Longtime State Senator Michael Knapik is resigning on Friday to start a position on Monday at Westfield State University. I’m sure we all wish him well on his new endeavor. So, who will succeed Senator Knapik?
His district, the 2nd Hampden & Hampshire, consists of:
Second Hampden and Hampshire — Consisting of the cities of Chicopee, ward 7, precincts A and B, ward 8, precinct A, ward 9, precinct A, Holyoke and Westfield and the towns of Agawam, Granville, Montgomery, Russell, Southwick and Tolland, in the county of Hampden; and the towns of Easthampton and Southampton in the county of Hampshire.
Two Democratic State Representatives live in the district: Joseph Wagner of Chicopee and Aaron Vega of Holyoke. Similarly, two Republican State Representatives live in the district: Donald Humason, Jr. of Westfield and Nicholas Boldyga of Southwick.
Rep. Wagner’s 8th Hampden district only overlaps with the Senate district in the handful of Chicopee precincts, which looks like less than half of Wagner’s Representative district, giving him a much smaller footprint than the other three Representatives. Rep. Vega’s 5th Hampden district consists of the city of Holyoke (pop. 39,880), entirely within the Senate district. Rep. Humason’s 4th Hampden district consists of the city of Westfield (pop. 41,094), entirely within the Senate district. Rep. Boldyga’s 3rd Hampden district consists of the towns of Agawam, Granville, and Southwick (combined pop. 38,794), all entirely within the Senate district.
One of the four State Representatives, Republican Donald Humason, Jr., immediately announced his candidacy to succeed Knapik. Further, he has long ties to Knapik:
Humason began his political career as an aide to Knapik and has held the House seat which was previously held by Knapik since 2002.
This would suggest that Knapik may prefer Humason succeed him, though I haven’t seen any formal endorsement news or anything along those lines. Does this mean that Boldyga will defer to Humason? Time will tell, though there is one indication that Boldyga might proceed with a primary challenge regardless of Knapik’s potential support for Humason. Boldyga has served as a Massachusetts state chairman for ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. For those unfamiliar with ALEC, it is the conservative “think tank” that promotes legislation at the state level to enact right-wing policies like Stand Your Ground, Voter ID, and many other harmful policies. If Boldyga is ideologically right-wing enough to serve as a state chairman for ALEC, I doubt he’d demur if he wants to challenge Humason for the GOP nomination.
I suppose we’ll hear in the coming days from Reps. Vega and Wagner if either will pursue the Senate seat. Given that it’s a special, meaning that the Representatives won’t have to risk their current seats, I expect Rep. Vega to give it a thorough look. With a smaller geographic footprint, will Rep. Wagner defer to Rep. Vega in the name of Democratic unity should Rep. Vega give it a go? Again, time will tell.
Other names have also been mentioned as potential candidates:
Several possible Democratic candidates include Rep. Aaron Vega of Holyoke, City Treasurer Jon D. Lumbra and Patrick B. Beaudry, a former legislative aide from Holyoke.
Westfield City Councilor Brian Sullivan, a Democrat, is also being mentioned, but he could not be immediately reached on Monday. […]
As for possible Democratic candidates, Lumbra, 37, said he switched his registration from Republican to Democrat about nine or ten months ago. He said he is definitely considering a run and would run as a Democrat if he gets into the contest. […]
Beaudry, 26, a former legislative aide to Knapik and former state Rep. Michael Kane, a Democrat from Holyoke, said he is leaving all options on the table. He said he has fielded phone calls from numerous Democratic activists offering support.
While Rep. Vega might appear to be the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, family matters may intervene:
Vega said he is weighing his options but he is happy in his current elected job.
Vega also said he promised his wife that this year would be free of campaigns, after he ran successfully for re-election to the Holyoke City Council in 2011 and then for the state House of Representatives last year. He said it would be hard to break that promise.
Vega also noted that he and his wife, Debra, are expecting a baby boy on Nov. 19.
As is the case with fast-moving special elections, expect the announcements to come quickly as to who’s in and who’s out.