The race for state representative in the 8th Bristol District features a rematch of 2020, with 12-year incumbent Paul Schmid III, a Westport Democrat, defending his seat against Evan Gendreau, an ascendant newcomer for Republicans. 

Schmid, 79, a former Marine Corps reserve and successful businessman, now raises beef cattle on a farm that overlooks the water. Education, agriculture, and economic development (for which he includes support of offshore wind and South Coast Rail) are the issues he points to as his priorities. 

Gendreau, 23, works as a political analyst and consultant, though he’s campaigning full time these days. Raised in Fall River and Westport, Gendreau says that working summers in the industrial park in Fall River gave him an important perspective for when he “caught the political bug” at UMass Dartmouth, where he majored in political science and began his policy analysis job.


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In 2020, as a 21-year-old college senior, Gendreau won 43% of the vote as the first Republican challenger for 8th Bristol since 1996. Because of COVID-19, he wasn’t able to organize many of the grassroots events that he says are necessary, especially when looking to unseat a longtime incumbent.

“Having choice is good for democracy,” Gendreau says. “When there’s competitive local races, it brings attention to the issues.” 

“Fiscal responsibility, tax relief, and public safety” are Gendreau’s top issues, he says with practiced deliberation.

As the chair of the Westport Republican Committee, Gendreau says he wants his campaign —  besides just winning — to help build the party. “What we’ve done is a good model,” he says. That model depends on “making sure that the party can recruit and support candidates for winnable seats.” Massachusetts has some of the fewest contested local elections in the country, he says.

“This seat in particular presented a good opportunity,” Gendreau says. “There’s an appetite for something new.”


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Gendreau won an endorsement from the outgoing Gov. Charlie Baker, who he likes to call “the most popular governor in the country.” He lists Baker among the politicians he admires or aligns with, or “someone like him who can compromise and get things done.” Fred Kalisz, the late New Bedford mayor, and Steve Xiarhos, a Republican state representative in Barnstable County, are others.

One issue Gendreau does not support is allowing driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, an issue voters will weigh in on directly. In an interview with WBSM, Gendreau said the RMV is not capable of processing foreign documents. 

Since his campaign ramped up again in May, Gendreau usually spends just over $1,000 per month and has almost $5,000 left. Meanwhile, his opponent spent $20,000 last month alone and has over $100,000 remaining. 

“Running against an incumbent is definitely not an easy task,” Gendreau says. “We’ve had to work harder to introduce ourselves.”

Both candidates, even the incumbent, have been “introducing themselves” since the 8th District has been redrawn. There are now five cities and towns: Westport, Fall River, New Bedford, Freetown and Acushnet. Only one precinct remains in New Bedford’s far North End; two Acushnet precincts were added. 


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And both candidates claim the new precincts from Acushnet will benefit their campaign.

“New Bedford will always have my heart and soul,” Schmid said, but “Acushnet fits into my … agenda.” 

Schmid points to the passage of the Student Opportunity Act, a landmark law that is increasing education spending in Gateway Cities (including New Bedford and Fall River) as one of his proudest achievements. Now he wants to focus on rural schools. 

“One of my main focuses [for next term] will be increasing funding for our rural schools,” Schmid said. “We have some of the same issues.” 

He also says he plans to support “a robust farm-to-school” system, where students would eat healthier as districts support local agriculture. “We have to learn to grow more of what we eat,” Schmid said. A food systems grant that is helping New Bedford schools purchase a new central kitchen and possibly expanding EBT (commonly known as food stamps) so that families can buy produce at farmer’s markets are examples of this system. 

Schmid’s own farm, he says, has helped him to advocate for agricultural issues at the Statehouse. He’s often identified with the farmer’s boots that poke out from beneath his suits — and he says the boots are more expensive than any suit he wears. 

“It’s work, but I love it,” Schmid says of raising cattle. “I’m very fortunate to be able to do it.” The farm has been in Schmid’s family for decades.


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That’s not the only heritage he brings to the Statehouse. Schmid was among the founding members of Massachusetts’s Asian Caucus. “My mother escaped from Shanghai when the Japanese invaded in 1937,” he says. Because he grew up in the States, Schmid says the other legislators “were very kind to include me.”

Schmid is currently supporting legislation to protect seniors from rising housing costs. “With the way rents are in New Bedford … it puts a lot of seniors in a bad position,” he says. He hopes that a tax refund known as the senior circuit breaker will increase its cap to $2,000, meaning eligible seniors could get more money back.

One issue Schmid does not support is a proposed amendment to raise state income tax on earners of more than $1 million. This will also be put directly to voters in ballot Question 1. “In principle, I agree that those doing very well could pay more,” he said, “but I’m concerned about 9% and setting that in our constitution.” 

Schmid is also a member of the legislative committees on Public Health, Regulatory Oversight, Ways and Means, and acts as vice chair on the Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy. 

Email Colin Hogan at chogan@newbedfordlight.org.

Editor’s Note: State Rep. Paul Schmid has donated to support non-partisan local journalism at The Light. Board members, founders and donors do not exert any influence over content. The Light is committed to transparency and publishes a full list of donors here.