U.S. Senate Candidate Brian Herr Fighting for Name Recognition
By Andy McKeever iBerkshires Staff
Brian Herr, on the left, met with Republicans at Pittsfield campaign headquarters Thursday morning.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Brian Herr says U.S. Senator Edward Markey is disrespecting voters by dodging the campaign.
The Republican Herr is challenging Markey for the seat but the incumbent has done little to no campaigning. Only one debate between the two candidates has been held and the race has seen little interest across the state.
Herr says Markey's lack of a campaign is disrespectful because it doesn't give Massachusetts voters an opportunity to make up their minds. Markey's avoidance has also made it tougher for Herr to gain name recognition because of the overall lack of interest in the Senate campaign.
"Sen. Markey's strategy is to not campaign. Sen. Markey refused to debate us again. He refuses to come and do things like this. He hasn't traveled across the state extensively and meeting voters one on one. The strategy is to keep this race as low profile as possible," Herr said on Thursday during a campaign stop to Pittsfield.
"If he doesn't campaign a lot of people in the media — in Boston in particular — don't cover the campaign. If they don't cover him, they don't cover the campaign, they don't cover us."
He said the lack of energy Markey is putting into the campaign is "undemocratic." Meanwhile, the race for governor has been stealing the spotlight across the state.
"If Sen. Markey really wanted to talk to the voters of Massachusetts, he would have done so. His decision not to do that is a disservice to the people," Herr said.
The Malden Democrat and former U.S. representative won the Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013; this is his first run for a full term. Markey has not campaigned in the Berkshires this election but Thursday was Herr's second visit.
With less than two weeks remaining, the Hopkinton Republican is ramping up efforts to be heard. He'll be launching a series of advertisements to show the contrast between him and Markey.
"We also knew it would be a two-week race and we are in the middle of that two-week furor," Herr said.
He'll need a strong effort as most of the polls show Markey winning the election easily. And he is still challenging Markey for more debates after being rebuffed in his request for them to meet in debates across the state.
"We'd do whatever it takes to go in front of the voters and compare and contrast the two candidates," Herr said.
Despite trailing, Herr said he believes he can win the election. He says there is a huge group of undecided voters that he hopes to get on his side at the Nov. 4 election.
"We are stuck politically and as a result our economy continues to sputter. People in Massachusetts want new ideas. They want new blood. They want new energy," Herr said.
He says his 30 years in the private sector mixed with years of being active in politics creates a "good mix" for the seat. He previously ran for U.S. Senate in 2010. For more information on Herr, click here.
"We can definitely get this done even though it is a quiet race. I don't care if I am the least known Senator in American history. It doesn't matter to me. It is about Massachusetts," Herr said.
He added that in the last few weeks fund raising has ramped up after a "difficult" start to the campaign.
Brian Herr says he'll represent the people of Massachusetts, not the party that put him on the ballot. His campaign site is here.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In 2010, Brian Herr said what he was supposed to say. He did what he was told to do.
But, he still lost the race for U.S. Senate.
This time, Herr isn't going to let the political insiders and strategists run his campaign.
"When you declare and you are reasonably viable and credible as a candidate for U.S. Congress, a lot of people put their fingers into your campaign, in you. They try to control you and mold you and they try to steer you," Herr said.
"I let some of that go on in 2010 and I shouldn't have."
The Hopkinton Republican says he learned a valuable lesson as he again vies for a seat in Congress.
Herr is challenging Democrat Edward Markey, who won the U.S. Senate seat in a special election last year to replace now Secretary of State John Kerry.
"I learned what to do. I learned what not to do and we're applying those lessons to this race," Herr told the Berkshire County Republicans on Tuesday.
Herr says he'll be speaking from his own experience and beliefs as he builds a campaign. He says there is a new way to govern and he is the leader to do it.
"A lot of people in politics today will just tell you what is wrong with the other side. They'll complain and they'll always be looking in the rearview mirror," Herr said.
