Happy Saturday! Here’s another edition of my weekend column for WPRI.com — as always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to tnesi@wpri.com and follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

1. On paper, Seth Magaziner should always have been favored to win the 2nd Congressional District. Democrats have held the seat for 32 years, its voters went for Joe Biden by double-digits, and the Republican brand has become electoral poison in New England. Yet by the final days of the race, national forecasters were shifting the contest from “toss-up” to slightly favor Allan Fung. And in fairness, it wouldn’t have taken much to shift the race Fung’s way. Magaziner won by 3.6 points, 50.4% to 46.8%; if just 4,000 out of 200,000 voters had switched their votes, Fung would be a congressman-elect today. And that could have easily happened if there had been a coast-to-coast “red wave.” But there wasn’t — instead, GOP leaders executed one of the worst midterm performances in decades, dragging Fung and the rest of their New England nominees down with them. A losing campaign always faces plenty of second-guessing. Could Fung have more clearly defined his differences with the national party? Should he have kept more distance from Kevin McCarthy? Were the Congressional Leadership Fund’s rich-kid attacks on Magaziner the right message in a state which elected Claiborne Pell? But Fung didn’t just lose — Magaziner won. The 39-year-old worked his tail off in the final weeks, campaigning nonstop, raising money and performing well in debates. His campaign team, led by Katie Nee, put together a ground game that likely made the difference between victory and defeat. And he benefited from the all-in support of both U.S. senators, organized labor, and rank-and-file Democratic activists. Plus, the final results showed Democrats were right to say House control could come down to Rhode Island; the expected GOP majority is looking so thin that every seat counts, including this one.

2. Congressman-elect Magaziner heads to Washington on Sunday to attend a week-long orientation for freshman lawmakers on Capitol Hill. He’s also named campaign manager Katie Nee to lead his transition planning as he hires staff and sets up his House office. As for whether Magaziner will be serving in the majority or the minority, Politico’s Steve Shepard has a great rundown here of both parties’ path to 218.

3. From the moment he was declared the winner of September’s primary, Dan McKee was the favorite in the race for governor. Still, even McKee’s own campaign team wasn’t predicting he would win the biggest landslide since Bruce Sundlun beat car dealer Elizabeth Leonard in 1992. In fact, the ’92 race feels like a solid analogy for this year’s contest, with a Democratic incumbent only narrowly surviving a hard-fought primary, but then romping to victory against a Republican businesswoman with no political profile. The Ashley Kalus team went into Tuesday predicting an upset; instead she became the fourth straight GOP gubernatorial nominee to get less than 40%, even after dumping almost $5 million of her own money into her campaign. McKee won every city and town carried by Joe Biden except Richmond, and got 8,000 more votes than Gina Raimondo did four years ago despite lower turnout. After 20 months as an unelected governor, McKee has fully replenished his political capital, presenting him and his team with a big opportunity heading into next year’s legislative session. “For nearly 30 years, I have put the people I serve first by listening and learning,” McKee wrote in a thank-you letter to voters Thursday. “That is my job as your governor, and I take it seriously.” With the pandemic and the election in the rear-view mirror, and tons of money in state coffers, McKee has a real chance to set the agenda in January. One thing to watch is whether he brings any new faces into his administration to help steer the ship during his first full term.

4. One of the most interesting aspects of Tuesday’s election results was the fact that Democrats’ strong performance came despite unusually weak turnout in the urban core, where the party traditionally pads its margins. Republican and historian Steve Frias took a look at the numbers and determined Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls all saw their lowest or near-lowest vote totals in the past 100 years. (He also notes that happened despite the General Assembly enacting legislation aimed at increasing voter participation through early voting and the elimination of certain mail ballot requirements.) So how did Dan McKee hit 58% and Seth Magaziner secure a majority? Partly, strong margins in coastal suburbs. Once Republican-friendly towns delivered big for the Democratic ticket, bolstered in the 2nd District by Magaziner’s aggressive turnout operation. An instructive comparison is with 2006, still the record year for a Rhode Island midterm. Look at North Kingstown: in 2006 it gave then-U.S. Sen. Linc Chafee 59%, but on Tuesday only gave Allan Fung 42%; Don Carcieri got 65% in N.K., Ashley Kalus 37%. Or take East Greenwich: Chafee got 66%, but Fung only got 43%; Carcieri got 76%, Kalus got 38%. And even with softer turnout in Providence compared with 2006, McKee topped 80% there, a dramatic improvement from the already lofty 69% that Charlie Fogarty got 16 years ago. That gave McKee a 21,000-vote margin in the capital, compared with Fogarty’s 15,000-vote margin.

