By Mac Cerullo Staff Writer
---- — WEST NEWBURY — For the first time in more than two decades, the 2nd Essex District representative seat will be held by a Republican.
Lenny Mirra of West Newbury completed his rise from small businessman to Beacon Hill last night, beating Democratic opponent and fellow West Newbury resident Barry Fogel with 52 percent of the vote.
Mirra won by 1,119 votes, collecting a total of 12,627 compared to Fogel’s 11,511. Once the final results from Byfield came in at 9:55 p.m., Mirra stood up at his victory party at Coach’s Rock Pond Pub in Georgetown and addressed his supporters.
Mirra will succeed Rep. Harriett Stanley, D-West Newbury, the famously bipartisan representative who is stepping down after representing the 2nd Essex District for the past 18 years. The district includes West Newbury, Newbury, Merrimac, Georgetown, Groveland and parts of Haverhill and Boxford.
“We were up against a very big powerful machine, and we beat the machine today,” Mirra told his supporters after the results came in. “We had to work twice as hard and had to do twice as much, and I couldn’t have done this without the best team in the state.”
Mirra performed well all across the district, winning Georgetown, Groveland, Boxford and, most significantly, both candidates’ hometown of West Newbury, where he came out ahead by several hundred votes, 1,431 to 1,185. His win there seemed to set the tone early on.
Fogel performed stronger in Merrimac and Newbury, where he won by several hundred votes in each community, along with Haverhill, which he took by 32 votes. But it was not enough to overcome the big advantage that Mirra had elsewhere.
“It’s just exhilarating; this is the most exciting day of my life,” Mirra said. “We have a lot of things to tidy up, I have two businesses I have to put in other people’s hands right now, but I’m looking forward to doing the people’s business and it’s going to be a full-time job.”
After the race, Fogel said he was disappointed with the result, but was proud of the campaign he ran, saying the fact that the 2nd Essex District tends to lean Republican, along with the several key endorsements Mirra received, were probably the main factors in the outcome. He said it likely helped Mirra considerably to have the endorsement of the district’s respected state Sen. Bruce Tarr.
“That may well have been the difference,” Fogel said.