting precinct of the night, Belmont's second at the nearby Town Hall, winning about 100 votes over his two challengers.
And when the first four of Belmont's precincts were posted on a handmade chart demonstrated that the attorney was going to take her hometown by a wide margin over Cambridge resident Rogers and fellow Belmont resident Reardon.
But just as quickly, Arlington voters came out in droves for Rogers, cutting Hegarty's margin to just under 200 votes.
But with only Cambridge's two precincts remaining, a sense of dread filled the room which was validated less than five minutes later when Rogers easily won his hometown and with it, taking the Democrat Primary for the 24th Middlesex District seat.
And just as suddenly, it became apparent that Hegarty was going to have a lot of extra food on her hands as the anticipated celebration became a time for personnel reflection of the past six months on the trail.
"It was a great campaign," said Hegarty after she thanked her election team, voters and especially her family and 10 year old daughter for being "so engaged" in her second race for an elected position. (Hegarty came in second in her race for Belmont town clerk two-and-a-half years ago)
She said she was thrilled to have won her hometown – taking one of every two ballots cast – winning with supporters between "9 and 90 years old" who believed in the camgaign that stressed promoting state aid to schools, protecting the environment and rebuilding public transportation.
Hegarty said that while the perception that Rogers was the standard bearer for liberal causes – many of Belmont's most prominent left-leaning voters stood by him – "I was the real progressive in the race," she said.
"I'm not sure why this occurred," she said about Rogers taking the progressive mantel from her, having devoted 20 years to public service "where I stressed basic Democratic core values."
"I think that more than ever, it was that and his push in Arlington that gave him the victory," said Hegarty.
"A lot of work was done in Arlington," said Anne Paulsen, who held the seat until 2007 and had supported Hegarty's campaign from the start.
"The three (Arlington) precincts he won are high voting," said Paulsen, noting that voters are "very politically active and quite liberal so they went with who they believed held their views. I don't know if they were right in who would have represented those particular position. But still, (Rogers) did the job there."
"We'll move forward as a party. I know that my supporters in Belmont, Arlington and Cambridge have aliened with what I consider to be the priorities," said Hegarty.
Would she consider another election? On the town level – increasingly talk is about the Board of Selectmen adding two seats to the three already serving – or another run for higher state office?
She isn't counting herself out of politics this soon.
"Tomorrow, I'm taking my daughter to school and reengage as a mother. But with the help of her campaign staff, Hegarty will decide this coming Monday what's her next best step.
"I have devoted my career to public service and I don't think that is reflected what is the make up of our legislature so my hope there is a place for this voice going forward," she said.
But not until she has taken a nap this weekend, Hegarty said.