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Hayden declares victory in district attorney race

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
Hayden declares victory in district attorney race
Interim District Attorney Kevin Hayden savors victory with his sister, Karen McAdams. Banner photo

Interim Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden declared victory last Tuesday evening after the Associated Press projected a win for his campaign. Arroyo conceded later in the evening, as mail-in ballots were counted.

“It has been quite and adventure, but we did it,” Hayden told supporters gathered at the SoWa Power Station in the South End, before thanking God for his victory. “Despite every attack of the enemy, despite every adversary, despite every pitfall, despite everything that we went through to get here, He brought us through,” Hayden said.

In the final count, Hayden won with 54% of the 76,002 votes cast. The 7,336 blank votes in the race accounted for more than 1 in 10 ballots cast in Suffolk County.

The race was considered by many to be among the most contentious in recent history. The Boston Globe ran a series of articles early in August alleging Hayden solicited a campaign donation from an attorney after his office reportedly informed the attorney that he would not pursue charges against his client, an MBTA officer who allegedly pulled a gun on a motorist after an apparent traffic dispute.

Later in August, the Globe ran a series of articles alleging Arroyo was investigated for two allegations of sexual assault — one in 2005, when Arroyo was 16, and another in 2007. Although the allegations in the 2005 case were found to be “unfounded” by police, and the woman in the 2007 case said, through a lawyer, that she repeatedly told the Globe Arroyo had nothing to do with her assault, the allegations caused several high-profile elected officials to pull their endorsements for his campaign.

Arroyo told supporters the allegations were difficult for many of his supporters to hear.

“A lot of folks I love and care about were harmed by that, they were triggered by that, they were thinking about things that had happened to themselves,” he said.

Arroyo was accompanied on election night by supporters including Boston City Councilor Kendra Lara and Chelsea City Councilor Damali Vidot.

At Hayden’s celebration, the candidate was accompanied by City Councilors Frank Baker and Erin Murphy, state Sens. Nick Collins and Lydia Edwards, and state Rep. Chynah Tyler.

The votes

While the Boston Election Department’s official vote tallies are not yet in, tallies garnered by local political activists show Arroyo racked up victories in majority Black and Latino wards and precincts in Boston, while Hayden won traditionally white precincts by a wider margin. In one of the most lopsided results, Hayden secured 399 votes to Arroyo’s 41 in Ward 16, Precinct 12 — a precinct with a high percentage of police officers that has long served as a bellwether for the city’s white conservative vote. Arroyo won Ward 14, a Dorchester ward with a high concentration of African American voters with 1,256 votes to Hayden’s 1,017.

But in West Roxbury’s Ward 20, which has traditionally delivered for more conservative candidates, Hayden garnered 3,819 votes to Arroyo’s 1,892.

Ed Cook, president of the Dorchester-based Ward 15 Democratic Committee, which endorsed Hayden, said the articles about Hayden and Arroyo put a negative spin on the race.

“I think people at the end were just throwing up their hands,” he said.

Arroyo won Ward 15 with 611 votes to Hayden’s 581.

In Jamaica Plain, where Arroyo won in Wards 11 and 19, voters were similarly dispirited.

“It didn’t feel like 2018, let’s put it that way,” said Jamaica Plain Progressives co-Chair Annie Rousseau, pointing to the election four years ago that put Rachael Rollins in the Suffolk District Attorney office and made former City Councilor Ayanna Pressley a U.S. congresswoman.

“I think the fact that the number of blanks in the race was greater than Hayden’s margin of victory says a lot,” Rousseau added.