5. Rhode Island will have two new general officers in January following Tuesday’s election, as Gregg Amore becomes secretary of state and James Diossa becomes general treasurer. Both have begun laying the groundwork to take over. Amore tells me has hired two transition staffers: Erich Haslehurst, who was his campaign manager, and Joe Rodgers, who is taking a leave from his day job as legal counsel to the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Legislative Services. Transition co-chairs are expected to be named soon. Diossa hasn’t made any formal announcements yet, though Gonzalo Cuervo is being widely discussed as his potential pick for either chief of staff or another senior role. A Diossa spokesperson said Friday he had no personnel announcements, but “is working closely with Treasurer Magaziner to ensure a smooth transition.”

6. There’s always a bit of rivalry among the general officers over who posts the best numbers in each election. The blue ribbon for 2022 goes to Attorney General Peter Neronha, who received 61.5% of the vote. Second place went to Gregg Amore, who got 59.5%, followed by Dan McKee in third with 57.9%; James Diossa in fourth with 54.3%; and Sabina Matos in fifth with 51.2%. (David Cicilline topped them all, netting 64%, but he didn’t have to run statewide.)

7. More transitions: Senate Democrats on Thursday ratified the choice of Cumberland Democrat Ryan Pearson to be their new majority leader, succeeding Mike McCaffrey. Pearson is the first millennial and first openly gay member of Senate leadership, and brings financial expertise from his day job as a banker and years on the Finance Committee, as well as experience negotiating with the House. “Ensuring Rhode Island has great schools, health care, housing and infrastructure is the key to a more prosperous state,” Pearson said in his remarks to the Senate Democrats’ caucus. Still to be named by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio are new committee chairs for both Finance and Judiciary. Republicans in both chambers will also be under new leadership come January, with Mike Chippendale leading the House GOP and Jessica de la Cruz his counterpart in the Senate.

8. The unexpected blue wave that washed over New England on Tuesday swamped even one of the Massachusetts GOP’s last survivors: Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson. The 25-year incumbent lost a razor-thin race to Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux, 50.6% to 49.4%. Heroux won three of the county’s four cities — New Bedford, Fall River and Attleboro — while keeping things close in Taunton. Hodgson hit roughly 60% of the vote in Rehoboth, Dighton, Raynham, Berkley, Freetown and Acushnet, but his margins in those towns couldn’t offset Heroux’s strength elsewhere. No doubt Hodgson was weighed down by the poor performance of the statewide Republican ticket, led by no-hope gubernatorial nominee Geoff Diehl. But he had also put a target on his back by aligning himself so closely with Donald Trump, leading outside groups to pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race to defeat him. One of those independent expenditure groups was the Working Families Party, already a force in Rhode Island, which was making its most serious foray in Massachusetts politics to date. That money ensured voters heard plenty about Hodgson’s many controversies, via four direct mailers and over 150,000 text messages. “Voters rejected the extremism and gross mismanagement that have sadly been hallmarks of the Bristol County House of Corrections for years,” said Jesse Mermell, the former congressional candidate who led the WFP campaign along with Erik Balsbaugh. “They sent a clear signal that it’s time for new leadership that centers public safety and justice.” Heroux’s victory means Attleboro will now have a special election for mayor, as well.

9. Even by New England standards, Tuesday was a historic wipeout for Republicans in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Democrats have now been elected to all 26 statewide and federal offices in the two states for the first time in modern history, as I detailed in this WPRI.com analysis. The Washington Post’s Joanna Slater used that piece as part of her own post mortem on the GOP’s failures in this region.