As a selectman in Hopkinton, Herr said his board implemented new rules when the town faced financial troubles. A hiring freeze put in place and a new procedure forcing department heads to justify their funding was put in place. That focus on not taxing the citizens turned into excess levy capacity, leading to an underride this past spring when voters reduced Hopkinton's levy capacity by $1.25 million.
As the economy turned around, Herr said there was a need for more firefighters, an increase in service voters were more willing to provide.
"I believe in government but only when it is managed well," Herr said.
It is that type of "running government like a business" that Herr says he'll bring to Washington, D.C. He has spent nearly 30 years in the private sector focused mostly on commercial construction. Most recently, he is an account executive at WESCO Distribution, a company supplying industrial electronics.
"I get the real world we are all in. I get what it is like to pay people. I know what it is like to hire," Herr said. "Jobs come from understanding the private sector."
The University of Pittsburgh graduate moved the Massachusetts after college to work at Westinghouse. He has a wife and five kids and is serving his second term as a Hopkinton selectman.
"We have partisan elections by law. So the three times I've been elected, it said Brian Herr and Republican next to my name. I've always run as a Republican in a small town here in Massachusetts and I've won. I've won by building a coalition of voters in the community," Herr said.
"You have to build a coalition to win. I've had success doing that and that's what I am doing in this campaign for U.S. Senate."
That strategy has given him optimism in this campaign. However, he has so far flown under the radar in the political sphere. Some reports say he lacks the signatures to get on the ballot. Herr says that is exactly how he wants it.
"We are the raging underdog. I get it, but I am not crazy. We can win it. We are building a foundation, an organization, a brand that post-Labor Day, we will catch fire," Herr said. "Don't worry about the fact that you've never heard my name. Don't panic. Don't think there is no chance because there is."
When the campaign does "catch fire" Herr told his fellow Republicans that even they won't like what he has to say all of the time. That is because he isn't following the party lines like he did before.
"When you hear my name and see reports in the media, you will scratch your head a couple of times and think 'why would he say that, that's not what I think. That is not necessarily how I feel.' It is what I believe as a person and not because there is someone telling me what to say," Herr said.
Herr met with local Republicans at Zucco's Restaurant in Pittsfield on Tuesday.
And that is also how Herr says he'll represent the people of Massachusetts.
"I don't believe in harsh partisan squabbles. I don't believe in behaving like a 2-year old. I don't blame the other side," Herr said. "I don't play the blame game.
"I will go to represent the people of Massachusetts, not the Republican party."
Particularly, he is looking at Washington as being full of "dysfunction" and wants to be elected to solve problems. One of the key issues Herr sees is repealing the federal Affordable Care Act in favor of states' making their own decisions.
"In Massachusetts, we had a process and a plan that we were working on and it got derailed," Herr said.
"We made the decision. You may not agree with it but we, collectively, made the decision a few years back for universal health care in Massachusetts. I support that. It is a Massachusetts issue, not a national one."
Immigration, too, is taking a heated role in the debates in Washington and Herr, whose parents emigrated to the States, says there needs to be a "reasonable" reform of the program. He said the "crisis of the moment" shouldn't dictate policy but reform should happen to give a path to citizenship while keeping illegal immigrants out.
"Today, the process manages the officials. It should be the exact opposite. In any organization — whether it be a media outlet, a business or General Dynamics — the management has to manage the process. The leaders have to manage the process. But right now, the situation with immigration in America, the situation is dictating what happens," Herr said.
Herr also says a balanced budget amendment and term limits would dramatically change the political landscape.
"I believe term limits will create a far different mindset for elected officials. If you know that you are going home in a few years to live in the world you are creating. If you know you are going home to operate a business that has to operate under the rules and regulations you are creating, you will probably think a little more about what you are doing," Herr said.
Herr is the only Republican in the race so far. He has partnered with Mass Victory, a Republican organization representing all of GOP campaigns, to lay down his campaign fundraising and organizing strategies.
