BOSTON — State Senate Republicans welcomed their first new caucus member in six years on Wednesday.
Peter Durant of Spencer resigned his House seat and was sworn in by Gov. Maura Healey. He joins Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and Ryan Fattman and Patrick O’Connor in the Senate.
To the leader of the branch’s little band of Republicans, Tarr, Durant’s special election win represented proof that the state party’s message can resonate.
“He has proven that the ideals that we share, the principles that we stand for, are viable in Massachusetts, and the voters in his district spoke loud and clear about that,” Tarr said at a caucus press conference before the swearing-in ceremony.
Durant faulted the state’s approach to the migrant shelter crisis, which the governor is overseeing, during his special election race in which he defeated Democrat Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik of Gardner.
The last Republican to join the minority party caucus in the Senate was Dean Tran in 2017. Democrat John Cronin defeated Tran in the 2020 election and Tran since then has run into legal trouble.
With Durant’s arrival, “minority crescent” — as Tarr calls their seating area — saw a 33% population increase.
Tarr said that will help Republican senators distribute the work of myriad committee assignments, commission memberships, and event attendance.
“For us, every member that we have is extremely, extremely significant, because it helps to spread that workload and ensure that we can fulfill the mission that we’ve set out for ourselves,” Tarr said.
Durant’s wife, Kate Campanale, a former state representative who ran for lieutenant governor in 2022, said she will not seek her husband’s his vacant House seat in 2024.
Durant represented the 6th Worcester district in the House, encompassing Southbridge, Dudley, and parts of Charlton and Spencer, since 2011. Elected to the Senate following a special election earlier this year, the Spencer Republican left the House seat unoccupied with over a year left in the 2023-2024 lawmaking session.
The Worcester and Hampshire Senate seat opened up with the springtime resignation of Democrat Sen. Anne Gobi.
“One of the things that everybody always said was that in the Senate, you get to work more closely with your colleagues. There’s a more congenial-type atmosphere, if you will. And I have to say that at least so far, that’s been true,” Durant said during an appearance with his new Senate Republican Caucus colleagues.
Material from the State House News Service was used in this report.