TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) — Two Democrats and a Republican have submitted nomination papers to compete in an upcoming special election for the legislative seat left open by newly inaugurated Taunton Mayor Shaunna O’Connell.
Democrat Carol Doherty, a school committee member, and Republican Kelly Dooner, a national committeewoman, both of Taunton, filed paperwork to run for the Third Bristol district in the House of Representatives ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, according to the city’s Registrar of Voters.
In Easton, Muzammil Nazir also filed nomination papers to run as a Democrat, according to the town clerk there.
The district covers 12 of Taunton’s 16 voter precincts, as well as one precinct in neighboring Easton. The seat opened after Taunton voters in November chose O’Connell to serve as the city’s mayor.
A primary vote for the special election will be held on the same day as the Massachusetts presidential primary, March 3. The winners of the primary will face off for a final vote on March 31. The candidates have until next Tuesday to file certified nomination papers with Secretary of State William Galvin’s office.
Only two people have represented the Third Bristol District in the last quarter-century. O’Connell, a Republican, was first elected in 2010, when she defeated longtime Democratic incumbent James Fagan.
While O’Connell won four comfortable re-election victories over the last decade, the district would appear to be competitive. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama won the district in 2016 and 2012, respectively, but for statewide office and U.S. Senate its preference has switched between Democratic and Republican candidates, according to data compiled by the website Daily Kos.
The winner of the special election would have to go back on the campaign trail this fall to seek a full two-year term.
Ted Nesi (email@example.com) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook