Saturday, April 07, 2007

Dozen Legs Race for Meehan's Spot

Six of the seven pols aspiring to fill 5th Congressional District seat held by Marty Meehan attended the the New(s) England Revolution conference. They largely want to bring our troops in Iraq home -- with some spongy wording (no time tables and words about making sure they were safe). Likewise, they offered greater distinction in the way they described their backgrounds than in their positions on hot issues.

David O’Brien, Eileen Donoghue, Jamie Eldridge, Barry Finegold, Jim DiPaola and Niki Tsongas attended.

Donoghue referred to her school committee chair and her service as Lowell mayor. However, she spoke like a U.S. Rep. candidate. She wants to "bring the men and women home safely" from Iraq. She would work for health care for all. She would not support renewing the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, but stopped short of saying where she'd draw the line.

She made her strongest, longest statement about education. She opposed federal unfunded mandates for education, based on benchmarks. She thinks "a first-class education should be a right" for all children and young adults.

She concluded her time by saying not only could she do the job, but that as mayor, "I have done the job."

Eldridge also wanted the bring the troops home from Iraq. He was the first to call for active involvement in ending global warming. He would like to see a rapid move to single-payer health care nationwide.

Finegold painted himself as the independent and principled candidate. For example, "I stood up for (state House Speaker Tom) Finneran. I stood up for gay rights." Among his broader positions was a support for engagement and dialog with enemies, such as Syria. He thus approved of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Syria and thinks that our best opportunities for peace come with dialog.

Tsongas stressed briefly bringing the troops home too. She was at the disadvantage of following many popular consensus positions. She did say that we as a nation needed to take "concerted steps to solving" global warming.

She did not invoke her beloved, late husband Paul until her most powerful statement -- on immigration. She noted that Paul came from an immigrant family that that he was just one proof of the value of people moving to this country to contribute to the nation. She supports the Kennedy/McCain concepts of earned citizenship.

She also was strong on education, which she said had two great advantages. One is giving people the hope for advancement for themselves and their families. The other is that fully supported and funded education from pre-school through college is our best way to begin reducing the large prison population.

DiPaola was the odd man out. He was an 18-year Malden police veteran, much of that as an undercover narc. He sounded a bit like Tom Reilly in the past gubernatorial election. His tool chest seems to have two items -- enforcement and crime prevention. He attributes crime to a disproportionate amount of our troubles. That's understandable from his background.

He depicted himself as a turn-around manager too. For example, he said he revamped the sheriff's office, buildings, and procedures.

His closing statement also included a call for Gov. Deval Patrick to put a veteran's official back in the cabinet to ensure the welfare of returning soldiers.

O'Brien said that his constituents reported that soldiers no longer understand why they are being sent or returned to Iraq. He wants the troops home.

His wild card was a good way to address the audience. He noted that there were no credentialed bloggers in the U.S. Congress. He wants to change that.

He differentiated himself by saying he was "the opportunity builder." He cited him and his brother working to make a dangerous and decrepit Lowell housing project livable.

Note: Cross-posted at Left Ahead!

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