Today is Primary Day in Massachusetts and in the Pioneer Valley that actual means choices instead of mere formality. From US House races to the DA's race to numerous contests for seats on Beacon Hill, the 2010 election has attracted significant interest among many in both parties. Today, WMassP&I offers its endorsements for some, but not all contests. Some of the races in which we shall forgo judgment is due to a number of factors, including a lack of knowledge about the candidates, vapidity in the race, or simply a lack of interest on our part. A word on the races themselves, excluding obvious races like DA or Congress, the actual state Senate and House districts will be named by their technical names, but few voters actual know these technical terms. Tools presently available on the Secretary of the Commonwealth's website and continuing improvements on the Massachusetts'General Court's website make defining districts by location easier.
Republican Nomination for the 2nd Massachusetts Congressional District.
Originally, we were reluctant to issue judgment on who should win the Republican nomination for this contest. However, after careful consideration, since it should be a surprise to no one where we will land in the general, it would be in the interests of argument to support the candidate who will offer a more substantive debate. That substantive debate, in our view, will firm up our reasoning for making the endorsement in the general. For those reasons, WMassP&I endorses Dr. Jay Fleitman for the Republican nominations. Despite the rarity of any opponent of any party going up against Congressman Richard Neal, this race has gotten but the sparest notice in the media. What has been gleaned, from the Reminder, the Republican's voter guide, Maureen Turner's "On Springfield" and Tommy Devine's blog is that there is a difference in tone between Fleitman and his opponent Tom Wesley. Both more or less hold themselves as the anti-Neal, but Wesley's campaign holds onto this such as to turn into offense. His "Repeal Neal" slogan may be melodious, but it suggests that all he can hold out is the same empty claims that several Republican across the country are making about returning power to the people, a form of vacuous sloganeering as old as American elections themselves. On Springfield quotes Wesley as opposing a single payer health system, the implication being that Neal and Democrats more generally have passed such a thing. They have not. Republicans may have valid arguments against the universal health care, but few if any serious contenders make the claim that Wesley has. Taken together with his personalization of the race with Neal and the assertion that his military service implies anything beyond the sacrifice that it is, Wesley has disqualified himself from offering anything substantive in his campaign. Fleitman, by contrast can offer the professional opinion of a doctor, and not merely an ideologue. While it is the opinion of WMassP&I that Neal remains best suited for the job, we look forward to a sincere and substantive debate.
Hampden Senate District Democratic Primary
The decision of Stephen Buoniconti to run for district attorney left his seat up for grabs and three candidates have leaped at the chance to snag this gem of a seat, which includes Agawam, West Springfield, snippets of Chicopee, and Springfield's western regions notably Forest Park, but also many of its poorest areas. Among the Democrats is Buoniconti protege Jim Welch, who filled Buoniconti's seat when the latter ran for state Senate six years ago; Susan Dawson, the former mayor of Agawam, best known for getting into a scuffle at Max's Tavern at the Hall of Fame, but regarded as an effective administrator, and Robert Patenaude, an official for the UAW. At first glance, Patenaude appeared interesting as a member of a largely private sector union for not having any baggage like Welch and Dawson. However, sadly, though not surprisingly, the UAW represents few private sector employees indeed many are students at UMASS. While avoiding judgment on public sector or scholastic unionization, Patenaude's credentials to improve labor conditions for the private sector are totally undermined. This leaves Welch and Dawson, both of whom this blog could effectively serve the district. WMassP&I leans toward Ms. Dawson for the following reason, however. As Tommy Devine points out in his endorsements, Welch has done little to particularly distinguish himself even among the Western Mass delegation in general. While he has not come under any scrutiny as his predecessor has of late, a rough analysis of Welch's campaign receipts just from January 1, shows a glut of special interest money and donations from other candidates campaign accounts, most notably one from Thomas Petrolati, who has come under heavy scrutiny in the past year. Dawon's personal life is not at issue, and if she was a superior administrator to Cohen, the man she both defeated and later was defeated by, it is a shame she lost her election last year. There is a broader point, too. Before Buoniconti, Linda Melconian, a Springfield resident, held the seat for several years. While, political corruption notwithstanding, Springfield is best represented by one of its own residents, there is value is having a circuit of candidates from the varied communities represented in a given district. It keeps the seat from being overly provincial and its power entrenched in one community over another. Welch is from West Springfield and his election could provide a monopoly over the seat for Westside. Dawson is from Agawam, which has of late not had one of its own in the Senate. For these reasons, we endorse Susan Dawson.
Second Hampden Republican Race.
Unsurprisingly, there is great interest in the Republican race for this Longmeadow-centric district, which actual extends to Hampden, Monson and pockets of Springfield and East Longmeadow. Traditionally a GOP House seat, Democrat Brian Ashe won in 2008 in the Democratic surge of the year. Longmeadow lawyer Marie Angelides and East Longmeadow's Jack Villamaino (and former aide to Brian Lees) are vying for the Republican nod. While Villamiano's experience on Beacon Hill carries some weight, WMassP&I is intrigued by the interest of newcomer Angelides. A Valley residents for much of her life and immigration lawyer, perhaps as a Republican she could offer a more tempered approach to local controversy over illegal immigration than many on the right are inclined to offer. We endorse Marie Angelides for Second Hampden.
Ninth Hampden Democratic Race:
The gall with which former representative Chris Asselin has returned to the political scene should shock and disgust even Springfield's jaded voters. In 2004, amidst pending charges for public corruption, Asselin lost mightily to current incumbent Sean Curran. After being released from the hospitality of the Bureau of Prisons, Asselin announced his return to politics. Even in a year where people are repulsed by incumbents, it seems unlikely that voters in the ninth Hampden (a largely Springfield district with a precinct or two in Chicopee) would fall for his act of contrition. The district includes Six Acres and parts of Pine Point and East Springfield, largely rank and file residents who exist at best partly in the hands of the machine. Most of just everyday folks unlikely to forgive so easily. Nonetheless, taking no chances, we endorse Sean Curran.
Treasurer Democratic Race:
Sadly, we are not sufficiently informed on this race, but it is an important one as the winner of this race will go against Republican Karyn Polito to succeed Tim Cahill. Still, we endorse Steve Grossman. Active in state and national politics for some time, including a stint as National Party Chair, he has the experience in public service that is requisite for what is in effect a job more of bureaucracy than of politics (even though every is political on Beacon Hill). Vote Steve Grossman.
(All photos from candidate's campaign, legislative, or facebook pages)
(All photos from candidate's campaign, legislative, or facebook pages)