Independent Candidate For U.S. Senate Walks Into Pittsfield
By Andy McKeever iBerkshires Staff
The systems dynamics engineer is running for Congress in an effort to start pushing money out of politics.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Bruce Skarin specializes in understanding the dynamics of mechanical systems over time.
After the terrorist attacks of 2001, he adapted that model to understand the dynamics of political systems — revealing that the attacks were in the making for a long time and could have been prevented and predicted if the "big picture" had been carefully analyzed.
"It was that day when a lot of things were turned upside down for me. I wanted to see what I could do with these new skills I had in trying to take on big problems. I did a model on terrorism and I was able to simulate the 10 years leading up to September 11," Skarin said last week as he walked through downtown meeting with residents and collecting signatures for a run for the U.S. Senate.
"I was able to simulate how things were building up and how different pieces of the problem were trying to prevent terrorism from happening and how other pieces were reinforcing the likelihood."
Now, in 2014, he says the government system is setting the wrong course. Instead of complaining about the influence of money in politics, the lack of environmental protections and a poor education system, Skarin has already announced his intention to challenge U.S. Sen. Edward Markey.
"Two years ago, when my second son was born, I was getting increasingly concerned with the future we're creating right now," he said. "As a simulation scientist, I understand how much inertia problems like national debt, climate change, a stagnant economy have. They have huge amounts of inertia that when the problems are starting to brew, it might not seem so bad. But by the time the really bad stuff starts happening, it is really hard to change."
Basically, Skarin believes Congress isn't moving fast enough the address coming issues. And, the main reason behind that is because of the influence large companies have over the elected officials.
"I'm independent because I believe both parties are blowing it. Neither one of them understand what the daily challenges are for most people," Skarin said. "I think the Washington elites are very much disconnected to the people they are supposed to represent."
For example, when it comes to global warming, he says Congress depends so much on the campaign donations from energy companies that it prevents any energy policy that will curb the issue.
Another example Skarin used is that in the future, vehicles and transportation will move to automatic systems — cutting down on car accidents. However, the insurance and health care industries benefit greatly from them. Instead of seeing he issue before it arises and starting to plan a future around those changes, Congress is swayed by the businesses that donate.
"I'd say that is the first issue. Until we can effectively deal with that, which is why I am running a citizen funded campaign and why I want to spend more of my time and energy connecting with people as opposed to raising money," he said.
In the current trajectory, money is growing in influence over public policy, he said. He wants to work toward removing that influence and said that then that economic markets can compete fairly, boosting the economy.
"It has gotten more and more expensive to run elections because people have gotten less and less interested in what's going on. They don't buy it anymore," he said. "It is reinforcing because the more money they raise, the more disgusted people get. The more disgusted people get, the more they tune out. The more they tune out, the more they have to spend to hit those prime time slots."
Skarin is walking eight to 20 miles a day through Massachusetts towns. He's meeting people, talking politics and having face-to-face conversations.
"I feel this is the right way to do it. I won't raise as much money as Markey. But he can't get out here and do this," Skarin said. "It isn't supposed to be about the money or running attack ads."
The 37-year-old Milbury man characterizes his political believes as taking the "best parts" of Republican Democratic platforms. While he sides with Republicans when it comes to fiscal conservative and individual responsibility principals, he sides with the Democrats when it comes to social justice issues.
"They're heart is in the right place but they don't really understand how to create sustainable solutions," he said of Democrats, taking the minimum wage debate as an example of a temporary fix and then the U.S. debt as unsustainable.
He also is placing a high priority on revamping the national education system to prepare for the advancement of technology.
"We can have a very forward thinking strategy," he said.
Markey, Democratic Leaders Rally For U.S. Senate Race
By: Andy McKeever iBerkshires Staff
U.S. Rep. Edward Markey rallied voters in Pittsfield on Friday with local and state Democratic leaders including his House colleague, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Despite leading in the polls before the special election for the U.S. Senate, Democratic candidate Edward Markey isn't coasting the final four days because "overconfidence breeds complacency and complacency breeds disaster."
