There was a time when the Fall River and New Bedford area felt like it was ignored by the political world. That time has passed.

The recent circumstances in the world of Massachusetts Democratic Party politics have added some heft to the votes of the people who live in southeastern Massachusetts. The congressional district that was represented by Congressman Joseph Kennedy III had a wild primary. The contest between Kennedy and Senator Ed Markey for the U.S. Senate also provided the area with more attention than usual.

While all of the candidates spent time in the area, the Kennedy campaign and the Jake Auchincloss campaign spent considerable time courting voters and community stakeholders in their effort to move up the political ladder. Both of the candidates were appreciated by the voters for their efforts and the voters delivered for them in this region of the state.

The voters have an additional bite at the apple this year in the general election as some Republicans join the electoral mix.

For the first time in a long time, the Massachusetts Republican Party has candidates in the two House seats that represent the SouthCoast region, and a U.S. Senate candidate running together. While all of them are in an uphill slog, at least the GOP is making an effort. You can't win if you don't show up to play the match.

The voters of Bristol County have been moving to the center for decades. The man most responsible for the transition is Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson. Before he was the most popular sheriff in America, he was a police officer and a New Bedford City Councilor. His election and re-election as a common-sense, law-and-order elected official broke the stranglehold Democrats had on the county.

Since Hodgson became the new sheriff in town, Charlie Baker has been elected governor twice with the votes of Bristol County. The mayor of Taunton, Shaunna O'Connell, is a Republican who earned her name as a tough on welfare cheats and tougher on crime member of the state legislature.

The Massachusetts Republican Party has to work as hard as Congressman Kennedy did in Bristol County, but the potential is there for them this year.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at chris.mccarthy@townsquaremedia.com and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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