PITTSFIELD -- Although challenger Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. has increased the pace of his campaign fundraising for the new 1st Congressional seat, incumbent Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, has raked in five times more cash than Nuciforo and writer-activist Bill Shein of Alford combined.
The three men face off in the Sept. 6 Democratic primary, with the winner advancing to the general election on Nov. 6. There are no Republican Party challengers for the seat.
Nuciforo, in a phone interview, said the $61,485 he raised during the second quarter of the year -- as reported by the Federal Election Commission -- came entirely from private individual donations of $2,500 or less.
According to Nuciforo, Neal's total of $364,000 came mostly from political action committees (PACs) relying on contributions from Wall Street banks and from insurance companies.
"Our opponent has a corporate marketing budget," Nuciforo contended. "We will never have a base of corporate support like that. What we will have is enough money to compete and to win."
Nuciforo's total from April to June represented a 44 percent increase from the $42,493 he took in from January through March. He said he has received no PAC contributions this year, but noted that nearly two-thirds of Neal's second-quarter fundraising came from PACs.
As he has throughout the campaign, Nuciforo, the Mid dle Berkshire register of deeds and a former state senator, positioned himself as a "strong progressive Democrat" and depicted Neal as "the most conservative member of the Mas sachusetts delegation running in one of the most progressive districts in the country."
He also contrasted his support for consumer protection with what he described as Neal's support of Wall Street deregulation that led to the 2008 financial implosion.
Neal, in an email response from his campaign, asserted that "serious candidates raise money to get their message out to voters," citing the campaigns of President Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren, who is seeking to oust U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.
"Congressman Neal welcomes the contributions he receives from his many friends and supporters, and he will continue to run an aggressive campaign for re-election," the statement added.
Neal's campaign office statement also accused Nuciforo of hypocrisy, claiming that he "continues to accept campaign contributions from insurance and financial services executives in his campaign for Congress while criticizing Congressman Neal for doing so. He also voted against the clean election law as a state senator. He has not been challenged for his hypocritical and inconsistent approach to fundraising by the local media."
In response to that allegation, Nuciforo called Neal "a wholly owned subsidiary of the financial services sector" and said the identity and profession of his individual contributors are listed in his campaign-finance documents.
An examination of his filing showed direct donations from business executives, educational and health services officials, attorneys, architects and a wide variety of other occupations, as well as retirees.
For his part, Shein declared that he was proud to have been outspent by his opponents by a margin of 100 to 1. During the second quarter, he pulled in $6,700.
"The wealthiest corporations, Wall Street banks, Big Pharma, insurance companies and powerful Washington lobbyists are protecting their investment in the status quo," Shein stated.
"All of that corporate and lobbyist money works," he added. "It's distorting our democracy for the exclusive benefit of those who provide it -- in greater sums every election cycle -- to both Republican and Democratic lawmakers."
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Follow the money
Here's a snapshot of the campaign funds raised and current funds in the bank by the three candidates battling for the 1st Congressional District seat:
Second quarter 2012:
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal,
Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds Andrea Nuciforo: $61,495
Writer-activist Bill Shein of Alford: $6,700
Current campaign total:
In the bank:
Neal: $2.2 million (includes funds from previous campaigns)
Sources: Federal Election Commission filings; media reports