>>Valley Patriot>>

Who Are the Candidates for Congress

Tom Duggan

The race for Marty Meehan’s seat in Congress is heating up in the Merrimack Valley as the five Democrat candidates vying to replace him are campaigning throughout the district, while at the same time trying to educate the public about the special election to be held on September 4th.

A veterans group called Citizens for Civic Courage sponsored a candidate forum at the Chelmsford Police Station. Each of the Democrat candidates attended; the Republican candidate Jim Ogonowski did not show up.

The candidates:

Niki Tsongas: She is the widow of former Senator Paul Tsongas, who was a legend in the Lowell area and throughout the Fifth District. According to all of the internal polling data, Niki Tsongas is considered the front runner in this race because of obvious name recognition and the endorsement of former Congressman Marty Meehan. According to her website, Tsongas has a law degree from Boston University and started Lowell’s first all-female law practice. She is currently the Dean of External Affairs at Middlesex Community College - the largest community college in the Commonwealth.

In 2001, Niki was appointed by Congressman Marty Meehan to head up a foundation to provide educational funding for the children of the victims of the 9/11 tragedy. And she’s been a member of numerous corporate and non-profit boards because of her strong belief that business must be constructively engaged in the fight for social and environmental justice.

Barry Finegold: Finegold is the state representative from Andover and represents Andover, Lawrence and Tewksbury in the state Legislature. Finegoldis considered more moderate than most of the candidates in this race. He was elected to the Andover Board of Selectmen at age 24, and then to the  Massachusetts House of Representatives at age 25. In 1999, Finegold won the Kennedy School Fenn Award for Political Leadership for his work in bringing together legislators and officials from New Hampshire and Massachusetts to address the traffic problems on I-93. His efforts led to the opening of the breakdown lane during rush hours, which greatly reduced congestion during peak commuting hours.

Finegold graduated from the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1998. He is presently a partner with the law firm of Dalton & Finegold, LLP. Finegold also holds a masters in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. To date, Finegold looks like he has the best chance to pull off an upset against front runner Niki Tsongas as he has raised more money than any other candidate, and has distinguished himself from the rest of the pack with his opposition to surrendering in Iraq.

Eileen Donoghue: Donoghue is currently a member of the Lowell City Council. She was elected in 1996 and was elected mayor in 1998. Donoghue recently took a ‘vote of no confidence’ in City Manager John Cox (along with five other councilors), leading to his departure from city service and angering many Cox supporters.

According to Donoghue’s website, she holds bachelor of arts degree in individualized concentration from the University of Massachusetts, where she studied both law and Spanish. She studied for a period of time at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras, and is fluent in Spanish. She went on to receive her juris doctor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston in 1979. Donoghue has been in private practice since 1979, and in 1991 opened her own law practice in the city of Lowell.

Donoghue is polling in third or fourth place (depending on which internal polls you look at) because of lack of name recognition and an inability (so far) to distinguish herself from the other candidates. She also has a cash flow problem and is fighting an uphill battle to win her home town with Niki Tsongas in the race and being one of two women in the race is also working against her. She does have big name support from several local politicos but as history has shown, endorsements matter very little when name recognition is lacking throughout the district.

Jamie Eldridge: Eldridge is a state representative and was elected to the Legislature in 2002. He represents Acton, Boxborough, Shirley, Harvard, Lancaster, and Lunenburg. Eldridge has a JD from Boston College Law School and a BA from Johns Hopkins University.

According to his website, Eldridge is a community economic development (CED) public interest lawyer, served with Merrimack Valley Legal Services (2001-2002), was the campaign manager for state Senator (and state Representative) Pam Resor in 1998 & 2000, was a legislative aide for state Senator Bob Durand in 1997, and campaign manager for Durand in 1996. He was also a litigation assistant for the prominent law firm of Hale and Dorr, LLP, from 1995 to 1997.

Eldridge is clearly the most liberal of all the candidates, calling for our troops to surrender in Iraq and demanding the immediate withdrawal of all our servicemen from that country. He has very little name recognition in the district, has raised very little money (in comparison to the other candidates), and touts himself as the only legislator to win as a clean elections candidate (running his campaign with the taxpayers’ money). Eldridge has a pre-9/11 philosophy, saying that the War on Terror must be fought as a “law enforcement” measure rather than a military one, and has called letting the terrorists in Guantanamo Bay go free.

Jim Miceli is a state representative from Wilmington and was elected in 1977. He represents Tewksbury and Wilmington in the Legislature and holds a B.A. and B.S. from Northeastern University. Miceli has raised very little money for this race compared to the other candidates, but Jim Miceli is a very wealthy man and could pump thousands of dollars into his own campaign whenever he needs it.

