Split Panel Recommends Seating Kassner Over Mirra in Disputed House Race; Vote Wednesday

Five-term Republican Rep. Lenny Mirra of Georgetown, left, joined by former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, right, addresses lawmakers at a special committee hearing Friday examining his one-vote loss following a district-wide recount. (Chris Lisinski/SHNS.)

The two Democrats on a three-member special House committee concluded the chamber should officially seat Kristin Kassner, a Hamilton Democrat who topped five-term Republican Rep. Lenny Mirra by a single vote in a contested recount.

Reps. Michael Day of Stoneham and Daniel Ryan of Charlestown submitted a majority report to the House clerk’s office recommending Kassner be declared “the properly elected and qualified representative for the 2nd Essex District,” a move that would allow her to join the House nearly a month after the two-year term began and would spell the end of Mirra’s decade-long tenure.

The pair of Democrats said they believe their House panel “is not a proper forum for calling balls and strikes on challenges to the determination of the intent of individual voters.” “Allowing such redress runs contrary to our system of government and its attendant commitment to timely election results,” they wrote in the committee’s report, adding, “Furthermore, a majority of the Special Committee finds that examining individual ballots in this case unnecessarily opens the door for potential future mischief from unscrupulous candidates seeking to impugn the integrity of the Commonwealth’s election.”

The full House is scheduled to vote on the recommendation Wednesday.

Mirra filed a lawsuit challenging some ballots after the Governor’s Council certified the recount results. Under state law and judicial precedent, final authority over seating representatives rests with the House. House Minority Leader Brad Jones, the lone Republican on the special panel, disagreed with that recommendation and argued that the committee “was presented with evidence that is insufficient to make such a determination without further examination.” Jones penned a minority report, attached as an appendix to Day and Ryan’s findings, calling for the special committee to examine individual ballots Mirra challenged.

Chris Lisinski, State House News Service.

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