The Massachusetts primary had some shocking results and may hold some lessons for others looking to seek elected office.

The candidates that seemed the most authentic and genuine to their base received a big return at the ballot box.

Attorney Chris Hendricks defeated State Rep. Robert Koczera in the Democrat primary. The upset was stunning, as Koczera has been in elected office since President Ronald Reagan, and he had successfully defended his record against strong candidates in the primaries previously. This was Hendricks' first run for office.

Hendricks was honest and forthright about his battles with alcoholism, and laid out the ups and downs of his drinking life in detail. Rather than try to hide his past, he used it as a positive, and pointed to it as an example of why he would be so dedicated to helping to manage the current opioid plague going on in Massachusetts. Addiction and substance abuse is something everyone is familiar with, in various degrees, and Hendricks' genuineness came through to voters.

Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley toppled Congressman Michael Capuano in the primary. He had held the seat for 20 years, and she is now the first African American woman elected to Congress by Massachusetts voters. She also used the struggles in her life as a strength, and as a way to connect to the voters.

Contrast those wins with the losing campaign of Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim. He tried to become the Secretary of the Commonwealth by attacking William Galvin on issues like the death penalty and abortion. The job of the Secretary has nothing to do with either of those hot-button issues. One big aspect of that job is managing elections, and we learned Zakim had neglected to vote in lots of elections. Galvin crushed Zakim in the primary.

But the biggest lesson is you can't win if you don't run. There are all kinds of elected officials and wannabe elected officials kicking themselves today that they didn't take a shot at an incumbent yesterday. And I suspect it was a wake-up call to Sen. Edward Markey, too.

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 and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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