WILMINGTON, MA — State Representative candidates Dave Robertson (D-Tewksbury) and Pina Prinzivalli (R-Tewksbury) won their respective primaries on Tuesday night. While Prinzivalli’s victory was a foregone conclusion after her only Republican competitor dropped out of the race, Robertson’s fate was anything but certain.
Former Miceli Chief of Staff Dave Robertson (1,341 votes, 26.5%) survived a grueling 5-candidate Democratic primary, defeating former Wilmington Selectwoman and School Committee member Judy O’Connell (1,242 votes, 24.5%), longtime Wilmington Selectman Mike McCoy (1,100 votes, 21.5%), Tewksbury Selectman Mark Kratman (879 votes, 17%), and Wilmington Democratic Town Committee Chair Erika Johnson (533 votes, 10.5%).
While Robertson finished second in his hometown of Tewksbury (behind Mark Kratman) and third in Wilmington (behind Judy O’Connell and Mike McCoy), he was able to cobble together enough support across both communities to ultimately come out on top. He defeated runner-up Judy O’Connell by just 99 votes, representing 2% of the vote.
“I’m honored and humbled by this victory,” Dave Robertson told Wilmington Apple shortly after hearing the results. “The towns of Wilmington and Tewksbury put their faith in me. Now is my opportunity to win their trust and votes again in the general election. I look forward to putting my head down, getting back on [the campaign trail], and continuing to fight for the residents of the 19th Middlesex.”
“I don’t want to speak for all the candidates, but I think we were all confident and cautiously optimistic. To say I was 100% confident would be arrogant,” explained Robertson. “I adopted the philosophy that I’m always 20 percentage points behind. It’s what kept me going when, for example, I knocked on doors for 6-7 hours on Saturday, and there was one more dead-end street to go with just 3 houses on it, but I decided to [finish the canvass] because those residents deserved the opportunity to [tell me their concerns].”
Robertson quickly credited his campaign team as the driving force behind his victory.
“As cliche as it sounds, I attribute my win to my campaign team, without a doubt,” said Robertson. “And I don’t just mean my Campaign Manager Gary DePalma and my Campaign Treasurer Jesse Fennelly, I mean all the volunteers. I had people take as many as 100 Dear Friends postcards, show for an hour to hold a sign, make 20 phone calls, etc. Without all of them, I couldn’t get my message out there.”
“And I certainly attribute my win to the good folks of both towns who stepped forward and put their faith in me,” stressed Robertson.
Over the next nine weeks, Robertson intends on focusing his campaign on the issues Wilmington and Tewksbury care most about it. He specifically noted infrastructure improvements (particularly as it relates to Route 38), smart economic development, support for the school systems (both in terms of improved facilities and support of teachers), and more affordable housing opportunities for seniors looking to downsize as well as for first-time homebuyers.
Pina Prinzivalli, a branch manager at a local bank, cruised to victory in the Republican primary under unique circumstances. Prinzivalli’s Republican rival, Tewksbury Finance Committee member Erin Buckley, dropped out of the race several weeks ago. Due to the timing of her announcement, however, Buckley remained on the ballot. Nevertheless, Prinzivalli (1,844 votes), took care of business, defeating Buckley (723 votes), 72% to 28%.
“I want to thank the voters of Tewksbury and Wilmington who delivered a big victory for my campaign in the Republican Primary, but more importantly a victory for the taxpayers who want to move the 19th Middlesex District in a new direction,” said Prinzivalli in a written statement. “Over the years, the status quo on Beacon Hill has made it increasingly difficult to live, work, and raise a family in Massachusetts. We continue to see the majority party wanting to raise taxes and prioritize illegal immigrants by trying to make Massachusetts a Sanctuary State. We can’t afford to continue on that path. We need a bold Republican voice on Beacon Hill. Someone who isn’t going to be afraid to stand up and say ‘no.'”
“As I said from the start of my campaign last October, I’m not a career politician, nor am I looking to become one. I’m a career professional, a hardworking taxpayer like everyone else,” added Prinzivalli. “And as someone who is getting married next year and planning to start a family of my own, I want to help create a new path for working families in Tewksbury and Wilmington, a path that will put us, the taxpayers first.”
The Other Candidates Respond
The losing candidates from Tuesday’s primary took to social media on Tuesday and Wednesday to publicly thank their supporters.
“I entered this race back in May to fill a void. Growing up in Wilmington, I was constantly told that this was a conservative district. Well tonight, after months of hard work knocking doors, attending community events, phonebanking and talking about the issues, I received 533 votes in the Democratic Primary for State Representative in the 19th Middlesex District,” wrote Erika Johnson (D-Wilmington).
“I am a proud progressive Democrat. I ran my campaign as my authentic self. To everyone who supported me, volunteered, donated, and voted, thank you! The response I received from people today renewed my spirit. I urge everyone who voted for me or who supports true Democratic values to get involved in the Wilmington Democratic Town Committee“, added Johnson. “I may have lost but I’m not going anywhere; I will continue to amplify my bold, progressive voice to contribute to the greater good.
“I just wanted to say thank you for all of the support through phone calls, emails and texts yesterday and this morning regarding the campaign and last evening’s results,” wrote Judy O’Connell (D-Wilmington). “Team Judy came up short on this one and I offer my congratulations once again to David Robertson as I did personally via phone last night.”
“I was very pleased with the hometown love as reflected in the 01887 vote tally and I thank my Tewksbury supporters of course as well,” continued O’Connell. “I have learned so much from this experience and I will always be so appreciative of the many who have been there for me every step of the way! With people like you in my life, I woke up today feeling like a winner in the most important ways that politics can never provide. From the bottom of my heart I thank you! Till next time.”
“Thank you everyone for your support, friendship and faith that you showed me during the campaign,” wrote Mark Kratman (D-Tewksbury). “I had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people in our communities and for that I am greatful. Good luck to the 3 remaining candidates. Let’s all work together to make our community better for everyone.”
Mike McCoy (D-Wilmington) took it one step further, showing up to Dave Robertson’s campaign victory party at Wamesit Lanes in Tewksbury to personally congratulate him. McCoy shared the photo on social media.
Robertson’s campaign manager Gary DePalma tells Wilmington Apple he is considering organizing a ‘Unity Breakfast’ so that all five former Democratic primary candidates can “come together, talk things out, and make sure we’re all on the same page.”
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