>>Valley Patriot>>

Is Niki Tsongas UNstoppable
Tony Accardi/ RichardHowe.com

I’ll admit it from the beginning … I hang around with political junkies. People who love to talk about politics. And when you’re in Lowell, the conversation inevitably turns to the special election to fill the Fifth Congressional District seat, especially the Democratic primary.

I know Donoghue supporters, Finegold believers, Eldridge devotees and Miceli converts … but I don’t think I’ve talked to anyone who denies that Niki Tsongas has led the Democratic field in all aspects from the start (sorry Eileen, Barry, Jamie and Jim).

Let’s take a look back … it started with her website. Self-anointed political experts (like me) were smugly ruminating, “does the wife of a former U.S. senator who never held elected office have a chance against five seasoned politicians?
Then bam! Tsongas kicks it up a notch … Meehan had barely finished his resignation speech and www.NikiTsongas.com was launched. She has raised more money and captured star power endorsements like Congressman Barney Frank, former Congressman Jim Shannon, EMILY’s List, and now the latest … Tsongas is the first to advertise on TV.

Please don’t misunderstand me … I do not believe Tsongas has the 5th wrapped up (sorry Niki). It is way too early for anyone to believe that, but she is unquestionably the frontrunner.

Many political observers believe a significant percentage of Tsongas’ support is soft (me being one), and this race is not going to be won by a large margin. Still, the question remains, can any of the other candidates take away some of her support?

Obviously, Tsongas’ high profile name gave her an instant advantage, but there is more to her early success. Her staffers have put together a campaign that has given her “the momentum” in the race.

The usual campaign strategy is to “end load” the spending. In other words, fire everything you’ve got in the final few weeks of the campaign.

It is becoming obvious “the usual” strategy is not going to work in this special election. Finegold, Donoghue, Miceli and Eldridge need to slow the Tsongas train down and soon.

Anyone who knows anything about politics knows if the public believes a candidate is going to win, then he/she usually does.

But Tsongas faces a strong group of politically savvy challengers. Barry Finegold, Eileen Donoghue, Jamie Eldridge and Jim Miceli are all experienced, competent elected officials, and all have the ability to derail Tsongas.

Here are a few of my impressions of each:I love Barry Finegold’s emphasis on “lunch pail” issues. Recently, WCVB Channel 5 featured Finegold on their nightly newscast. During the piece, the candidate talked about the need to reduce the high cost of gasoline, college tuition and housing. Everyone relates to these issues. It is old-fashioned “bread and butter” politics and it resonates.

Many experts see Eileen Donoghue as Tsongas’ primary threat. Yet up to this point, a clear distinction between Donoghue and Tsongas has not emerged. Donoghue must avoid becoming the “other woman from Lowell in the race.” I have followed Donoghue on the Lowell City Coun-cil for many years and can unequivocally say she is a first class candidate. During her two terms as mayor of Lowell, she earned praise as being articulate, smart and fair.

Jamie Eldridge is the most liberal of the Democrats in the race. He has attracted a group of hard-working liberal supporters, especially from the blogosphere. He states his positions without ambiguity … he leaves no doubt where he stands on an issue. He works hard and has tapped into an energetic grassroots network, similar to Deval Patrick.

State Representative Jim Miceli has covered Wilmington and Tewksbury for the past 30 years. His name is synonymous with constituent service. Miceli offers 5th  District voters a conservative alternative. He opposes gay marriage and a deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq. But he has a big problem, “money,” or should I say lack of it. In his first quarter campaign financial report, the veteran representative raised only a fraction of what his opponents raised. Miceli knows being the conservative is useless if he can’t get his message out … and you don’t get the message out without the money.

In the next few weeks I believe we will see an attempt by one or all of these candidates to stop Niki Tsongas’ momentum … if not, she may become unstoppable.

 Tony Accardi is co-author of the political blog www.richardhowe.com. He is also the First Assistant Register of Deeds of the Northern District of Middlesex County. You can email him at : anthony.accardi@sec.state.ma.us

 *Send your questions comments to ValleyPatriot@aol.com
The July 2007 Edition of the Valley Patriot
The Valley Patriot is a Monthly Publication.
All Contents (C) 2007
, Valley Patriot, Inc.
We publish 15,000 newspapers and distribute in Andover, North Andover,
Methuen, Haverhill, Chelmsford, Georgetown, Groveland, Boxford, Amesbury, Newburyport
Lawrence, Dracut, Tewksbury, Merrimack, Newburyport, Westford, Acton, and Lowell.
Hampton & Salisbury Beach,
(summers only)

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