Barbara Van Reed
Conventional wisdom says that local political campaigning doesn’t begin in earnest until after Labor Day. But while it may not have been in high gear so far, there has been plenty of campaigning going on.
The primary election was last Thursday, rather than on the usual Tuesday, which could have thrown some people off, but voter turnout was expected to be low in any case-- as there were very few contests in the local primaries (The only contests are on the Democratic side, where incumbent Congressman Richard E. Neal was challenged in the newly drawn First Congressional District and incumbent James B. McGovern in the new Second Congressional District. On the Republican side, there was not a single challenger for any position. While Republicans could vote to show support for their candidates, they did not have any choices to make).
While local candidates for state representative did not have any challengers in the primaries, they do in the November election, and they've been campaigning hard.
In a change for local towns, candidates for state representative and US Congress will be different for Dudley than for Webster and Oxford. State and federal redistricting last year means that Dudley is now part of the 6th Worcester District, where Republican Peter J. Durant (R-Spencer) is being challenged by Democrat Kathleen Walker. The district also includes two precincts in Charlton, one in Spencer, and all of Southbridge.
Webster and two precincts in Oxford stay in the new 18th Worcester District, which now includes Douglas and Sutton. Republican Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton) and Democrat Donald Bourque are vying for that position.
None of the candidates for state representative have a challenger of their own party in the primaries.
But there will be actual contests in these towns in November, and the candidates have been actively campaigning right along. The incumbents, Peter Durant and Ryan Fattman, have been working the new towns since the day the redistricting was announced last October, even though it will not go into effect until after the November election, in January 2013. Neither has missed a beat making appearances in Dudley and Webster and familiarizing themselves with town parties, officials, and residents. One Webster resident told me last week that Ryan Fattman has been to his house three times.
Mr. Fattman’s Democratic challenger, Don Bourque, who is chairman of the Webster Board of Selectmen, made campaign headlines last week because he sponsored an Emergency Appreciation Day at the 200 Sportsmen Club for fire department personnel in the district last month. It seems Republicans were unhappy with that gesture, and brought it to the attention of the Oxford and Douglas selectmen, who then summoned their fire chiefs to explain their departments’ participation.
We are not going to take a position as to whether the event was appropriate or not, but it does seem to be an issue of party politics. Mr. Bourque said the event was not a fundraiser, and there was no intention to mislead anyone as to its nature. It was clearly stated in the invitation that the Committee to Elect Don Bourque was the host. “This thing cost me $900, $300 to rent the Sportsmen’s Club and $600 for food. And you can publish that,” he told us.
For state senate, Richard T. Moore will continue to represent all three towns. He has no challengers in the primary, and there are no Republicans running for the position.
Moving back to the federal side, Dudley is now part of the First Congressional District, while Webster and Oxford are in the Second. Democrat Richard E. Neal (D-Springfield) will continue to represent Dudley if he is wins the primary tomorrow, in which he has two challengers. There is no Republican on the primary ballot, so whoever wins the primary will win the election.
Webster and Dudley remain part of the Second Congressional District, in which Democrat James B. McGovern is the incumbent. He is being challenged in the Democratic primary by William Feegbeh.There is no Republican on the primary ballot. Again, whoever wins the primary will be the winner.
On the face of it, it would seem Mr. McGovern wouldn’t have to worry too much about his challenger. Mr. Feegbeh is a relative unknown who has never been elected to public office, has no staff, and no funding. In an interview with Mr. Feegbeh in July, we wrote that he has a sincere interest in politics and concern for educational and housing opportunities, but little in the way of demonstrated ability to effect change.
Mr. McGovern is campaigning, nevertheless. He has made 175 stops in the new district to get to know it, visiting Webster in April and Oxford just last month.
Mr. McGovern is running for his ninth term in Congress. He is the second-ranking member on the House Rules Committee and a member of the House Agricultural committee. He recently sponsored a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, which has allowed huge inflows of corporate money to sway elections.
Former state senator Louis Bertonazzi has challenged voters to turn out and demonstrate that their community votes. Last week's primary had its somewhat predictable results, but there's much more to vote for in November.
- Wednesday, 05 September 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Letter From the Editor