The results of Tuesday’s Democratic Primary for Berkshire County District Attorney all but guarantee the election of the first woman to the post.
“Well folks- we’re ready to declare victory," Democratic State Representative John Barrett told the enthusiastic crowd.
The mood was jubilant in downtown Pittsfield’s Flavours of Malaysia Tuesday night as Barrett took to the stage at Andrea Harrington’s primary night party. The crowd included former Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto, community leaders from around the county, and Harrington’s family and well-wishers.
“Some of you won’t remember a guy by the name of Jackie Gleason," said Barrett, "but he used to say- ‘how sweet it is.’”
The crowd roared.
With results from the hard fought campaign for District Attorney rolling in, it became clear that the Great Barrington attorney had topped not just her rival progressive candidate and fellow attorney Judith Knight, but beaten incumbent DA Paul Caccaviello by roughly 700 votes. While Caccaviello carried Pittsfield, Harrington’s wins in Williamstown, North Adams, and Great Barrington propelled her forward. As Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer took the mic from Barrett, the final confirmation of the still unofficial victory came from one of Harrington’s campaign staffers, who yelled “I have a very important phone call!” as he passed a ringing phone to Harrington.
It was Caccaviello, calling to concede to Harrington, who thanked the DA.
“Thank you," she said to Caccaviello in the hushed room. "It was a great race and I really thank you for all your work on behalf of the people of Berkshire County. And I talked to many victims across the county who were really grateful for your advocacy for them.”
“Let’s give him a hand!” yelled another Harrington supporter to explosive applause.
With that, Tyer – who endorsed Harrington in August – praised her fellow Democrat’s campaign.
“She reflected back to all of us what we believe about our county and about our city," said the mayor, "and what we hope for for the next District Attorney. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m so pleased to introduce- as your mayor- to introduce our next District Attorney, Andrea Harrington.”
“This is a night for gratitude, and I really sincerely from the bottom of my heart want to thank everybody in this room tonight,” said Harrington to chants of "Andrea! Andrea!"
During her remarks, Harrington thanked Caccaviello for his 30 years of service to the county, describing the race as “hard fought.” She did not mention Knight, the third candidate. After thanking her political mentors, family, staff, and supporters, she dedicated her win “to everybody who voted for me, who believed in me, who believed that together we’re going to build a new future for Berkshire County. And to all of the people who did not vote for me," continued Harrington, "I promise to work just as hard for your as I work for everybody else.”
Dennis Powell, president of the NAACP Berkshire County Branch, took the stage after Harrington to say that despite not officially endorsing her during the primary race, he’s been a supporter of Harrington since her unsuccessful 2016 State Senate run.
“I can tell you that all of you who were on her team and all of the voters in Berkshire County made the right choice," said Powell, pointing to Harrington. “We needed a change in the criminal justice system. That’s the change that we voted in tonight.”
Powell said that Harrington had the full support of the NAACP, and invited her to the group’s January 1st meeting to present her agenda to its membership.
Across town, WAMC ran into Judith Knight exiting Caccaviello’s primary party at Mazzeo’s, just south of downtown Pittsfield. She blamed her loss- by about 3,300 votes to Harrington and 2,600 to Caccaviello – on a late start.
“But I feel like I really elevated the whole race by coming in and really talking about the important issues that we need to do for the criminal justice system,” Knight told WAMC.
Inside the almost empty restaurant, Caccaviello said he was pleased by the primary turnout that saw more than 21,500 of the roughly 88,500 registered county voters cast ballots.
“Obviously we’re disappointed in the result," said the DA. "I already talked to Mrs. Harrington- that was a little bit ago- and conceded the primary and told her we’ll take a couple days and think about our options from there on in.”
Knight and Caccaviello’s campaign told WAMC they have no current plans to run in November’s general election. No Republican is running for Berkshire District Attorney.
The other race to watch in the Berkshires was the Democratic primary for State Senate. In a far less suspenseful outcome, incumbent Adam Hinds defeated Lee selectman Thomas Wickham by roughly 14,000 votes in his bid for a second term representing the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden District.
Outside the Berkshires, State Senator James Welch declared victory in the Democratic primary for the Hampden District which includes parts of the cities of Springfield and Chicopee and all of West Springfield.
Write-in candidate Jo Comerford of Northampton won the Democratic primary in the State Senate district once represented by former Senate President Stan Rosenberg, who resigned in May.
First-time candidate Lindsey Sabadosa of Northampton won the Democratic primary for the Massachusetts House seat left vacant by the death earlier this year of State Representative Peter Kocot.
Natalie Blais topped a field of seven Democrats in the primary for the 1st Franklin House District. She’ll succeed State Rep. Stephen Kulik who is retiring after 25 years in the legislature.
In the race to replace State Rep. John Scibak, another longtime legislator who is retiring, Easthampton City Councilor Daniel Carey won a three-way Democratic primary. He will face Republican Donald Peltier in the November 6th general election.
Democrat Mindy Domb of Amherst won the Democratic primary for the Massachusetts House seat left open when incumbent Solomon Goldstein-Rose opted not to seek a second term.