Berkshire Congressional Candidates On Campaign Trail
By Joe Durwin On: 09:36PM / Monday February 06, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire County's two Democratic challengers to Springfield incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard Neal are diving actively into the 2012 contest for the newly redrawn 1st Massachusetts District.
Pittsfield's Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. and Alford's Bill Shein have both been keeping busy as they launch efforts to raise their profile around Western Massachusett's newly redrawn district of 82 towns and cities.
Shein, a writer, humorist and seasoned campaign veteran, has made public and media appearances in North Adams, Westfield, Springfield, Pittsfield and Great Barrington in the past week.
Nuciforo, a former state senator, whose intent to run has been commonly known since 2009, will finally formally announce candidacy this week, according to his campaign. The current Central Berkshire register of deeds has invited supporters and press to a bus tour series of press conferences in Holyoke, Southbridge, Easthampton, Charlemont and Pittsfield this Wednesday.
According to an email appeal from his campaign Friday, Nuciforo hoped to raise an additional $15,000 in small donations in advance of Wednesday's bus tour. The Pittsfield native had $155,256 in funds at the end of September, according to the most recent data available from the Federal Election Commission.
Campaign funding has been one of the dominant issues in the race thus far. At a rally in Pittsfield last month, Nuciforo decried "corporate domination" and the "Washington status quo," in comments indirectly aimed at the 12-term congressman from Springfield. In a Jan. 18 statement, the candidate called for an end to Super PACs and adoption of public election funding.
Shein, however, suggests that both of his opponents will have a hard time claiming independence from corporate influence in this year's race.
The political activist points out that while a state senator, Nuciforo voted to repeal the Massachusetts' Clean Elections law, and received significant funding from PACs and lobbyists
"I'm thrilled that he's finally getting on board with getting the corporate money out of our democracy," Shein told iBerkshires, then described Nuciforo's anti-PAC statement as an one "early victory" for his campaign, coming just the day following Shein announcing his run.
As part of his platform, Shein has said he will not accept campaign contributions greater than $99.
For his part, Neal keeps insisting he's not thinking about the politics of this year's election (he hasn't updated his campaign site), though he has been engaging in a whirlwind schedule of exploratory visits outside of his current 2nd Mass district to some of the Western Massachusetts towns with which his native Springfield will be joined in 2013. While reticent to talk campaigning issues, Neal has stated on several occasions that his financial contributions do not influence his vote on issues in the House.
The Democratic nominee will be decided in a Sept. 6 party primary held on the unusual day of Thursday.
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Actually, Nuciforo has only $136,606.89 cash on hand according to his year end FEC report which covers the period October 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011. Nuciforo had a horrible quarter, raising only $27,210 in that time. That is not going to get it done against Richie Neal.
Neal says that financial contributions do not influence his vote on issues. Of course they don't congressman. Richie subscribes to the maxim of his former colleague Rep. W.J. (Billy) Tauzin, the colorful Cajun from southern Louisiana who said "I can't be bought, but I can be rented." The nation's largest banks, insurance companies and other corporate behemoths have been renting Mr. Neal for the past 24 years now.
I guess one could say that North Adams is out of the picture for now for a visit from Nuciforo, can't afford the bus money, and heck I would even take him to Jack's when they have a two for one special.
Clarksburg: Election, May 27; town meeting, May 28
Williamstown: Election, May 13, 7-8; town meeting, May 20, 7 p.m.
The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015
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