LOWELL — Democrat Lori Trahan, a former congressional chief of staff who narrowly won a chaotic, 10-candidate primary in September, will represent Massachusetts’ Third Congressional District after she handily defeated Republican businessman Rick Green on Tuesday.
Casting herself as a pragmatist with blue-collar roots, she eschewed the no-holds-barred rhetoric of some Democratic insurgents this year, and emphasized bread-and-butter issues like affordable health care, equal pay for women, and well-paying jobs.
A 45-year-old Lowell native who lives in Westford, she will fill the only open US House seat in Massachusetts, succeeding Democrat Niki Tsongas, who announced last year that she was retiring after five terms. She was part of a wave of Democratic women running for office this year.
With 60 percent of the precincts reporting, Trahan captured 61 percent of the vote to 34 percent for Green and 4 percent for the independent candidate, Mike Mullen.
At her victory party at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, Trahan struck a conciliatory note, saying she wanted to reach out to voters who don’t agree with her.
“If you live here, then I have your back,” she said. “I’m in your corner. The fight of our lives is just beginning.”
Unlike Democrats who tapped into grass-roots fury at Trump, Trahan won with a campaign carefully crafted to appeal to moderate and independent voters in the district, which includes Lowell and Lawrence and a belt of more conservative suburbs.
She vowed, for example, to defend the Affordable Care Act and lower prescription drug prices, rather than move aggressively to enact a Medicare-for-all health care program favored by the Democratic left wing. She also resisted calls to impeach Trump, saying she would wait until Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller has completed his investigation.
“She is not from the resistance wing of the party,” said John Cluverius, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. “She is very much someone who sees government as compromising and getting things done.”
In that way, Cluverius said, Trahan followed in the Tsongas mold, “which is to say she’s a really hard worker and a reliable Democratic vote on a number of issues, but she’s not a fire-breather.”
Raised in Lowell by a father who was an ironworker and a mother who cleaned houses, Trahan has said her family instilled in her “working-class values” and a deep appreciation for the district’s former mill communities and factory towns. She attended Lowell public schools and went Georgetown on a volleyball scholarship, becoming the first in her family to go to college.
From 1995 to 2005, she was chief of staff to Martin T. Meehan, who held the seat before Tsongas and is now president of the University of Massachusetts. Most recently, she was chief executive of Concire Leadership Institute, a consulting firm.
Trahan became the Democratic nominee in dramatic fashion, barely topping a 10-person primary that was the largest field for a congressional race in Massachusetts in 20 years. After the September election ended in a razor-thin finish, a recount confirmed, nearly two weeks later, that she had won by a fraction of a percentage point, beating Dan Koh, a former chief of staff to Mayor Martin J. Walsh, by 145 votes.
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Green, the cofounder of 1A Auto, an online auto parts company, was unopposed in the GOP primary and never gained traction in the race, although he was well known in Republican circles.
In 2013, he ran for the chairmanship of the state Republican Party, losing to Kirsten Hughes. He founded the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a conservative group that has attacked Democratic state lawmakers. In 2016, he was state finance chairman for Ohio Governor John Kasich’s presidential campaign. Green later voted for — and donated to — Trump.
Green tried, during the campaign, to ignore the president and his divisive agenda, and promised to tackle local problems that transcend partisanship like crumbling roads and bridges and the opioid crisis. His focus on “fixing things instead of fighting” might have been a canny political strategy, but it was not enough to help him in a state where Trump is deeply unpopular.
Although the district has voted for Republicans in Senate and governors’ races, it has not elected a Republican to the House since 1972. And the last time any Republican won a House seat in Massachusetts was 1994, during the so-called Gingrich Revolution.
Trahan raised nearly twice as much as Green — $1.4 million to his $725,000.
In the Cape Cod-based Ninth Congressional District, Democrat William Keating appeared poised to capture a fifth term, with early returns showing him easily defeating Republican Peter Tedeschi, a former chief executive of Tedeschi Food Shops.
Early returns also showed Democrats cruising to victories in down-ballot races for statewide offices, defeating Republican challengers.
Attorney General Maura Healey won a second term, beating Jay McMahon, an attorney from Bourne. Secretary of State William F. Galvin, first elected in 1994, defeated Anthony Amore, the security chief at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Treasurer Deb Goldberg was declared the winner over Keiko Orrall, a state representative and Republican National Committeewoman. And Auditor Suzanne Bump appeared poised to defeat Helen Brady, a Boston Pops executive.