A Brandeisian in the Massachusetts Senate

Becca Rausch '01 had little campaign experience. That didn’t stop her from defeating a four-term incumbent.

Becca RauschPhoto/courtesy

Massachusetts State Senator Becca Rausch '01

To say Becca Rausch '01 didn’t have an eye toward a career in politics while she was a student at Brandeis would be an understatement.

"If someone asked me back then if I thought I would serve in the Massachusetts Senate, the same body that John Quincy Adams legislated in, I would have laughed," Rausch said. "Heartily."

But her campaign for state senate was no joke. Rausch and her team – including Brandeis classmate Jaclyn Tetenbaum-Novatt ’01 as its events coordinator -- held numerous events and knocked on thousands of doors around the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex Senate District, which spans 12 communities between Worcester and Boston and as far south as the Rhode Island border.

"When you are new on the scene, getting your name out is huge," Rausch said. “We were doing everything we could think of.”

Campaigning on positions like improving transparency and accountability, mandatory paid parental leave, and intersectional social justice reforms, Rausch fought her way through a crowded and competitive Democratic primary, securing her victory with over 50 percent of the vote.

In November’s general election, she knocked off a four-term incumbent Republican who previously served an additional three terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, winning by roughly 2,000 votes, or two percentage points. Rausch was the only Massachusetts State Senate candidate to flip a seat in the 2018 elections. She is now one of two Brandeis alumni serving in the Senate  Republican Dean Tran '97 of Fitchburg was elected in 2017.

She had no previous campaign experience before becoming an elected member of Needham's Town Meeting in 2017. After encouragement from friends, family, and community members, she decided to pursue higher office and run for the Senate seat, which had been held by Republican Richard Ross since 2010 and was previously held by Scott Brown, a Republican later elected to the U.S. Senate.

Rausch doesn’t point to any particular moment when she decided to pursue public office, but she says a pinnacle moment in her commitment to intersectional social justice happened when she was 15 and found a swastika drawn on a desk at her high school.

“I don’t want anyone to have to feel like I did in that moment,” she said.

That commitment grew at Brandeis, where she majored in American studies and completed a program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Outside the classroom, she was heavily involved in campus life in roles including community advisor, director/choreographer of B’yachad Israeli dance group, and Brandeis Hillel executive board member.

“At Brandeis, I came to understand issues of systemic challenges and injustices in a completely new way," Rausch said. “I had conversations with people with different perspectives and life experiences than mine. I learned about intersectionality and the law. The relationships I built at Brandeis played a significant role in my becoming the person, parent, and legislator I am now. I am both grateful and lucky to maintain those relationships to this day."

While new to elected politics, Rausch is no stranger to public service. She previously served as a union steward and was the first-ever Electronic Discovery Attorney for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, a position from which she had to take a 13-month leave of absence in order to run for the Senate seat. She said her immediate focal points in office will be election reforms and other aspects of good governance and democracy, reproductive health and justice, and intersectional civil rights and equality. She was sworn into office in a ceremony at the State House on Jan. 2.

“I knew I had more to give, and I knew my district needed my leadership and meaningful engagement. I wanted to put my skills and experience, combined with my lifelong dedication to progressive values, to work improving people's lives throughout our communities and our Commonwealth,” she said. “I ran to make a difference, to give voice to people previously unheard, and to change the conversation.”

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