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Orrall, Lakeville Republican, wins House seat

By Kyle Cheney
State House News Service / September 22, 2011

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Buoyed by strong turnout in her hometown of Lakeville, Keiko Orrall, a Republican and former member of the community’s Finance Committee, won a special election to the Massachusetts House Tuesday, taking the 12th Bristol seat from Democratic control for the first time in more than 30 years.

Orrall defeated Roger Brunelle, a Middleborough Democrat with strong labor backing, capturing an estimated 54 percent of the vote to fill the seat vacated in June by Stephen Canessa, a New Bedford Democrat who left to take a post at Southcoast Health Systems.

Voters in Lakeville, a community of about 10,000 residents, turned out in greater numbers than nearby New Bedford precincts, choosing Orrall by a 3-to-1 margin. Brunelle won New Bedford handily, but the small turnout, less than 11 percent, helped propel Orrall to victory. In addition to New Bedford and Lakeville, the district includes portions of Freetown, Taunton, and Middleborough.

Overall, Orrall received 2,135 votes to Brunelle’s 1,761, according to unofficial returns. US Senator Scott Brown endorsed her candidacy during the campaign.

The election raises the minority party’s numbers in the 160-member House to 33, building upon gains made by the party in last year’s House elections. It also continues a reddening of Bristol County, which is now represented by eight Democrats and six Republicans, four of whom, counting Orrall, are freshmen.

On her campaign website, Orrall explained the rationale for her candidacy.

“I am the best candidate for state rep because I am like you or the person next door,’’ she wrote. “I am a regular person who is interested in politics and is tired of the conservative voice being squashed in this state.’’

In an interview yesterday, Orrall attributed her win to voters’ frustration with “government as usual’’ on Beacon Hill.

“They want authentic, honest people,’’ she said. “They’re wanting people who are working for the taxpayers and not for themselves.’’