PEABODY — If the race between longtime state Rep. Ted Speliotis (D-Danvers) and Republican challenger Mark Mezzina was decided on fundraising alone, the 65-year-old incumbent would be returned to Beacon Hill in November.
Speliotis, who was 24 when he joined the Legislature in 1979, has spent nearly 30 years on Beacon Hill and is seeking reelection.
But political observers say 25-year-old Mezzina of Danvers is mounting a spirited campaign to unseat him.
As of mid-August, the most recent report available from the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance, the Democratic lawmaker whose 13th Essex District includes Danvers, West Peabody, and portions of Middleton, raised $23,560 over nearly eight months. Mezzina was a distant second with $11,705.
The report, required by the state, revealed Speliotis had $8,022 at the start of the year, and ended the reporting period with $31,582.
About $4,000 of the contributions came from lobbyists including ML Strategies and the Suffolk Group.
Speliotis spent $16,660 through mid August, including $1,272 to cater a fundraiser at the Gourmet Mandarin, $2,220 at Connolly Printing, and a $4,300 contribution to the Committee for a Democratic House Political Action Committee.
Mezzina, an appliance salesman, started the election year with $9,224 in the bank and his fundraising efforts brought the total to $20,929. He spent $11,729, including $3,080 to Thriftco Printing for signs and $6,700 to the Massachusetts Republican Party for campaign services.
Mezzina said he is running because it’s time for new leadership and said he favors term limits. He has accused Speliotis of failing to represent the blue collar communities on the North Shore and pointed to his vote to raise salaries for lawmakers, while supporting a hike in the gas, sales, and tech taxes. Speliotis’ salary went from $67,500 plus $4,000 in expenses to $107,000.
Speliotis said he’s been a tireless advocate for the district. He cited construction of the $130 million Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical High School, the $30 million Allied Health Nursing School at the North Shore Community College, and a program for Peabody high schoolers to grow the number of students taking advanced placement courses, as his accomplishments.