Saugus Republican wins 66 percent of Saugus vote, on top in all precincts to notch 5th term at State House
By Mark E. Vogler
Even during the final week of a campaign that he was expected to win decisively, State Rep. Donald Wong worried about the possibility of voter turnout working against him – because supporters might assume that he didn’t need the votes.
“If they already think I’m going to win, they might not show up,” the Saugus Republican told The Saugus Advocate in a preelection interview. “So, I’m need to keep campaigning so all of my supporters do show up,” Wong said.
But not even Tuesday’s torrential rain would keep voters of the Ninth Essex House District at home in parts of the three communities that Wong represents.
Wong faced two challengers this year, but won by more than 5,200 votes – a margin that was well over twice as much as what he won by two years ago when he faced one less opponent.
The campaign worrying turned out to be unnecessary as Wong swept all eight precincts in his hometown, all four in Wakefield and two in Lynn as he captured his fifth two-year term at the State House, which puts him in a position to serve in office for a decade by the time he has to prepare for his next election.
“I’m amazed at the number of people that turned out,” an elated Wong said after getting unofficial poll results showing large voter participation to go with a landslide victory.
In Saugus 11,274 of the town’s 19,051 voters – more than 59 percent – turned out, according to Town Clerk Ellen Schena. A similar percentage voted in the eight of 10 town precincts that Wong’s district represents. Unofficial results show that he took 66 percent of the vote in Saugus, beating first-time political candidate Matthew Crescenzo, 5,871 to 2,665.
Crescenzo, a U.S. Army veteran and 2011 Saugus High School graduate who ran as the Democratic candidate, finished second to Wong in Wakefield (4,046 to 2,544) and Lynn (874 to 516). Former Saugus Selectman candidate Michael A. Coller drew 728 votes overall: 343 in Saugus, 232 in Wakefield and 61 in Lynn.
Wong’s victory was even more stunning than his one two years ago when he beat Democratic challenger Jen Migliore by 2,315 votes or a 55 percent margin (12,766 to 10,451). In Saugus, Wong won by a lopsided 6,451 to 4,790 margin. He won all eight Saugus precincts and each of the four precincts in Wakefield. Migliore avoided a total shutout by beating Wong in Precincts 1 and 2 in Lynn’s Ward 1.
But this year, Wong posted an unprecedented State House election victory.
“This is the first time I’ve won Lynn,” Wong said, he celebrated with a small gathering of supporters on the second floor of his family-owned Kowloon Restaurant on Route 1. “I’m happy about that, because I also represent the working people, too,” he said.
Wong supporters began filling up the second-floor dining room soon after the polls closed at 8 p.m. It was about 9:10, more than an hour later, when the state representative and his campaign manager, Corinne Riley, began addressing the gathering.
“We had a great plan and we had a great candidate … Donald is not your average politician. I don’t even consider him one at all,” Riley said.
In reading from a five-minute speech that he had prepared, Wong thanked his family, his mother, his wife, his sons, his daughter “and all the supporters who have been there from the beginning as well as new ones who believe in me.”
“I want to thank my aide Paula and the State House staff, Brad Jones [House Minority Leader] … I’d also like to thank the other candidates that stepped up to run [in] this election,” Wong added.
“The voters have spoke, and now that the results are in, it will be my privilege to go back to the State House to advocate for Lynn, Saugus, Wakefield and the people of the 9th Essex District,” he said. “It will be my privilege to continue to advocate for our students, our youth at risk, our environment, those suffering from opioid addiction and diseases that need our help the most.”
Wong said he looks forward to working with municipal leaders in Saugus and the other communities he represents to help them in pursuit of funding support on Beacon Hill.
Though the Republicans are a minority in the State Legislature, Wong said he enjoys a close working relationship with both Gov. Charlie Baker, the Republican who was elected to his second four-year term on Tuesday – and House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “I have a very good rapport with the governor. But I also have a very good rapport with the Speaker of the House,” Wong said. “And with the Speaker, his door is always open. At all formal sessions, he is there, so we can talk to him at any time. Both of them [the governor and the speaker] have open doors. And I’m very glad that they do because we can communicate … And we’ve done a lot of things together. A couple of times in the House, I didn’t think that my communities were getting their fair share on certain things, so I went to the Minority Leader, who is Brad Jones. We talked, and in turn, we talked to the Speaker and the Ways and Means Chair. And after that talk and negotiation, I got some of the things for my district that I wanted and wasn’t in the budget at the time.”
This was the second election for Early Voting in Massachusetts, where registered voters could vote within the two weeks leading up to the election. There were 1,823 people who took advantage of early voting in Saugus during this election campaign – just under 10 percent of the registered voters, according to Town Clerk Schena.
Two years ago, during the presidential election, close to 77 percent of the town’s nearly 19,000 registered voters turned out, according to data compiled by the Town Clerk’s Office. Early voting helped to contribute to that turnout, as the total number of Saugus residents who voted early was 3,736 – which is 19.7 percent, according to Schena.
How they voted in 9th Essex House District race
Saugus precincts 1 2 4 5 6 7 8 9 TOTAL
Wong 659 633 599 881 729 839 713 818 5,871
Crescenzo 328 328 313 352 310 319 346 369 2,665
Coller 54 34 34 44 42 55 51 29 343
Wakefield precincts TOTAL (precinct breakdown unavailable)
Lynn Ward 1/Precinct 1 Ward 1 Precinct 2 TOTAL
Wong 874 819 1,693
Crescenzo 516 625 1,141
Coller 61 92 153