Saturday September 1, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON

Richie Neal is going to win his primary against Andrea Nuciforo Jr. and Bill Shein. Neal has a great deal going for him. He is articulate, brilliant, the heart of the Democratic Party in Congress and he has the ability to really bring home the bacon for his new district. There is a good chance that he may even ascend to the chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

His two opponents are both good men. Nuciforo made a strategic mistake when he challenged one of the most liberal members of Congress, the current 1st Con gressional District U.S. Rep. John Olver, two years in advance. Not surprisingly, after announcing he wouldn't seek re-election, Olver endorsed Richie Neal, saying that on the issues, there was no difference between himself and Neal.

Despite having worked hard, Nuciforo hasn't been able to make significant progress in the more populated portion of the district around Springfield while voters there know Neal well.

Neal was the mayor of Spring field and has taught journalism at UMass-Amherst for years. He has appeared on WAMC regularly, and I have gotten to know him and respect his views. He pushed hard to keep the United States involved in the Ireland peace process, serves as president of the Friends of Ireland in the House and knows more about Ireland than anyone I know.

Nuciforo, who I have always considered a friend, has not made the case for his promotion to Congress. He stunned a lot of people when he ran for Middle Berkshire register of deeds, which many felt was a step down from his position as state senator.


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As a register, he was also allowed to keep practicing law.

Andrea's father was a respected state senator and judge and many people still remember him fondly. As the years have passed, however, that name association no longer brings with it the same rewards it once did. Fewer people remember his late father, a wonderful man and a scion of the old Berkshires.

Things have changed, as evidenced by the fact that while Republican Silvio O. Conte represented us in Congress for many years, this year, there isn't a Republican in sight.

Proving that in this election is Democrat Bill Shein, the writer, activist and humorist. He has added a great deal to this race. In fact, there is the possibility that he may actually out-poll Nuciforo. That would certainly be a shock. Shein's motto is "Enough!" When it comes to his positions on most of the issues, he simply can't be beat.

If Barack Obama had more of Shein and less compromise in his position, he would not have to work so hard to motivate his base. You name the issue and Shein is where he ought to be, whether it's universal health care or the insidious relationship of money and politics.

There is a distinct possibility that Shein will carry the Hill in Great Barrington where you can see one sign after another in front of many of the tony houses. Shein has a brilliant future in politics and will clearly be in a position to run for office again when something opens up.

I have always understood that the most important quality in any candidate for elected office is character. It is much more than simply articulating positions.

When making choices, we need to examine what a person has accomplished. When you look at Elizabeth Warren, you see a woman who really may crack the glass ceiling and who deserves to represent this state that has never had a female U.S. senator. I'll vote for her and for Richie Neal.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.