U.S. Senate Hopeful Warren Stumps in North Adams
Elizabeth Warren is ready to take on Scott Brown for the U.S. Senate seat that Brown won in special election in 2010 after Edward Kennedy died.
Recapping her own story of rising from a middle-class family to success, Warren told more than 300 people at the Eagle's Hall on Friday night that she fears everyone does not have a shot at success and that she wants to make sure they do.
"I worry my story is embedded in time," Warren said. "I am the daughter of a maintenance man who became this fancy pants professor at Harvard."
She grew up in frugal surroundings, started working at at 9 baby-sitting for the neighbor, went to a public university and taught in public schools on her way to teaching economic law at one of the most prestigious colleges in the world. But now when she looks around, she fears few can follow her path and that is why she is running for the seat, she said.
"As a country coming out of the Great Depression and really the next 50 years, we made the decision to invest in us, to invest in our children, to invest in our future," Warren said. "In the '80s, we lost our way. We turned in a different direction and look where we are today."
Warren said times were booming when the government invested in education, transportation, power and research but those have all taken cuts and, instead, the country is investing in big businesses such as oil, "one of the most profitable industries on Earth."
"We're not investing in our future and that's what draws me into this race," Warren said. "Are we a country that says 'I got mine, the rest of you are on your own' or are we going to be a country that says 'we love success, we think success is terrific, we celebrate success but we believe that everyone, no matter how powerful, no matter how rich has to take a piece of what they've got and pay it forward, to invest so we've got the right conditions in education, infrastructure, power and research so that the conditions will be right so the next kid can make it big."
She also took a shot at what once have been one of the county's largest employers.
"When General Electric is paying zero in taxes at the same time we as a country are saying there is no money for after school programs, young people are going to have to take up more debt to get a college education, seniors have to work and live on less, it's not a question of economics, it's not a question of finance, it's a question of values," Warren said.
"At 2.4, we don't only not build a future, we don't hang onto the present," she said.
Warren is expected to be the Democratic candidate to take on incumbent Scott Brown after scaring top-tier Democrats out of the ring; immigration lawyer Marisa DeFranco and Boston lawyer James King are still in the primary. She lead the charge in developing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau but was over to lead it. She was also chief adviser to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, a member of the Federal Judicial Education Committee and most recently appointed as assistant to the president and special adviser to the secretary of the Treasury on consumer financial protection.
Warren has not been shy about saying she will go Washington and throw her weight around to "rebuild" the middle class by making those investments. That has draw criticism from Brown, who's trying to position himself as a bipartisan aisle-crosser, not a rock-thrower.
Warren says the Wrentham Republican is anything but bipartisan. Brown has voted against three different bills that would have brought jobs to the state, against the DREAM Act and financial reforms that shifted more burden to the taxpayers, she said.
"That's not bipartisan, that's voting against families as I see it," Warren said. "Scott Brown is much more about protecting Wall Street, protecting the biggest corporations. I am here to say that we need to protect our kids and our future."
As for her own ability to reach across the aisle, Warren pointed to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau development that faced challenges by the "biggest lobbyists in the world." She said she's work with banks and creditors with regulations that protect both the consumer and the banks.
"I know how to work with a lot of people to get something done," Warren said. "This is my first election but it's not my first campaign."
This campaign is also an uphill battle with Brown not only being an incumbent with strong approval numbers but also twice as much money as her, she said. Her campaign strategy is not going to be about buying TV spots but instead a grassroots campaign fueled by word of mouth, she said.
"I need you, starting now, to start talking about this election of 2012, talk about what's at stake, talk about the difference between investing in those who have already made it and investing in our future.Tweet it, Facebook it, if you are old fashioned use the telephone," Warren said.
Warren was joined by the many of the county's politicians. Mayor Richard Alcombright, state Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, and state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, introduced Warren. Also attending were some of the area's Democratic leaders and city councilors, U.S. representative hopefuls Andrea F. Nucifor Jr. and Bill Shein, and state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, who later took the stage to encourage the crowd to spread the word.
Senate Candidate Warren To Stop In North Adams
This is her first venture this far west and north in the state since she began her "listening tour" last fall before announcing a run for the Democratic nomination. Local Democrats and others have packed Warren's past stops in the area.
Warren's Western Mass field organizer Greg Maynard had promised late last month that the Harvard professor and creator of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (designed ride herd on Wall Street) would be in the North Berkshires in a matter of weeks.
"We are working very hard to make sure she visits the whole of Berkshire County," Maynard had told a gathering of the Democrat City Committee. "We're going to get the margin of victory out here."
Warren has visited Sen. Benjamin B. Downing's Western Mass district nine times and Pittsfield twice, once during her listening tour. Of the 48 towns in his district, 47 had voted for North Adams native Martha Coakley in the last election. "We've got to straighten out Otis," Maynard said to laughter.
Otis was the only Berkshire town to support Republican Scott Brown in his win for the seat of the late Ted Kennedy. Brown decisively defeated Coakley in the special election in 2010 to complete the final two year of the term.