This would normally make any candidate formidable as he could increase his name recognition very quickly when the race goes down the wire. But Miceli has a serious problem in this race, he is a conservative in the most liberal state in the country. He opposes gay marriage and is pro life, the only candidate for Congress to hold such conservative views. He also supports President Bush and the war in Iraq, opposing a timetable for troop withdrawal, something that will undoubtedly hurt him with the anti-Bush electorate in Massachusetts Fifth District. Miceli is a no nonsense politician who calls it like he sees it, and is less polished than the other candidates in this race.

Miceli was a member of the Wilmington Planning Board from 1963 to 1966, elected to the Wilmington Board of Selectmen and served twice as chairman. He has also serves on the MBTA Advisory Board, the Middlesex County Advisory Board (co-chairman), and The Massachusetts Federation of Planning Boards (region 5A chairman).

Whomever you choose to vote for on September 4th, please do your homework and pay attention to the positions and the rhetoric put forth by all the candidates.  

Finegold Backs Three State Solution in Iraq

Opening Remarks during Candidate forum in Chelmsford, sponsored by “Citizens for Civic Change”

Jamie Eldridge: “Let me just say that I never thought I would be part of a generation that would be involved in a war that was caused by lies and deceptions that cost thousands of American lives and tens of thousands of lives of  foreign nationals. I opposed the war in Iraq in the beginning because it wasn’t in America’s security interest. It has cost thousands of lives and created destabilization in the Middle East.  Sadly, too many Democrats in Congress supported giving President Bush the power to invade Iraq which I firmly opposed. President Bush lied to the American public and to Congress to bring us into the war. I firmly opposed that. And I firmly believe that as your next congressman I will work very hard to stop the war in Iraq, to bring our troops home immediately and I am going to join the efforts of the “out Iraq caucus” and Congressman Jim McGovern’s bill to bring our troops home within ninety days.”

Niki Tsongas: “The most important issue facing the country today is the war in Iraq. We have prosecuted a war without a strategy. Exposed our servicemen and women to danger without adequate armor and equipment, and several of the wounded to unsanitary and understaffed medical facilities like Walter Reed. This is wrong and it has to change. I support a timetable for withdrawal of troops from Iraq.  It is time to define the final mission for our troops and we need a political solution for the region.  We also need to honor and respect our veterans with proper care and benefits. I have been told it takes six months or more for veterans with serious injuries to qualify for disability. This is wrong.  I am the proud product of a military family. My father, an Air Force colonel, survived the bombing of Pearl Harbor and spent his career in the military. When my dad came home from WW II, Congress passed the GI Bill. That’s the kind of support our veterans deserve.”

Barry Finegold: My name is Barry Finegold and the most pressing issue facing this country is the war in Iraq, Like many of you, I have many friends who are serving over there. I thank them for their service to our country and I think of them often. The Bush administration’s handling of this war has been a dismal failure. They lied about the intelligence that led us to this war; they did not properly plan for this war, They did not provide our troops what they needed for this war, and now have no strategy for ending this war. I want to get out of Iraq as soon as possible. I want to do it in a responsible way which minimizes American and Iraqi casualties, staves off more civil war and gives us a chance for peace. What we need is bold ideas and big solutions. Senator Biden’s three-state solution has the best chance of doing that. We have learned from history that this can work. We’ve had a decade of peace in the former Yugoslavia. But getting out of Iraq isn’t enough. We need to have a homeland offense and we need to end our dependence on foreign oil.”

Eileen Donoghue: It is really fitting that the most important issue facing this nation is the very fist major debate in this race. It is not only important to the 5th District, it’s important to this nation and the world. We all agree that the war in Iraq is a dismal failure. We have to end the war and get out of Iraq and bring our troops home. Now, recent weeks have shown that the Bush administration lacks the leadership and lacks the courage to abide by a timetable. It is now time for Congress to step up and show leadership, set a timetable, get us out of Iraq. It is going to take months. We cannot afford to jeopardize any more lives in Iraq. That is what is happening. Once we bring those troops home, it is imperative, imperative that our government provide for veterans. Provide those necessary services in medical coverage, education and jobs. This is the duty of Congress and this is the duty I intend to assume once elected.

Jim Miceli: First and foremost I think establishing a timetable for leaving the country is sheer lunacy, absolute lunacy to telegraph to your enemy the date you’re leaving. Number two, I think we are seeing the results of the Congress trying to establish a timetable and the president refusing to sign the bill and we are at a stage right now where I think there will be a negotiation. And I think we all want to get out of that war. However, there is a way to get out of it and a way not to get out of it. I think by Congress and the president working towards establishing a date that is a good meeting of the minds, doing it the right way, will make a lot more sense than setting a date and telegraphing it to your enemies. And I think what has been done, when you have one of the leaders of the Democrats getting up and saying we’ve lost the war is the worst possible message you can send to those young men and women who are fighting over there in Iraq.”

