A very happy U.S. Rep. Richard Neal laughs with supporters in Pittsfield on Friday morning after clinching a win that shifts him into the 1st Mass District.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A victorious U.S. Rep. Richard Neal offered his thanks to Berkshire County supporters Friday morning at a breakfast reception at Dottie's Coffee Lounge on North Street.
"We had a great showing in Berkshire County last night and I couldn't be any happier with the outcome," said Neal upon arrival at the popular downtown haunt, where around 20 local Democrats joined the congressman in celebrating his election yesterday to the 1st Massachusetts District.
Winning the Democratic nomination for the seat in Thursday's primary essentially makes Neal the district's new congressman. He is unopposed in the November general election.
The Springfield Democrat's list of appreciation included numerous local officials and prominent county Democrats, some of whom were present Friday morning, and others who attended his victory party last night in Springfield. These included state Sen. Benjamin Downing of Pittsfield, state Rep. Paul Mark of Peru, Sheriff Thomas Bowler, Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi as well as former Mayors James Ruberto and Raymond Del Gallo, North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright and former Mayor John Barrett III, Sherwood Guernsey, Lee Harrison, Mary K. O'Brien and many other area residents whom he credited with helping assure his higher numbers in the county.
In his remarks, Neal stressed the importance of showing equal support to other Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren and President Obama in the upcoming general election.
"We've got our work cut out for us," said Neal. "We intend to organize trips to New Hampshire, and I think that could play a very decisive role in the campaign."
As far as the campaign just past, Neal took issue with what he called political "spin" in an allusion to statements made by challenger Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. Neal pointed to two previous benchmark polls taken by his campaign over the summer, both of which showed him ahead by around 40 points, seemingly presaging the approximately 40-point margin of his win Thursday.
"I don't think you should tell your supporters it's a close race when you're down by 40 points. I don't think you go to the state convention and say 'It's neck and neck.'"
"I have never run a negative ad in my career," Neal told iBerkshires, with regards to the often acrimonious tone of his two challengers' campaigns. "I have never disparaged an opponent, and I think we demonstrated once again that you can be successful without doing those things."
Asked about speculation that he is the likely successor to chair the influential House Ways and Means Committee, on which he has served since 1993, Neal told iBerkshires this is a possibility, should the Democrats take the House in November.
"We'll have to see as time goes on, but certainly I've been well positioned, that's for sure."
Michigan's Sander M. Levin is the Democrat's temporary ranking member, following the resignation of Rep. Charles Rangel amidst allegations of ethics violations. In addition to Levin, there are three other more senior members of the committee, none of whom have publicly expressed interest in the chairmanship. Experts say Neal, who has donated more to other House Democrats' campaigns this year than in the entire 10-year period from 1997 to 2007, has an excellent chance of attaining the position.
With regards to a growing push both locally and statewide for a potential constitutional amendment effectively nulling the 2010 Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, Neal expressed his support, but indicated that any such amendment is still far off.
"I'm supportive of that idea, that we should repeal Citizens United. I think if we're not careful, Citizens United is going to allow a handful of people to dictate the outcome of national elections," Neal said. "I think a constitutional amendment is a long way off. I think the most important thing to do is re-elect the president, to change the Supreme Court."
Neal, who has served as representative to the 2nd Massachusetts District since 1989, will become the first to represent the newly redrawn 1st District when it goes into effect at the start of 2013.
"You're going to find that I represent you as aggressively and as assertively as I have represented the Pioneer Valley and Worcester for a long time."
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