Nuciforo Bus Tour Kicks Off Campaign
Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. formally kicked off his run for Congress on Wednesday with a bus tour through the 1st Mass district and a rally in Pittsfield.
The candidate's excursion ended in his hometown of Pittsfield with the bus rolling up to Mazzeo's North just before 6:30, where a crowd of about a 100 people gathered to hear what he had to say.
In his address there, Nuciforo appealled to supporters as the candidate of "middle and working class people," in a speech centered around popular national themes of economic strife and general disatisfactions with Congress.
"The economy has been rigged against ordinary people ... Washington politicians of both parties have allowed a few individuals and corporations to increase their wealth and political power at the expense of everyone else."
"We need a break from the past, and a new set of eyes to look at things differently."
Nuciforo, currently Middle Berkshire register of deeds, listed key elderly issues as one of his top priorities, and pledged support to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the Veterans Administration.
"I will fight any effort to defund or privatize or blow up or compromise any of these important programs," said the aspiring congressman, who has drawn fire in the past for the level of funding received from insurance companies and a perceived pro-insurance stance in past legislative issues.
Secondly he called for a closer examination of the 2008 economic collapse.
"We need accountability for those, both in Washington and on Wall Street, that drove this economy into a ditch in 2008. We need to understand what happened: the deregulation of the financial market, the big influence of big money on Washington. We need to understand precisely what happened and who made that happen."
Corporate money and anti-incumbent sentiments have been a major theme for both of the Berkshire-based Democratic contenders for the redrawn 1st Massachusetts District, in a race that will pit them against 10-term U.S. Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield, whose popular base and funding currently far exceeds that of the other candidates.
Bill Shein, who announced in mid-January he will also seek the congressional seat, questioned the former state senator's credibility as the best voice for these issues.
"We're not going to make real progress on jobs, economic fairness, or any other pressing issue by replacing one typical politician with another typical politician," he said.
Shein said in a statement that he has been consistently advocating for years the kind of political change that Nuciforo has invoked in his opening campaign speeches.
"As a candidate for Congress I continue to say precisely the same things and promote the same ideas I always have. I didn't craft a new message or political persona to fit the public mood. Because that’s old way of politics, and we need a new way."
Several proponents of Richard Neal in attendance at Wednesday's Nuciforo campaign rally expressed similar sentiments to iBerkshires, saying that while they thought that both of the Berkshire challengers have raised points they agree with, Neal offers the kind of experience in national and international matters and political ability that will be needed if real legislative change is to move forward.
Neal supporters pointed to various organizations' rating systems to suggest that Neal is among the more "progressive" of the current crop of incumbent legislators. Various groups and scaling systems have rated Neal as anywhere from 47 percent to 95 percent.
The Democratic nominee will be decided in a Sept. 6 party primary held on the unusual day of Thursday.
Former City Clerk Trying for Register of Deeds
"With my background as the former city clerk and work in law firms, I understand the importance of the register's position and I believe I would bring a unique and valuable skill set to that office," said Phillips in a statement announcing her run. "On a personal note, I am looking forward to the opportunity to return to public service, something which I truly enjoyed."
Current Register Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. is running for Congress this year.
Phillips left office in 2008 to join General Dynamics, where she has been employed since 2009. She flirted with the idea of challenging her replacement, Linda Tyer, in 2009 but backed out at the last minute.
She said she is well suited for the post of register because of her municipal and business experience.
"I believe that I am a great fit for this job. Over the next months, I look forward to going door to door and doing the work necessary so that the voters believe that as well," said Phillips.
She expects to take out nomination papers from the Voters Office in City Hall at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Middle District encompasses Pittsfield, Becket, Dalton, Hinsdale, Lee, Lenox, Otis, Peru, Richmond, Stockbridge, Tyringham and Washington, with its offices in Pittsfield.
Nuciforo Making District Tour to Announce for House
The tour takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 8, with the first press conference at 9:15 in Holyoke.
The Central Berkshire register of deeds and former Pittsfield state senator announced his intention to run for the House seat more than two years ago.
The new district encompasses most of far Western Massaschusetts, including the Berkshires, and the Springfield area. Current U.S. Rep. John W. Olver of Amherst will retire at the end of this term.
Nuciforo, along with friends, family, and supporters, will start the day in Pittsfield, and travel to Holyoke, Southbridge, Easthampton and Charlemont for formal press conferences. The tour will wind up with a campaign kick-off rally and party at the Winter Street Mazzeo's Ristorante in his hometown of Pittsfield.
- 9:15 a.m.: Mill 1 Open Square, Open Square Way, Holyoke
- 11:30 a.m.: Pilsudski Polish American Citizens Club, 18 Ballard Court, Southbridge
- 2 p.m.: Sunrise Manor Community Room, 17 Paradise Drive, Easthampton
- 4:15 p.m.: Warfield House Inn, 200 Warfield Road, Charlemont
- 6:30 p.m.: Campaign Rally, Party and Press Conference, Mazzeo's Ristorante, 7 Winter St., Pittsfield