When Chelsea’s Roy Avellaneda pulled papers to run for state representative in the dead of winter last January, he said he knew it was going to be a race that continued until next fall – despite the March 4 Special Election.
And though Avellaneda lost that Special Election by a 2 to 1 margin to Charlestown’s Dan Ryan, this week Avellaneda vowed to continue on with that nine-month fight by pulling papers to run once again for the seat in this September’s Democratic primary.
He will once again face Ryan, who has also pulled papers for the fall despite not yet having won the April 1 General Election. He is considered to be the informal incumber, though, as there is no opponent in that April 1 election. The seat was vacated in January by long-time State Rep. Gene O’Flaherty.
On Wednesday, Avellaneda said he believed that having more time to form his campaign would make a distinct difference this time around.
“I had always figured anyone who was involved in this campaign as a candidate had to have concluded that they were going to run twice,” he said. “Win or lose, I knew it was going to be nine months of campaigning. We obviously ran and lost, but nothing happened on Election Day that served to change my mind about a second run…The one thing we needed in our campaign to do everything we wanted was more time. We didn’t have time to register people or do voter registration drives, which was a major goal of ours. Now we have six months to run this campaign and I think it will make a big difference.”
One of the disappointments in the race on this side of the Mystic Tobin Bridge was the dismal voter turnout in Chelsea. Despite having a popular, Latino candidate from Chelsea, voters didn’t swarm to the polls.
There are many reasons for that. Some of it is a trend going back several years, Avellaneda said, and some of it has to do with the challenge of cold weather campaigning last month.
Despite that, Avellaneda said he expects a much larger turnout in September for contested state races, and he believes the numbers are in his favor.
“We were disappointed by the low turnout on March 4, but in retrospect that has not been an issue that just turned up, but rather one that has been ongoing for years,” he said. “I’ll point to uncontested City Council races and the fact that we’ve seen School Committee seats with no candidates…We did get 80 percent of the Chelsea vote. Those who did show up in Chelsea knew our message and mostly voted for me. I’m trying to just enlarge that 80 percent. Our numbers tell us to expect triple the turnout in September. With six months to campaign, we hope we can take advantage of a higher turnout due to many more races like governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.”
He also said he believes an extended campaign will allow him to make inroads in Charlestown, something he just didn’t have the time to do in a period of a few weeks.
“I never had time to property campaign in Charlestown,” he said. “We didn’t even have a debate. I find it disappointing that there was not an opportunity for candidates to get on a stage and talk about their differences. There are distinct differences between Dan Ryan and myself…I know if I have a chance to walk into the hallways and living rooms of Charlestown, I know I will be able to walk out with their endorsement and their votes. I didn’t get a chance to give a proper introduction of myself to the people of Charlestown…This is not going to be solely won on either Chelsea or Charlestown. I am going to be in Charlestown a lot and my opponent will probably be in Chelsea. It will be a race across the entire district.”