Peabody Republican Leah Cole shocked the Massachusetts political world Tuesday night when she won election to the 12th Essex District representative seat.
This was the first run for public office by Cole, a 24-year-old nurse.
Cole, who is entirely new to politics, garnered 1,878 votes to Democrat Beverley Griffin Dunne's 1,805. Unenrolled candidate Dave Gravel took 1,655 votes. According to the City Clerk's office, total voter turnout was 20 percent.
"I'm overwhelmed, I'm so excited," Cole said after the results came in, her face beaming as her crowd of supporters inside Champions Pub cheered. "I'm so grateful for the voters of Peabody, for believing in what I was saying, my message."
Cole's campaign zeroed in on opposing Gov. Deval Patrick's proposed tax increases for the new state budget. Cole argues that working class families are paying too much as it is and can't afford another tax increase and that wasteful spending is the real problem on Beacon Hill.
Cole defeated fellow Republican Greg Bunn in the March 5 primary and raked in major campaign contributions and endorsements from Republicans and conservative advocacy groups across the state.
The 12th Essex District seat in the Mass. House of Representatives was left vacant with the death of Joyce Spiliotis in November. The district represents Ward 1 through 4 and Precinct 1 and 3 in Ward 5.