Runner-up in 8th Essex District race concedes to Jenny Armini

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Swampscott resident Tristan Smith conceded the 8th Essex District primary contest to Marblehead resident Jenny Armini late Wednesday morning.

Armini bested Smith, a teacher and coach, on a 348-vote margin, capturing 2,303 votes out of the 8,305 cast across the district, or 27.73 percent, to his 1,983.

Smith and Armini spoke on Tuesday night around 9:30 p.m., but Smith did not concede until the next day.

“I was getting so many numbers from so many sources,” Smith told the Marblehead News. “I just didn’t want to make a call and then walk it back.”

Smith’s second-place finish impressed many in the 8th Essex District. If the Swampscott vote determined the contest, he would have won by a 509-vote margin between himself and fellow Swampscott resident Douglas Thompson.

“I think a lot of it was just being a hometown kid,” he said of his Swampscott success. “Teaching in the schools definitely helped you get to know the kids, then you get to know the parents and just other community members, even even if they’re not involved with the schools.”

Armini, who is expected to win in November, is poised to extend Marblehead’s decades-long monopoly on the 8th Essex seat, following not only former state rep. Lori Ehrlich but her predecessor, Douglas W. Petersen; and his predecessor, Larry Alexander.

On the campaign trail, Smith, 25, framed himself as a new generation of young progressive leadership. With relatively little professional experience in politics, the political newcomer asked voters to put their trust and faith in him.

“I am proud of the race we ran, and the way you—the voters and volunteers, shared my message with passion and purpose,” Smith wrote on Tuesday over Facebook. “To all the young people who joined our team and experienced democracy in action, I hope you continue speaking up for what you believe in.”

Smith, the son of a former state representative and lobbyist, benefited from high-profile endorsements from former Congressmen Barney Frank and John Tierney and Sen. Edward Markey.

Smith transitioned to campaign mode immediately after graduating from law school. What about Smith’s future, next moves?

“The bar was supposed to be this summer, but I put it off to run for the seat. The next time the bar is offered is in February. We’ll see about that,” he said. “All I know right now is I have cross-country practice today at 3 p.m.”

He added, “I’m looking forward to seeing the kids.”

Kris Olson contributed reporting.

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