Republican voters nominated Mattapoisett chiropractor Jeffrey Swift in Tuesday’s 10th Bristol District primary election.
The primary was a match between Swift and Robert Scott McConnell, a retired Plymouth County deputy sheriff and chairman of the Fairhaven Republican Town Committee. Swift shot down the deputy sheriff’s bid by a 217 vote margin.
The race was too close to call on the night of the election because some precincts had not reported results. McConnell conceded Wednesday morning after more tallies rolled in.
Both Swift and McConnell received the majority of the votes in their hometowns — Mattapoisett and Fairhaven, respectively. While McConnell was more popular in the eastern part of the district, Swift dominated in the western towns.
Swift said the key to his success was his reputation as an active member of the South Coast community.
“I’m very grateful for everyone that supported me, and now I’m gonna sit down and try to focus on my campaign,” he said.
Moving forward, Swift said he plans to hold “get togethers” with locals to see what issues are important to them.
McConnell said he wasn’t disappointed by the results or his campaign’s effort, and he would be calling Swift to congratulate him.
“With our limited financing and limited help, we did really good and definitely got our point across that people deserve a choice,” he said.
Swift will go up against incumbent Rep. Bill Straus, who has held the seat for 30 years, in the Nov. 8 general election. Straus comfortably defeated Democratic challenger Rick Trapilo in the Democratic primary Tuesday.
Follow The New Bedford Light for the latest updates on the Nov. 8 elections, including election synopses and candidate profiles.
It was an unusually competitive primary season for the 10th Bristol District — the last time both the Republican and Democratic primaries were contested at once was 1956.
The district covers Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Marion, and Rochester. It also used to cover some of New Bedford’s Near North End, but after 2021 redistricting it now includes a sliver of New Bedford north of Brooklawn Park and part of Acushnet.
While Democrats in the race had clear disagreements on specific policies, the differences between the two Republican candidates were less clear. McConnell’s campaign was primarily focused on his career with the sheriff’s department rather than policy. Meanwhile, Swift has no campaign website and he has not given interviews with media outlets until his victory Wednesday.
Swift’s chiropractic patients, office staff, and even his parents were out holding signs near polling locations Tuesday. When asked which of Swift’s policy stances they liked, Swift supporters near the Mattapoisett polling location instead pointed to the candidate’s “conservative values.”
“He’s smart, and he’s common sense,” said Rick Trevers, one of Swift’s patients. Trevers and other supporters characterized Swift as an honest and caring member of the community.
Despite Swift’s low profile, he managed to raise $8,720 for his campaign, all from individual contributions. McConnell, even after campaigning door-to-door throughout the district, could only raise $1,370.
Swift appeared confident at a public event hosted by the Mattapoisett Republican Party last week. Party Chair Paul Criscuolo walked up to greet him just before the event started.
“You bring any signs?” Criscuolo asked. Other candidates had brought yard signs to give out to voters, but Swift was empty-handed.
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“The town is littered with them,” Swift said, smiling.
In a speech at the event, Swift said he wanted to be a “citizen legislator.” He added that he wanted to repeal the law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses in Massachusetts — a stance he shares with McConnell.
Swift also listed his plans to improve roads and bridges, protect parental rights, ensure school safety, support fishermen, and transition to renewable energy. But he did not name any specific policies that would achieve those goals.
The Republican candidate will face steep odds in the general election. Straus has defeated eight Republicans running for the 10th Bristol seat since 1992. As an incumbent, he has never received less than 57% of votes in the general election, and he often received upwards of 70%.
Email Grace Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org.