BOSTON — With his legal challenges largely exhausted, Republican Lenny Mirra hopes a legislative panel reviewing the razor-thin results of a recount in the 2nd Essex House District race will hold a special election to determine the winner.

In the Nov. 8 elections, Mirra won the race for the newly reconfigured district by 10 votes, but a recount flipped the district to South Hamilton Democrat Kristin Kassner by a single vote.

Mirra contested the results in court, but the legal challenge has so far been unsuccessful. He was dealt another blow after the state Supreme Judicial Court denied Mirra’s motion to set aside a lower court’s ruling that declined to take up his challenge, citing a lack of jurisdiction.

The results of the 2nd Essex recount — and another close House race — are being reviewed by the Special Committee to Examine the Returns, which has final say over the results. Mirra said he expects the panel’s review to certify the results in his favor, or call a special election.

“When this committee meets, they’re going to see all the serious errors in the recount and problems with mailed ballots,” he said. “It’s going to be really embarrassing for the people who’ve been calling this a stolen election.”

Mirra said there is a recent precedent for calling a special election in a 2011 race to fill a House seat left vacant when former Rep. Peter Koutoujian was appointed Middlesex County sheriff ended in a tie.

Both sides went to court to challenge the outcome of the race between Democratic incumbent Rep. Geraldo Alicea of Charlton and GOP challenger Peter Durant of Spencer, but the House and a state judge ordered a special election. Durant won by about 50 votes.

House Speaker Ron Mariano, D-Quincy, announced last week that he would “temporarily delay” Kassner’s swearing in while the three-member committee can “thoroughly review the last minute legal issues raised in each race, and affirm the results of each election.”

But the panel is allowing Mirra continue to represent the district until a final determination is made about the race’s winner, which is permitted under the state constitution.

The review will likely prolong the uncertainty about who will be the next representative to serve the newly redrawn North Shore legislative district, which includes Hamilton, Rowley, Newbury, Georgetown, Ipswich and Topsfield.

Mariano hasn’t set a deadline for the legislative committee — which includes two Democrats and one Republican — to wrap up its review.

Besides the 2nd Essex, Mariano also delayed the swearing-in of Democrat Margaret Scarsdale, who also won her race after a recount in the 1st Middlesex District.

Her opponent, Republican Andrew Shepherd, is also challenging the outcome. Scarsdale won a recount in the House race by only seven votes.

Meanwhile, pressure is growing from Democrats on House leaders to certify the results of the recount in Kassner’s favor.

In a letter to Mariano, members of the Georgetown Democratic Town Committee said allowing Mirra to remain in the seat during the review “despite the outcome of the recount and judgment of the courts” draws the accountability of the state’s election system into question.

The Democrats urged the legislative panel to wrap up its work quickly, so Kassner can “can get to the business of filing bills and representing the 2nd Essex district.”

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at cwade@cnhinews.com.

Trending Video

Recommended for you