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Challenger Ed O'Reilly ready to take on Kerry

Ed O'Reilly
By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

Ed O'Reilly has asked Sen. John Kerry to set up a series of debates, but has not yet heard when or where the debates will take place or how many Kerry will do.

The Gloucester lawyer is challenging Kerry for the Democratic nomination in the primary on Sept. 16. He successfully reached the number of votes needed at the State Democratic Convention earlier this summer.

Kerry's Campaign Manager Roger Lau confirmed the request has been received and wrote back "...Sen. Kerry and his colleagues are working hard to finish the business on the legislative calendar before the senate adjourns in the next few weeks."

O'Reilly is looking for Kerry to commit to debate in each county debates on community college and University of Massachusetts campuses throughout the state.

He said he believes the debates would not be a "huge amount of time" and would be something Kerry could fit into his schedule.

Political conventional wisdom would cast O'Reilly as the underdog, but he said that he has received warm welcomes from Democrats who have concerns about Kerry. The media has covered his efforts so far, and O'Reilly has been invited to appear on a number of news broadcasts, including WGBY and New England Cable News, after Labor Day.

He did note the Boston Globe has not covered his campaign, although the Boston Herald has.

With the fall within sight, people are now starting to pay closer attention to the race, he said.

The issue of funding is always important in a statewide contest, and O'Reilly said, "I'm going to have enough money to do what we have to do to win the race."

He has loaned the campaign $400,000 of his own funds and said he would rather campaign more to build support than focus on fundraising.

He said that Kerry had spent nearly $1 million to try to keep him off the ballot.

Nor are endorsements by public officials important to him, as he knows such statements would put people "on the spot." He said he is not trying to be "confrontational."

O'Reilly will have an open house of his Western Massachusetts campaign offices at 11 a.m. on Aug. 9 in the former Kittredge building on Columbus Avenue in Springfield.

He said that he sees the energy crisis and the economic downturn linked and that to solve the two problems he would propose legislation that would enable municipalities to set up locally owned alternative energy companies based on the economic model of the municipal electric companies, which returns any profit to the local communities.

O'Reilly said these efforts would be initiated by the communities and would use the approaches best suited to them. His "Renew America" plan would help the environment, create local jobs and would create a "greening" of the economy.

O'Reilly said such an initiative would help end the war in Iraq as he sees the conflict based on the issue of controlling an oil field rather than securing America.

"We wouldn't be there if their chief export was walnuts," he said.

He said that, if elected, he would work toward legislation that would require the posting of every meeting scheduled between a lobbyist and a member of Congress on a Web site. He would also make those meetings public,

Referencing the energy and economic issues facing many people in the state, O'Reilly said, "I think this is going to be a working class and senior citizen election."