He is on a tight schedule through Tuesday that took him Friday to the Berkshire Brigades' offices, where he was joined by Gov. Deval Patrick, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and a large group of Democratic leaders and elected officials.
"I don't feel confident. You can't feel that way. It's like asking the Bruins 'are you going to win the Stanley Cup?' they don't know," Markey said before entering a full room of supporters. "You have to keep at a high level of intensity just so you maximize the result on election night. Then you can celebrate. Then you can relax."
The congressman from Malden is running for the seat vacated by John Kerry, who accepted appointment as U.S. secretary of state. Being a special election and held on an atypical election schedule, voter turnout is expected to be the biggest concern for Democrats.
"For the final four days it is all about getting out the vote," Markey said. "I want to win out here. I am trying to get up the enthusiasm, get the troops out there and make sure that people get out and vote Tuesday."
Auditor Suzanne Bump of Great Barrington said Democrats are not competing with the Republicans but rather "apathy."
She said the decision of who to vote for is easy because Markey has "already demonstrated his values." But Democrats need to "take it to the streets" in order to win the election, she said.
"This is not a leap of faith when we cast this vote. This is a vote of confidence," Bump said. Republican competitor Gabriel Gomez of Cohasset has been positioning himself as a fresh face and has criticized Markey for being a career politician. Markey was first elected to the U.S. Congress in 1974.
But all of the speakers rallied behind representative's 38-year record in expanding broadband access, support for social programs and protecting the environment.
"New isn't always better. Being better is better," Patrick said. "Being right on the issues is better. Seeing us all, not just the mighty but the meek is better. Voting right on the issues, that's better. Caring about lifting the commonweath and the country up, that's better. Putting national interest before party or partisan interest, that's better."
Patrick received roaring applause from the crowd of about 150 people sporting in Markey campaign stickers. He said Markey knows what it takes to give the opportunity for the American dream.
"The American dream requires personal responsibility, grit, determination and resilience — all the things we often hear our conservative friends talk about — self-reliance. They're right," Patrick said. "But the American dream also requires a good education. It also requires affordable health care and a safe neighborhood.
"It also requires a clean environment and true and equal opportunity. All of those things make the American dream possible and we fight for good government because good government makes those things possible."
Gov. Deval Patrick said Markey voted the right way on the issues.
Markey said building the American dream means to look to the future, as he has done in the past when he has "sided with companies that did not exist yet." He is supportive of furthering technology and making Massachusetts the "biotech capital of the world."
"This race is about the future and we have to make sure we protect and advance it," Markey said.
Neal, who has worked with Markey the longest and would be come the dean of the congressional delegation if Markey wins, said his colleague has always been looking toward the future.
"Those of us who are his peers, know how good he is," Neal said. "He is kind, he is decent and he is a great legislator."
Also speaking were state Reps. Paul Mark and Tricia Farley-Bouvier, state Sen. Benjamin Downing and Mayor Daniel Bianchi. The office was filled with elected officials — including North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright, District Attorney David Capeless, City Council President Kevin Sherman and Register of Deeds Patsy Harris — and local Democratic leaders.
"We need to be with Ed Markey because time after time, Ed Markey has been with us," Patrick said.
The special Senate election is Tuesday, June 25, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Also on the ballot is Twelve Visions Party canddiate Richard A. Heos.
Berkshire Brigades Holding Meet & Greet With Markey
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Brigades are holding a "meet and greet" with U.S. Senate candidate Edward Markey on Friday.
Markey will be joined by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and others at the state Democratic Party headquarters on North Street. The event starts a 4:30 p.m.
Markey is running against Gabriel Gomez for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by John Kerry, who accepted appointment as secretary of state. The special election is on June 25.
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