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February 25, 2013

Looking to gain a foothold

Republicans hope to have more of an impact in Peabody

PEABODY — They are the also-rans, the afterthoughts, the good sports who show up in November so at least there’ll be someone to choose from. But in Peabody, nobody expects Republicans to have much of a chance when it comes to serving on Beacon Hill.

Yet, with an important special election for state representative looming, the leaders of the city’s Republicans are hoping to change all that. And to do it, they plan on starting at the ground level.

Jarrod Hochman, chairman of the Republican City Committee — and a member of the School Committee — can give sound reasons why Republicans ought to be more competitive in Peabody. For one, their statewide candidates have had success here. In both his special election and his unsuccessful bid for re-election last November, U.S. Sen. Scott Brown took Peabody, Hochman said.

“Charlie Baker carried Peabody,” he said. Baker ran in the 2010 governor’s race.

“No Republican candidate,” John McCarthy said, “has won statewide without winning Peabody.”

McCarthy is the city’s Republican state committeeman. He’s also been an unsuccessful candidate for state representative.

Two Republicans have declared for the special election to fill the seat left open by the death of state Rep. Joyce Spiliotis in November.

Leah Cole and Gregory Bunn will face off in a March 5 primary, with the winner competing in the April 2 final election with Democrat Beverley Ann Griffin Dunne, a school board member, and the unenrolled (he promises to caucus with the Democrats) Councilor-at-large David Gravel on April 2.

In contrast to Griffin Dunne and Gravel, neither Cole nor Bunn have run for election in Peabody previously.

Hochman is encouraged by both candidates, nevertheless.

“Did anyone think Scott Brown had a chance against Martha Coakley?” he asked, citing the former senator’s opponent in the 2010 special election. “Everyone who puts their name on the ballot has a chance.”

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