10. Here’s a dispatch from Target 12 chief investigative reporter Tim White: “With Tuesday’s election dominating the news, you may have missed the latest developments in one of the more bizarre sagas of recent years. A Scottish court ruled it was not buying the story of man who claimed to be Arthur Knight, of Ireland, and decided he was in fact Nicholas Alahverdian of Rhode Island. Anyone who has been following the case wasn’t surprised when the court rejected Alahverdian’s tale as an elaborate lie, and in the end it was fingerprints and tattoos that caused his story to crumble — especially his wild explanation that the tattoos suddenly appeared on his arms when he was in a coma at a Glasgow hospital. The ordeal has garnered international attention. (I actually found myself being interviewed by both the radio and television arms of the BBC this week.) The outlandishness of the case has somewhat overshadowed its seriousness: Alahverdian (a.k.a. Nicholas Rossi) is accused of raping two women and sexually assaulting another in Utah in 2008, prompting U.S. authorities to seek his extradition. Prosecutors have said he faked his own death in 2020 and went on the lam, ultimately surfacing in Scotland in December when he was forced to seek treatment for COVID. But it may be some time before the 35-year-old is back on U.S. soil, if he ever is. A hearing is expected in March where the court will hear legal arguments as to whether the U.K. should extradite him back to the states. And at this point, the only thing that would surprise me about this case is if we don’t see the saga told as a limited series on Netflix next year.”

11. The owners of the Providence Place mall made their formal pitch to city leaders for a big tax break on Thursday night, requesting a long-term deal that would lower their annual tax bill from $25 million to $4.5 million. There was talk during this year’s mayoral campaign about a major reimagining of the mall, with housing often mentioned as one alternative use for its 1.2 million square feet. But Providence Place’s owner, Manhattan-based Brookfield Properties, appears to have more modest changes in mind. Mayor-elect Brett Smiley and City Council President-to-be Rachel Miller have both made it clear they will need more convincing before they sign off on any tax deal.

12. Crossroads Rhode Island spokesperson Mike Raia points out that Seth Magaziner’s election will make him the fourth member of the Crossroads board to leave Rhode Island for D.C. since President Biden took office, joining Gina Raimondo, Dr. Ashish Jha, and Barbara Cottam.

13. And to close out the week, here’s a special dispatch from retired Providence Journal political scribe M. Charles Bakst, remembering two-term attorney general Richard Israel, who died Monday at age 91: “Republican Israel emerged in the forefront of the state political scene in 1970 when GOP Attorney General Herb DeSimone ran for governor. Israel, who had been an assistant AG and a mob prosecutor, was a natural to succeed him. Israel’s slogan was ‘The Job’s Too Tough for Just Anyone.’ In a tough campaign remembered for who could be tougher against organized crime, he defeated Democrat Frank Caprio, a Providence councilman who long after morphed into the famous Municipal Court judge with a TV program. As a young reporter mostly covering education, I didn’t have much do with the race, but late on election night Jack Monaghan, an editor of the Evening Bulletin – the Journal’s afternoon paper – picked me out of nowhere and told me to get up to the Holiday Inn, the site of Israel’s celebration, and do a profile of the victorious candidate. I said: What, we’ve had a profile of him earlier in the campaign. Monaghan informed me: Well, now people are paying attention. So I raced up the street to the hotel and interviewed Israel at 2 o’clock in the morning and came back to the newsroom and proceeded to write. (I can’t imagine anyone doing this today. OK, I can’t imagine myself doing it.) Seeking a third term in 1974, Israel began as the heavy favorite over Democrat Julius Michaelson, a prominent East Side state senator who nevertheless was little known by the statewide electorate. But Michaelson mounted a strong campaign, promising to expand the AG’s consumer rights efforts and to contest proposed utility rate hikes. The Israel-Michaelson race offered one of the best pairings of intelligent candidates I ever saw over a long career of covering politics. I remember a debate in which one candidate would field a question and I’d think, yes, he nailed it, but then the other would speak, and I’d think, well, he nailed it even better, and back and forth they went, and it was a pleasure to behold. Michaelson, with late help from top Democrats who appeared in a TV commercial for him, won the race. The next day, I phoned Israel at home, thinking he must be devastated, and maybe he was, but that’s not how he handled it. I asked, ‘Are you accepting condolences?’ He thought I was over-dramatizing it. ‘No one died,’ he said. And indeed, he went on with a productive life that included a long stint on the Superior Court. But now he has died, and we should take a moment to remember him and thank him.”

14. Set your DVRs: This week on Newsmakers — a political roundtable breaks down this week’s election results in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Watch Sunday at 5:30 a.m. on WPRI 12 or 10 a.m. on Fox Providence, or listen on the radio Sundays at 6 p.m. on WPRO. You can also subscribe to Newsmakers as a podcast on iTunes (or wherever you get your podcasts). See you back here next Saturday morning.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook