Laugenour Preparing For At Least Three Debates
Larry Kratka, Donna Todd Rivers and Holly Troiano have each expressed a desire to host debate forums to help educate voters. Kratka is news director of Vox Communications, which broadcasts programming on WSBS in Great
Barrington. Rivers hosts "Berkshire Viewpoint" on WBRK in Pittsfield. Troiano is on the faculty of Berkshire Hills Regional School District as a teacher of politics who often invites public officials to speak before her classes.
The Laugenour campaign has not yet received formal invitations for 2012 debates.
Voters in the 4th Berkshire District are the only ones in Berkshire County with a choice this year for whom they elect to represent them on Beacon Hill. Incumbents in other districts have faced no party primary or general election competition.
"I applaud groups who take seriously the important task of voter education," said Laugenour, who is the Green-Rainbow Party candidate. "Even non-profit groups that cannot make actual endorsements can host candidate forums and circulate candidate questionnaires on issues of concern to them as long as all ballot-qualified candidates are offered the opportunity to participate."
Laugenour has made public the questions and answers to all candidate questionnaires that he has received.
"In preparing for these debates my opponent will know in advance all of my answers to questionnaires that were posed by advocacy groups representing a wide range of political ideologies. Neither I nor anyone else in the general public knows how my opponent answered these questions," Laugenour recently told Kratka while discussing the issue of transparency on the air.
"Transparency is good politics and so is setting the example of it to a higher bar."
Willingness to debate was the issue raised in question No. 4 of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance questionnaire, which read, "Some candidates run for public office, win, and refuse to debate their future opponents. If you are facing a challenger this election, will you publicly debate your opponent? If elected, will you pledge to publicly debate your future opponent(s) once elected?"
Answering these questions in the affirmative, Laugenour reiterated the pledge that he made in 2010, to accept all debate invitations made in good faith to all candidates appearing on the ballot.
The campaign looks forward to working with these and other sponsors who come forward. During the 2010 election, the Laugenour campaign received two debate invitations and accepted both. Rep. Pignatelli participated in only one debate with Laugenour in 2010, which was hosted by Larry Kratka and co-moderated by Clarence Fanto and Dan Valenti.
Harris Elected Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds
Patsy Harris gets a congratulatory hug at her victory party at the American Legion on Thursday night.
"Thank you for all your time," said Harris to supporters at an election night reception at the American Legion Post 68. "It all paid off."
Harris swept every one of the 12 communities that comprise the Middle Berkshire District, with the exception of Pittsfield's Ward 7A, which went to Phillips. Harris captured 60.7 percent of the vote; Phillips had 22.5 percent and Pignatelli with 16.8 percent.
Becket's numbers were reported late in the evening, but Harris received statements of concession from both opponents by around 9 p.m.
The final count was Harris with 6,663 votes; Phillips with 2,446 and Pignatelli with 1,910.
Harris, a current assistant register of deeds, was seen a clear front-runner early on in the race, but seemed to face a growing challenge from her two opponents, particularly Phillips, a former city clerk, as their campaign visibility grew over the summer.
Harris lavished praise on and thanked an enthusiastic crowd of supporters and key campaign volunteers.
"When somebody runs for office, they're really saying 'Get ready everybody, I need everything you've got for a year,'" said Harris, calling it a "great race" in which the other candidates "were wonderful as well."
"I think it was a clean race, really, I do," she added, though this was greeted by skeptical laughter by many of her supporters. Earlier this summer complaints of missing or destroyed campaign signs aroused some level of controversy, and was addressed in a variety of letters by Harris' supporters.
The newly elected register particularly credited the financial support of the "legal community, really as a whole" in funding her campaign.
"They really came through, and I'm just so grateful," said Harris.
Harris moves into the general election unopposed. She will replace current Register Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. representative.
Neal Wins Primary Battle for 1st Mass Seat
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal will move from the 2nd Mass District to the 1st in the next Congress after winning Thursday's primary.
By 9:30 p.m., Neal was outpolling his opponents 3-1 with fewer than 100 precincts left to report in the race for the 1st Massachusetts District. With no opponent in sight for the November election, Neal is the representative for the newly redrawn congressional district.
The writing was on the wall early on as the veteran 2nd District congressman began pulling away from the Berkshires' two candidates — Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. and Bill Shein — when the results began coming shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m.
Both Nuciforo and Shein campaigned heavily in Neal's Springfield base, hoping to pull some votes there way but they failed to make significant inroads against the 10-term congressman.
Neal, who was endorsed by retiring U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, did as well as expected in Springfield, taking 9,883 to Nuciforo's 1,553 and Shein's 394. But he also did well in the Berkshires, easily outpolling both men on their home turf.
Nuciforo, who'd been planning his run since 2008, surpassed Neal in Dalton (483-379) and Hinsdale (150-111) and tied him in Lee at 297. He also won in Otis and New Ashford.
By 7:30, a half-hour before the polls closed in Clarksburg, only 129 of town's more than 1,100 voters had cast ballots. One of the election workers described the day as "steady slow."
Clarksburg voters cast 116 ballots in the Democratic primary, giving Neal 53 votes, Nuciforo 46 and Shein 11. Thirteen Republican primary ballots were cast, giving Michael F. Case nine votes and Michael Franco three votes in the Governer's Council race. Results for the Governer's Council on the Democratic side were Michael Albano 46, Gerry Roy 8 and Kevin Sullivan 42.
In Williamstown, the turnout was better at 22 percent but Town Clerk Mary Kennedy had forecast around 1,200 ballots being cast. The final number was 844.
"I thought we would at least break 1,000," she said.
Neal took Williamstown with 318 votes, 100 more than Nuciforo, a former state senator from Pittsfield. Shein, of Alford, polled 243.
Williamstown, not surprisingly, went blue with 791 votes in the Democratic primary and 49 in the Republican. One ballot was also cast in the Green-Rainbow primary, which had no races.
North Adams also went Neal with 366 votes, Nuciforo with 282 and Shein with 181. Only about 10 percent of registered voters turned out, with 872 out of 8,724 casting ballots.
Election Warden Ronald O'Brien said the low turnout at North Adams was expected but not by this much.
"There really isn't a big race for North Adams," O'Brien said.
Both he and City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau spoke highly of the city's election workers.
"I think voters should be very appreciative of the election workers of the city," Gomeau said. "They should be commended."
In the 8th District Governer's Council race, Michael Albano was holding a slim lead over Kevin Sullivan in the Democratic primary, with Gerry Roy a distant third. On the Republican side, Michael Franco was leading Michael Case by several hundreds votes with 15 precincts yet to report.
For full results, see Boston.com.
Updated Friday, Sept. 7, to note Shein's better showing in South County and that Michael Albano and Michael Franco will face off for the Governor's Council seat in November. Final unofficial numbers were Neal at 40,165 votes (65 percent); Nuciforo at 15,123 (25 percent) and Shein at 6,048 (10 percent) per Boston.com.
United Auto Workers Endorse Laugenour in Rep Race
President of the UAW Massachusetts State Cap Council, Willie Desnoyers, specifically told Scott in a letter dated Aug. 10, 2012, that the UAW is "looking forward to working with Scott on important issues that concern Massachusetts working families. These issues include quality health care and education, along with fair wages and worker's rights."
Laugenour is honored by this endorsement. "We are working hard to bring a choice for real progressive change to voters. I stand for fair taxes and health care for all residents in the Commonwealth. Without a good education and jobs-supporting infrastructure the quality of life for the average Massachusetts resident declines. I intend to continue to stand up to business as usual. The choice for the November 6th general election will be between voting to keep things the same or voting for real progressive change. I thank the UAW for recognizing this and for supporting my candidacy."
