Spellane re-elected

Rep. defeats sticker candidate
By Pamela H. Sacks

TELEGRAM & GAZETTE

2008

State Rep. Robert P. Spellane prevailed over a strong challenge by sticker candidate John J. Mahoney in the race for the 13th Worcester District.
Mr. Spellane, a Democrat, won re-election to a fifth term after receiving 7,786 votes in Worcester compared to 4,902 for Mahoney, or 63 percent to 37 percent.
The district includes parts of Worcester’s West Side and the town of Paxton. In Paxton, Mr. Spellane captured 1,157 votes. The vote total for Mr. Mahoney in Paxton could not be determined last night, but 804 write-in votes were cast in town.
Mr. Mahoney mounted a last-minute campaign, in the aftermath of a Sunday Telegram story alleging conflict of interest and questionable financial dealings connected with a bank loan and personal use of campaign funds by Spellane.
Mr. Spellane said he was grateful for his victory at the polls.
“It’s been a challenging couple of weeks,” he said last night. “I’m happy folks took a look at my record on the issues and my impact on the community and were able to set aside my personal challenges. I’ll start rebuilding the trust folks may have lost over the last few weeks. I hope I can grow as a legislator through this experience and look forward to being a better legislator.”
Mr. Mahoney, 43, also a Democrat, quickly put together a vocal campaign that touted integrity and adopted the slogan “Enough is enough!”
Mr. Spellane, 38, asked voters to “separate private issues in my personal life from my business life.” In a mailing to residents, he enumerated his accomplishments on the state and local levels.
Mr. Mahoney announced his candidacy Oct. 20, as did William A. Trotta of Paxton, a Worcester police lieutenant. Within five days they had decided the challenge would be more likely to succeed if they joined forces. Mr. Trotta withdrew and threw his support to Mr. Mahoney.
Mr. Mahoney, the proprietor of Mahoney’s Pub and a sales and marketing director for Advanced Cleaning and Restoration of Worcester, had just 10 days to make his case. His supporters held signs at street corners, staffed phone banks and mailed stickers to district residents. Campaign workers stood by at every precinct ready to hand out stickers. Mr. Mahoney said last night he was gratified at the support he received from constituents all day long as he traveled from one polling place to another.
“People were thanking us for running,” Mr. Mahoney said. “I think a lot of people supported Bob when he first began, but he’s lost his way. You can see that a lot of people had had enough.”
Last year, Mr. Spellane paid a $10,000 fine and reimbursed $32,500 to the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance after an audit determined he had diverted $50,000 from his campaign account for personal use between 2004 and 2006. Last week he repaid his campaign committee $1,608 for personal use of his sport utility vehicle.
Daniel J. Gale, 29, of Worcester, a budget analyst, backed Mr. Spellane.
“It’s a private issue,” he said of the legislator’s problems. “His stands on the issues are strong. He’s always looking out for his constituents and that’s separate from his personal matter.”
Lynne M. Tonna, of Worcester, had a different view.
“While I think Spellane has been very effective and a good representative, the accounting practices bother me,” said Mrs. Tonna, after voting at Assumption College. “If he can’t manage his own finances, how can be manage our tax dollars? Bob Spellane is a nice guy, but there’s disappointment. People feel really troubled about what happened.”