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Battles royal made for interesting primaries

Date: 9/10/2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

This is one of the several columns a year I write in advance, as I really don't want to work on a vacation week.

For a political junkie such as myself, taking the week during which there is an interesting primary election is sort of like forcing oneself into rehab. Generally I try to unplug myself from the usual stream of information, opinion and rumor during a vacation, but the idea that I will only marginally follow the outcome of an election makes my hand spasm a bit.

I'm not looking into my crystal ball to guess the winners, but will share some thoughts about a race that I hope will actually draw out the electorate. That is iffy, of course, as it was conducted on a Thursday and because primaries are sometimes not as compelling as general elections.

This primary season has been an interesting one with a battle royal for the Clerk of Courts position. That job is one that, if done correctly, is almost invisible to most voters. The field included some very qualified candidates and I hope the voters decided to come out to support one.

Those candidates all worked hard to gain attention, something that seemed to be absent in the Governor's Council race. Kevin Sullivan seemed to have been the person campaigning the hardest, followed by Gerry Roy and then Michael Albano. I can't recall seeing any signs for Albano — always a barometer — but he was active on Facebook reminding potential voters of his record of public service.

He managed to avoid mentioning how he left the city of Springfield in financial ruin, but then few, if any, politicians would remind voters of such aspects of their career.

The congressional race was also interesting in so far as you had a slap fest between three Democrats, two of whom were counting big on carrying Berkshire County, a new addition to the recently redistricted seat.

As he has done in the past, Congressman Richard Neal had a measured approach to his opponents. He had typical campaign events such as his luncheon for seniors at the Hu Ke Lau and he did participate in debates, although not as many as both Bill Shein and Andrea Nuciforo Jr. would have liked.

Nuciforo positioned himself as a progressive Democrat, despite the fact he has played politics as usual during much of his time in office. Shein had far more street cred when it came to being a progressive. He's an activist duck farmer and newspaper columnist from a small town in the Berkshires.

Here is the cruel irony of this race: Shein's message of campaign reform and taking the money out of politics may have resonated more if he had had greater financial resources, but then that was his point.

Personally I would support legislation that would allow political donations made only to a candidate for whom a donor could vote. So, I couldn't donate to a race outside of my city, county or congressional district. I could donate to a presidential run, but I couldn't write a check to a candidate in Connecticut for instance.

I would also ban contributions from political action groups, if I could. Of course, none of this could happen, as there are relatively few elected officials who would support such a radical idea.

Take the money out of politics and you would instantly level the playing field.

Back to reality: the state senate race was hobbled — literally — with the terrible accident that befell Springfield City Councilor Melvin Edwards. It's next to impossible to campaign effectively from a room in a rehab center. Edwards and incumbent State Sen. Jim Welch are both good guys and I would like to have seen the two debate.

With the primary over, all eyes will now turn to the presidential race and I'm glad I'm taking a break as I think that following that one will be exhausting.

Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.