PITTSFIELD, Mass. — This is the year that Western Massachusetts turns the status quo on its head, U.S. House hopeful Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. told a captivated audience at Zucchinis restaurant Wednesday night during one of his early campaign fundraisers.
"This is the going to be the year that voters in Western Massachusetts, and voters across the country, take typical Washington status quo and turn it on its head. It's going to be an upside down year," Nuciforo said.
Nuciforo has been visiting and engaging with the some 86 cities and towns that will make up the newly redrawn 1st Massachusetts Congressional District.
"This is a great opportunity for us," said the Democratic candidate, who declared his intention to run back in 2009, long before the redrawing of the districts was passed by the state Legislature. "This district is brand new. It includes all of Berkshire County and it takes us all the way through Westfield, Holyoke, Easthampton, Springfield, all the way to that southern tip of Worcester County. So we've got a lot of work ahead of us."
Nuciforo emphasized economic distress and a change in Washington politics as themes in the 2012 election.
"This is going to be a watershed moment in American politics because people in this country have felt more and more detached from the people who are supposed to be representing them. That's what this election's going to be all about," he said.
Nuciforo told his supporters that the campaign is already going well, described fundraising efforts as "quite successful," and referred to "sleeper cells" of volunteers located throughout the district.
As to how he looked at the challenges of running against current U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, whose native Springfield constituency will join the 1st Massachusetts District, the former state senator told iBerkshires he has reason to be optimistic.
"The district is new. It's 86 cities and towns in Western Massachusetts and it is new to all the candidates. We're taking the time to meet with the people who will decide the election. These, of course, are the voters," said Nuciforo, who will face off against Neal in the Democratic primary on Sept. 6. No Republican candidate has yet announced.
When asked if he thought his message might resonate with those sympathetic to the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has seen offshoots throughout the county, Nuciforo said, "American politics has been overrun by corporate money and special interests. Many of our elected officials, even here in Western Massachusetts, are getting the lion's share of their financial support from Wall Street banks, corporations, and affiliated PACs. The Occupy movement reflects the American people's disappointment with that system."
He added, "my views are very compatible with those that are unhappy with that corporate domination."
Meanwhile, Neal was making the local headlines with his two-day visit to the Berkshires that included meeting with local politicians, educational leaders and news editors. When he visited with representatives from Berkshire Community College on Wednesday morning, the 12-term congressman said he was unaware that Nuciforo was holding an event the same day.
"I'm not really thinking about politics right now," Neal told iBerkshires.
Nuciforo is expected to formally enter the race in February, according to campaign political director Joe Engwer.
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This race could be called the Insurance Primary with Neal (D-Mass Mutual) facing Nuciforo (D-Commerce/Liberty Mutual/Arbella). Both of these guys are corporate Dems. When Andy chaired the Financial Services Committee in 2006 he reported $137,000 in campaign cash from insurance, mortgage bankers and credit unions at a time when Mass. had the worst-in-the-nation auto insurance system that cried out for reform.
The banks and their PACs lavished money on Andy when he was Senate chair of the Committee on Banks and Banking and now Andy says that "my views are very compatible with those that are unhappy with that corporate domination." C'mon man!
And no discussion of campaign finances would be complete without remembering Andy's vote to gut and kill the Clean Elections law in February 2002.
When Andy was on the conference committee for the Romney health care bill their first act was to meet in private. Yeah, OWS folks are gonna love that track record of openness and accountability.
How about the bills Andy filed that he COULD NOT get passed. Like the one to prohibit banks from charging usage fees at ATMs. Or expanding the Bottle Bill to cover waters, juices, sports drinks. So much for the legislative effectiveness argument pal.
Since the filing deadline is not until May, one can hope that another candidate or candidates will pull papers for this seat. Where are the women?
Editor: The election season is just beginning. There will be more articles and debates for each gentleman and for whoever else throws their hats in. You can read more about Mr. Nuciforo on his website.
Please. Nuciforo helped overturn the Massachusetts Clean Elections law that would have reduced the power of corporate money and the lobbyists who were big contributors to Andy's campaigns for state senate. Public financing is the best way to tackle the problem of corporate money, and Andy failed when given the chance to make it happen. The idea that Occupy Wall Street would support his kind of politics is pretty darn funny.
There is something very creepy about this campaign. His rhetoric about the Wall St movement seems vague and opportunistic. His reference to "progressive" politics seem confused and suggest a vaguely neo-conservative stance.
And there is just so little out there about what Nuciforo actually thinks about foreign policy or anything for that matter other than political strategy. His website under "Issues and values" reads like he is running for student council: "We will gather the facts and the data before forming opinions" and "Listen to other points of view.." Uhh OK.
His endorsement by and close ties to the Massachusetts Association of Jewish Federations is most troubling. This is an organization that is directly linked to The Jewish Council for Public Affairs which is defiantly (and blindly)pro-israel in all matters but especially in Israel's conflict with the palestinians which is central to almost all conflict in the middle-east.
Are we just going to get in Nuciforo another Democrat crowing about being the champion of the "workin' man" and middle class while he puts our sons and daughters in harm's way?
Let's take a good look at Rep. Neal. His seniority alone would be helpful for the Berkshires in terms of getting things done. Remember that he has been an opponent of the Bush tax cuts for the rich since day one. That ought to count for something!! I'll go with Neal.