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John Fernandes tops incumbent Marie Parente

A Milford lawyer claimed victory last night over longtime state Representative Marie J. Parente, a Democrat who has served on Beacon Hill for more than 20 years.

John V. Fernandes, a former selectman and former school committee member, beat Parente throughout her 10th Worcester District -- in Milford, Mendon, and Upton, according to a campaign aide.

Parente, who was first elected in 1982, is a vocal and staunch opponent of same-sex marriage and of extending benefits to undocumented workers. Now 78 years old, she frequently spoke of retiring, but ran for reelection time after time.

``We won every precinct in Milford and the towns of Mendon and Upton," said Fernandes, who will face Republican Robert P. Burns, of Hopedale, in November. ``What it says to me is that people were ready to transition to new representation and responded to the positive campaign I tried to run in this race."

Though he did offer different positions than Parente on gay marriage, stem-cell research, and immigration, he said, his major focus was on ``pocketbook issues. We talked more about the impact of property taxes and the Big Dig on spending priorities."

Fernandes, who is of Portuguese and Italian descent, said that immigrant issues were not central in the campaign, though Milford has a large and growing Portuguese and Brazilian immigrant population.

Ali Noorani, executive director of Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, called Parente's defeat ``a stunning remark on a representative so willing to talk about immigrant issues."

``While we disagreed on many issues, " said Noorani, ``I personally have respect for her as an individual. She was a passionate advocate for her constituents."

Though a handful of incumbent state lawmakers faced primary challenges in yesterday's primaries, the fiercest contests were for 10 open seats, given up by lawmakers who decided not to seek reelection.

Others leaving their state jobs are: Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. of Pittsfield, Senator Brian E. Lees of East Longmeadow, Representative Shirley A. Gomes of South Harwich, Virginia M. Coppola of Foxborough, Philip Travis of Rehoboth, Arthur J. Broadhurst of Methuen, Emile J. Goguen of Fitchburg, Mark J. Carron of Southbridge, and Gale D. Candaras of Wilbraham. Nuciforo, Lees , and Candaras are running for other offices.

Voters in Everett picked a replacement for Representative Edward G. Connolly, a Democrat who died in May.

In Worcester County, Democratic Representative John P. Fresolo was being challenged by Melissa Murgo, a former aide who ran against him in 2004. Fresolo won that battle with 56.5 percent of the vote.

Other incumbents facing challenges from candidates within their own party were Senator Robert A. Havern of Arlington, Majority Leader Representative John H. Rogers of Norwood, and Representatives Joyce A. Spiliotis of Peabody, William S. Pignatelli of Lenox , and Mark V. Falzone of Saugus. They are all Democrats.

Facing two primary challengers were Representatives Robert Correia of Fall River and Benjamin Swan of Springfield.

Same-sex marriage supporters were active across the state, focusing primarily on the open seats, where they hoped to pick up new votes on Beacon Hill, particularly in the House. They distributed literature, raised money , and campaigned on behalf of endorsed candidates from New Bedford to Agawam.

MassEquality, which distributed 250,000 pieces of mail to voters, zeroed in on seats being vacated by two of the most vocal opponents of gay marriage -- Philip Travis of Rehoboth and Emile J. Goguen of Fitchburg. In the race for Goguen's seat, MassEquality backed Stephen DiNatale; it also supported Steven D'Amico, who was running to succeed Travis.

the group also worked on behalf of Rosemary Samblin, who was running for Candaras's seat in Agawam; Rosemary Miller, who ran on stickers for the seat held by Connolly; and for incumbents Senator Dianne Wilkerson, Representative Marie St. Fleur of Boston , and Falzone.

Mass. Primary 2006 - Latest Globe Coverage
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