Bedford Voters Propel Gordon to Comfortable Primary Victory

State Rep. Kenneth I. Gordon, propelled by support from his hometown of Bedford, cruised to victory in Tuesday’s primary election for the Democratic nomination for state representative in the 21st Middlesex District.

Gordon received 3,747 votes, 65 percent of the ballots cast. His opponent, political neophyte Timmy Sullivan of Burlington, totaled 2,015 votes. All vote totals are unofficial; The Citizen will post the official numbers as soon as they are released by the town clerks in Bedford, Burlington, and Lexington.

The district comprises Bedford, Burlington, and—for the first time—Precinct 6 in Lexington. The candidates basically canceled each other out in Burlington, 1,547-1,523, with Gordon winning by just 24 votes. Gordon won the Lexington precinct, 327-102.

In Bedford, Gordon locked up his sixth term with more than 82 percent of the Democratic vote, winning by a margin of more than 1,500—1,873 to 390.

“I am so proud that my Bedford constituents recognized the important work we have done together and will continue our partnership,” said Gordon at a post-election celebration, just before taking a congratulatory call from House Speaker Ronald Mariano.

Sullivan, contacted by phone, said he was also proud – “that we got to offer voters a choice. No incumbent should run unopposed.” He lauded his “team of young 20-somethings,” and repeated his campaign theme: “We need urgent action on climate.”

Since there is no Republican candidate on the ballot, for the third straight campaign, Gordon is virtually assured of his sixth two-year term in the House. He is the first Bedford resident to serve in the Legislature since Republican Paula Lewellen in 1978.

The total turnout in Bedford was a little more than 3,000, with Republican votes accounting for approximately 20 percent of the total. Bedford Town Clerk Bridget Rodrigue said early voting ballots totaled 1,219, with 162 of them in person and the rest by mail.  Rodrigue added that 83 percent of the early votes (1,019) were Democratic ballots. She said there were also 44 absentee ballots.

The state representative campaign was a contrast. Gordon, a five-term incumbent, trumpeted his accomplishments, which in Bedford included securing annual state education aid for military dependents, relocation of a salt storage operation away from a residential neighborhood near Route 3, and leading efforts to accommodate homeless families shunted to a local hotel.

Sullivan is a former Student Government Association president at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He now heads PHENOM (Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts), an organization that advocates debt-free public higher education.

The challenger called his campaign “grass-roots,” and all of his emphasis was on major issues affecting the state and nation: debt-free public higher education; immediate transition to 100 percent renewable energy; and more State House “transparency,” including term limits for the speaker of the House. He touted his endorsements from progressive organizations.

There was only a single one-on-one campaign event in Bedford. It was a virtual event, a polite  Aug. 22 question-and-answer session moderated by the League of Women Voters on YouTube.

Tuesday afternoon, Gordon volunteers, joined at times by Cody Case, the legislator’s staff director, were posted outside the polls at John Glenn Middle School and Burlington High School, at each site sheltered under a tent without sides. Sullivan was represented at the Burlington high school by a woman holding a sign in one hand and an umbrella in the other.

The Gordon campaign draped a banner over the chain-link fence at the top of the long driveway leading to Burlington High. If name recognition was a concern, Gordon volunteers tried to fix it by posting scores of lawn signs along the roadway, punctuated by an occasional Sullivan sign.

As expected, Gordon, who has not faced a general election opponent since 2016, had a big campaign finance advantage.

According to the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, as of Aug. 31, Gordon raised $36,682 and spent $50,092, but still had a balance in his campaign account of $38,282.

Sullivan raised $15,989 since June 1 and spent almost all of it; his balance as of Sept. 1 was $465.

Correction, 09.06.2022: Republican voter participation in Bedford was approximately 20 percent, not ‘less than 10 percent’ as originally posted. The Citizen regrets the error.

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at mike@thebedfordcitizen.org, or 781-983-1763


Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: editor@thebedfordcitizen.org or 781-430-8827

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Linda Ugelow
3 months ago
  1. I’d say that getting 35% of the vote is great for a new challenger and someone with significantly fewer funds to spend and still in their 20s. It shows that there is interest in his positions and platforms. I hope that the incumbent makes it part of his plan to look into these ideas with more seriousness.
Corey Michael Everett
Corey Michael Everett
3 months ago

I wonder if he’ll reconsider his stances on single-payer healthcare, clean energy timelines and committee vote transparency now? Well, a progressive can hope.

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