On Impeaching President Bush:

All of the Democrat candidates said they would not favor impeaching President Bush. Niki Tsongas said that she believes that as bad as he is, she does not favor impeachment, rather, she would like to see the Democrat party focus all its attention on getting a Democrat elected to the White house in 2008. Finegold, Miceli and Donoghue agreed.

But Jamie Eldridge seemed to favor impeachment stating  “I think what Congress needs to do now, and what i would do if elected, is begin to have the hearings, and get the testimony out about what this president has done; which is lied to the American public and Congress to bring us into the war in Iraq, he has violated federal law by wire tapping Americans against federal statute  (editors note, this a charge that has never been substantiated in any court) and he has used the political process within the U.S. Attorney General’s office to fire different attorney generals in different states just because they didn’t play hard ball with Carl Rove and President Bush. These are serious offenses, I thin they warrant impeachment but my focus is having hearings and getting the evidence out and moving forward. This was very helpful in the impeachment of president Nixon.”

The war on Terror:

Niki Tsongas said she wants to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 commission and invest in our first responders locally. She also said she wants to invest more resources in Afghanistan where “the real war on terror is” and of course, pulling out of Iraq. Representative Finegold, and Eileen Donoghue agreed that concentrating on Afghanistan was important but Finegold said that homeland security and tighter border security (the only candidate to do so) was paramount to winning the war on terror. Finegold also said he supports improving relations with Pakistan’s president Musharruf and focusing more on Afghanistan and improving intelligence. Jim Miceli said he believes fighting the war in Iraq is helping us win the war on terror pointing out that “there have had no major incidents since 9/11 and anyone that thinks there is no relationship there has another thing coming. We are fighting Al Quaida over there so we do not have to fight them over here. If we withdraw from that country, I do believe we will start to see more terrorism here (in the U.S.) than we have ever seen in the past. Eldridge, however, said to fight the war on terror “we need to apply a law enforcement approach. We need to apply diplomacy. Imagine if we had  better relations with other countries throughout this world. Imagine how many terrorists we would catch instead of  instead of doing unilateral invasions and attacks on other countries.”

On Allowing ROTC to recruit on college Campuses:

With the exception of Representative Eldridge, all of the candidates said they support ROTC recruitment on college campuses. Eldridge said he opposes military recruiters because of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy” implemented by president Clinton, whereby gays are thrown out of the military if they expose their sexuality to the military brass.

Each of the candidates opposed closing Guantanamo Bay Terrorist prison in Cuba except for Eldridge who said that he had proof that our troops were torturing innocent people in the camp. “I had an opportunity to see a presentation at the Unitarian church in Carlisle and witnessed the presentation by an attorney who represents the detainees (terrorists) there. I have seen the pictures of people being tortured there. We’ve all seen the pictures of Abu Ghrab. We need to ban the outsourcing of torture, we need to close Guantanamo Bay I think the proof is there that torture has happened.”

The primary election is September 4th. For breaking news updates on all the candidates visit the Valley Patriot website at www.valleypatriot.com

Editor’s Note: Republican Tom Tierney entered the race after the debate and will challenge Jim Ogonowski on primary day.  

 Tom Duggan is the president of Valley Patriot, Inc., a former Lawrence School Committeeman, and hosts the Paying Attention! Radio Program on WCAP, 980AM, every Saturday afternoon from noon-2pm. You can email your comments to Tdugjr@aol.com .

 *Send your questions comments to ValleyPatriot@aol.com
The June 2007 Edition of the Valley Patriot
The Valley Patriot is a Monthly Publication.
All Contents (C) 2007
, Valley Patriot, Inc.
We publish 13,000 newspapers and distribute in Andover, North Andover,
Methuen, Haverhill, Chelmsford, Georgetown, Groveland, Boxford, Amesbury, Newburyport
Lawrence, Dracut, Tewksbury, Merrimack, Hampton & Salisbury Beach, and Lowell.

Valley Patriot Archive

Valley Patriot Story

Prior Lead Stories

Prior Valley Patriot Editorials

Prior Columns by ...

Tom Duggan
Dr. Chuck Ormsby
Paula Porten
Ralph Wilbur
Ted Tripp

Valley Patriot of the Month


Patrick Blanchette
D.J. Beauregard
Jim Cassidy
D.J. Deeb
Marcos Devers
Bob Desmarais
Regina Faticanti
Jim Fiorentini
Bill Kelly
Wilfredo Laboy
Peter Larocque
Vilma Lora
Ed Maguire
Billy Manzi
Paul Murano
Mark Palermo
Hartley Pleshaw
Debbie Quinn
Raise Em Right
Dr. Peary
Kathleen Corey Rahme
Barney Reilly
Angel Rivera
Jim Rurak
Grisel Silva
Mike Sullivan
Sandra Stotsky
Mike Sweeney
Ken Willette
Scott Wood
Jim Xenakis