, Salem, MA


February 8, 2013

Benton: Guns divide Arizona, Mass.



Scott Brown’s upset of Martha Coakley must seem a distant memory for Bay State Republicans who appear prepared to concede this year’s special U.S. Senate election to the Democrats.

This week featured a steady stream of announcements from prominent GOPers saying they weren’t interested in competing for the seat vacated by John Kerry. (State Rep. Dan Winslow, R-Norfolk, did, however, announce Thursday he was “110 percent in the race.”)

Included among those taking a pass are North Shore notables Kerry Healey of Beverly, who served as lieutenant governor under Mitt Romney; former gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker of Swampscott and unsuccessful 6th District congressional candidate Richard Tisei of Wakefield.

There was a time when Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins, the state’s longest-serving and highest-ranking African-American Republican officeholder, might have been considered a prime candidate for service on Capitol Hill. But a series of bruising battles with the correctional officers’ union and a drumbeat of unfavorable TV investigations — the latest, by WCVB, alleging abuse of sick leave by favored employees — have battered the Newburyport native’s reputation.

Nelson Benton spent 40 years covering politics on the North Shore before retiring from The Salem News. Contact him at

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