After 10 years in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich) has decided not to seek another term as the representative from the 5th Barnstable District.
The five-term Republican’s current term ends in January 2021.
The district includes three precincts in Bourne, as well as all of Sandwich and precincts in Barnstable and Plymouth.
“I’ve had a pretty good run,” Mr. Hunt said.
He said he decided not to run about three months ago. He said that several factors played into his decision.
Mr. Hunt said it had never been his intention to make politics a career. Stepping down will allow him to focus on his accounting practice, which “has been at half-mast” while he has been in office, he said. It will also allow him to spend more time with his 13 grandchildren, he said.
He also felt that the time was right to welcome someone with new, fresh ideas. Announcing now would provide that person with time to raise campaign funds.
“It just felt like the 10 years I have served was the right amount of time,” he said. “It was kind of a gut feeling.”
His primary motivation in not running again, however, has to do with the current political climate in the country.
He said that he is bothered by “a loss of civil discourse in the public arena about political things.”
Without blaming one party or the other, Mr. Hunt said there is an “ugliness in the way we treat each other that’s been driven down to our own personal discussions.”
“That part of it I would say is kind of discouraging to me, and I hope we can find a way to be more civilized,” he said.
He said it has never been his style to be particularly partisan, and that he has been more even-handed in his political dealings. That balanced style led the Bourne Republican Town Committee to back County Commissioner Ronald R. Beaty Jr. over Mr. Hunt in last September’s state primaries.
At that time, Republican committee chairman Peter Fisher said his group preferred Mr. Beaty because he was “kind of like Trump.”
Despite the lack of support by the Bourne committee, Mr. Hunt overwhelmingly defeated Mr. Beaty in the state’s GOP primary. Bourne voters turned out in force for him, giving him 535 votes, while Mr. Beaty received 214 votes.
Mr. Beaty, asked if he will be running for the 5th Barnstable District seat, said, “I’m kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place,” since he will be up for reelection as a Barnstable County Commissioner in 2020 and cannot run for both offices during the same election.
At this time, Mr. Beaty said, he plans to run for the county position rather than the State House position.
Mr. Hunt acknowledged that the atmosphere in the Massachusetts Legislature is not as bad as what is currently on display in the national legislature in Washington, DC. He said that he also looked at what is likely to be the character of the 2020 presidential race, and what he anticipates is “not appetizing.”
“If we continue to just talk at each other, where every item is black or white and there is no nuance, then I’m afraid we’re not going to be too successful at getting things done. That’s what’s happening in Washington,” he said.
With no incumbent seeking reelection, Democrats will be seeking to take Mr. Hunt’s seat in 2020.
Matthew Cubetus, co-chairman of the Sandwich Democratic Town Committee, said that winning the seat poses an “uphill battle for us,” but that Mr. Hunt’s choice not to seek another term “gives us a better shot.”
Mr. Cubetus said he expects several Democrats to be in the primary for the 5th Barnstable District seat, although it is still too early to know for sure who will toss their hat in the ring.
One possible name raised by Mr. Cubetus was Jack Stanton, the Democratic challenger who lost to Mr. Hunt in 2018.
Mr. Stanton could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Cubetus described Mr. Hunt as “very well-liked around town.” Without Mr. Hunt running in the 2020 election, he said, the contest for a seat in the State House will feature “at least two people running who really have to establish themselves.”
Mr. Hunt was appointed to the Sandwich Town Finance Committee in 2001. From 2003 to 2011, he served as a member of the town’s board of selectmen. In 2011, he began his 10 years as a state representative, succeeding Jeffrey D. Perry, who chose not to run for reelection and lost in a Congressional race against William R. Keating (D-Bourne).
In his time with the state Legislature, Mr. Hunt has been a member of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Energy and Utilities; the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing; the Joint Committee on Transportation; the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs; and the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use, and Recovery.
Mr. Hunt refrained from commenting on his time in the state Legislature and his accomplishments. He said he still has time left and there is still work to be done.
“The best stuff may yet to be accomplished,” he said.