Tuesday July 10, 2012

The three Democrats vying to represent the 1st Mass achusetts District in Congress made one thing clear on Monday: They're ready to debate.

A challenge to a series of debates issued by Andrea Nuciforo Jr. was met enthusiastically by his two opponents -- incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, and Bill Shein of Alford.

Neal's campaign spokesman, Matthew Fenlon, said Neal looks forward to addressing his opponents in front of voters.

"It is a well known fact that Congressman Neal has always debated his political opponents during election years," Fenlon said in a statement. "He strongly believes voters of Western and Central Mass achusetts deserve to know his views on the issues they care most about."

Shein concurred.

"We should have lots of debates, and there are lots of invites out there," he said. "As soon as I get an invitation, I always say, ‘Yes, I will attend.' "

The candidates noted that all three parties had already agreed to one date in Springfield and are actively considering a handful of other dates.

Nuciforo proposed at least four debates, each to be held in different regions of the newly redrawn 1st District, which includes the Berk shires, as well as parts of Hampden, Worcester and Frank lin counties.

Neither Neal nor Shein indicated they have any objections to Nuciforo's suggestion that debates take place in venues across the district.


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Nuciforo and Neal's campaigns both said their staff will agree to specific dates in the coming weeks.

Nuciforo's challenge didn't mention Shein, who on his campaign's Twitter account responded to the omission with a salvo: "[Nuciforo] knows I'll mention his corporate $$ and the Clean Elections Law he repealed. Pesky facts!"

The Nuciforo campaign said they didn't mean to imply they weren't willing to debate Shein.

"The only reason we didn't send it to him is because we prioritize having the sitting congressman there," said Patrick J. Tool, Nuciforo's spokesman. "We are all open to having all three candidates there."

To reach Ned Oliver:
noliver@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6240.
On Twitter: @BE_NedOliver