Laugenour, a Green-Rainbow Party candidate, is running in a two-way race for the seat currently occupied by Democrat William "Smitty" Pignatelli, who is seeking re-election. The Green-Rainbow Party does not solicit or accept corporate lobbyist contributions, unlike the political parties with which current Beacon Hill incumbents affiliate.
The answers that Laugenour submitted to the UAW 2012 Candidate Questionnaire can be viewed online.
Shein Accuses Berkshire Democratic Wing of Favoritism
Congressional candidate Bill Shein says the Democratic Party hasn't been neutral enough in the 1st Mass primary.
"Berkshire Brigades is an official part of the Massachusetts Democratic Party and can't endorse or show favor to any candidate pre-primary," said Shein. "But it has been, all year, ongoing and obvious."
Shein said election, communications and organizing efforts by the group have promoted Rep. Richard Neal's candidacy disproportionate to that of himself and former Pittsfield state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr.
The Alford writer pointed to Brigades Chairman Lee Harrison stepping down from that post to participate in Neal's campaign.
Harrison announced his temporary departure as chairman in a July 27 letter to the editor of The Berkshire Eagle in support of Neal, which notes he had stepped down in June "to take an active part in the primary campaign." Pre-primary FEC filings indicate that Neal's campaign made a payment in the amount of $2,000 to Harrison on July 24.
"It's really a non-issue," said Neal campaign coordinator Matthew Fenlon, "In the letter [to the Eagle] Lee made it perfectly clear that he was stepping down from the Berkshire Brigades as of June to take a full-time role on our campaign."
Neither Harrison nor interim Chairwoman Sheila Irvin was able to be reached for comment on the accusations of favoritism, but former state representative and Brigades founding Chairman Sherwood Guernsey dismissed the statements as "sour grapes."
"The Brigades has not taken an official position at all on any of the candidates," said Guernsey, who continues to serve as a board member. "It is true that individuals within the Brigades are supporting individuals within the congressional race. The Berkshire Brigades is all about supporting the Democratic candidates."
"We haven't gone around publicizing anything for Neal," Guernsey told iBerkshires. "We haven't gone around publicizing anything for any one of them in particular."
A keyword search of the Berkshire Brigades website turns up 18 posts that mention Neal, but only one mention of the other two candidates, in a brief post announcing the air time of a WGBY candidate debate, one of two held in this election cycle.
In addition to reposts of Neal's own campaign statements on prominent endorsements, the Brigade's blog posts also include bulletins on several local canvassing efforts coordinated by the group on behalf of Neal in conjunction with those of Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, upcoming campaign events, and an appeal from his campaign for volunteers.
Shein also voiced concerns that an episode of the Brigades' public access television show "Common Sense" had featured more airings of its episode featuring Neal than those of the other two candidates. Neal's episode ran on two separate days, on July 16 and Aug. 13, for a total of eight showings, according to Pittsfield Community Television records, as opposed to that of Shein's, which ran five times and Nuciforo's, which ran four. These aired at different times of day on Aug. 20 and 27, respectively.
A representative of PCTV told iBerkshires this was because of an error in program scheduling, and that the July 13 airings had not been intended by the Berkshire Brigades.
Nuciforo's campaign declined to comment on the allegations of favoritism or apparent disparity in campaign representation in the organization's website, but did confirm that Berkshire Brigades does not appear to be on any of the campaign's email mailing lists.
While the Brigades' blog page has been updated regularly throughout the summer, its informational page has not been updated to reflect the change in chairman. A campaign mailing for Kevin Sullivan for Governor's Council that arrived at some local residences today also lists Lee Harrison as chairman of the Brigades.
Shein previously boycotted the state's Democratic Party convention in early June, citing several instances of what he called "consistent breaches of party neutrality" by the state Democratic apparatus throughout the 1st District congressional race, including invitations to canvass for Neal in communications paid for by the state Democratic Party.