Debate week in review

Posted by Jeremy Shulkin

This week has a hosted a number of debates, and because you can never have too much information about local races, we’ll try to recap three of the big ones.

On Tuesday, WCRN’s morning team of Peter Blute and Hank Stolz had on the district 13 state representative hopefuls, and had the Worcester County Sheriff candidates yesterday morning. (This morning they hosted Fran Ford and Jen Caissie, who are running for governor’s council, and on Wednesday they featured Ken O’Brien, Kim Ferguson and Jonathan Long, all running for the 1st district state rep. seat.)

As you’ve probably read in the Telegram, Wednesday night featured a debate at Shrewsbury High School between Patrick Barron, Marty Lamb and Jim McGovern for the 3rd congressional seat.

Let’s take them in the order they happened. (Warning: This is long and could be boring.)

District 13 State Rep: Paul Franco (R), Ronal Madnick (i), John Mahoney (D)

The debate was rapid-fire, with each candidate allowed only a minute or so to make their points. While it was probably frustrating to have so little time to articulate positions, each one did a good job at distinguishing themselves from one another. And we learned that Ron Madnick is very good at distilling his points into soundbites.

Franco probably had the easiest time revealing who he is , in part because his beliefs on taxes and the scope of government differs from Mahoney (answering all three ballot questions with a simple “yes” makes a very clear point), but also because the political climate right now gives more flexibility to those moving right than those who move left. Franco had an easier time stating exactly where he stood, came across as confident and probably made some people more excited to vote for him than they were before.

That’s not to say Mahoney didn’t make good points. He wants legislation posted online posted 48 hours before a vote, singled out the previous three Democratic speakers of the house who were indicted and showed that wasteful spending when any party is in control is not something to let slide (referencing the $500,000/unit federally funded condos on the corner of Main and Chandler streets). He also came out in favor of keeping the alcohol tax, even though he’s a bar owner and has received contributions from Horizon Beverages and Atlas Distributing. Mahoney also said he will vote no on question 3, but would like to see the legislature cut back the sales tax to 5%.

Madnick got a considerable amount of air time, made Franco and Mahoney react to him and got his views in there. As an ACLU director, when the discussion touched on abortion, the death penalty and same-sex marriage, he could back up what he believed (pro-choice, anti-death penalty, pro-same-sex marriage) with a long record of fighting for those in Worcester. Mahoney has similar beliefs to Madnick on these, while Franco is against late-term abortion, wants voters to choose whether or not same sex marriage is legal and thinks the death penalty should be an option.

Education came up, and again, the candidates didn’t have many similarities. Franco blamed teachers’ unions for standing in the way of making schools better, and he and Madnick agreed that state standards shouldn’t be aligned with the fed’s since we’ve got one of the highest ranked systems in the country. Mahoney came out against Charter schools, saying they were “here to stay” and have had success here, but that they “cherry pick” students from the public schools.

Finally, illegal immigration and benefits came up — especially in the wake of the Herald‘s report about EBT cards being used to buy alcohol, cigarettes and lotto tickets.

Franco said every government entitlement program should be scrutinized and illegal aliens shouldn’t receive benefits. Madnick said that wasn’t the best policy, because there are cases where illegals need hospital treatment. Mahoney said that the thing about EBT is it’s electronic, so spending could be tracked better, and that the state already has safeguards preventing illegals from receiving benefits.


US Representative, 3rd Congressional district: Patrick Barron (i), Marty Lamb (R), Jim McGovern (D)

It’s hard to describe this debate without using the word “ridiculous.”  Between the rowdy crowd (for all candidates), the moderator taking a time out to express her disappointment regarding their behavior and McGovern’s constitution slip of the tongue (more on that later) there was plenty to distract viewers from actually focusing on what each candidate said.

Despite some fairly rigid rules to keep this from happening, the audience, and even Barron and Lamb, did what they could to turn this into one of those town hall meetings made famous right before the healthcare bill passed earlier this year. Naturally, that atmosphere wasn’t friendly towards McGovern, despite the large pro-McGovern audience.

The first question touched on terrorism. After some guidance from the moderator to get on track, Lamb cited terrorism, China’s ownership of US debt and Iran as the largest threats to our security, following those up with a porous border, migrant workers and human traffickers.

McGovern agreed with terrorism (Al-Qaeda specifically), and said the Afghan and Iraq wars have distracted our fight against it. “Loose nukes” was another issue, and wants to rekindle the STAR treaty the US has with Russia. He added that global poverty, hunger and illiteracy all go hand in hand with unstable countries and terrorism, and brought it back locally by saying resources for local police and fire are just as important to keeping the country safe as a strong military is.

Barron took a different tack, saying we’re our own worst enemy, and special interests and political parties have made us more susceptible to foreign dangers.

As for the economy, McGovern went back to his record of projects he helped get off the ground, such as Worcester’s Gateway Park. He pointed out he voted for 16 small business tax cuts, the need for extending unemployment benefits and ending trade agreements that “sell out American workers.”

Barron said that the Bush tax cuts should be continued, the capital gains tax should be frozen and a flat tax/fair tax should be looked at to replace the current tax system.

Lamb, who is a small business owner, said 3/4 of all jobs created in the US come from small businesses. He said the previous four years of job policy have led to job losses, and that green jobs are important, but we need “red jobs, blue jobs, purple jobs” too.

As for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, there were more strong differences. Barron would like to see full-benefit civil unions (but said he has no issue with gay marriage) and that DADT should be repealed because it’s “very reactionary.”

Lamb sidestepped DOMA by saying “it’s the law right now” and that the federal government shouldn’t get involved in marriage anyway. Similarly, on DADT he wants to wait for military reports from generals. “I’m not going to put my two cents into that issue without their input.”

McGovern succinctly said he opposes both. “It’s 2010. It’s time we move past discrimination,” and added that since DADT was enacted in 1994, 14,000 men and women have been discharged from the military because of it.

That was the end of the pre-submitted questions by the League of Women Voters (the debate’s sponsors), and audience portion began. Most questions (at least until the moderator told the audience questions couldn’t be directed at one candidate) were aimed at having McGovern defend his votes on health care reform, the stimulus bill and the threat of illegal immigrants.

McGovern addressed immigrants by saying he was for amnesty — the same bill George W. Bush, John McCain and Ted Kennedy were in favor of, but Barron and Lamb disagreed — and Barron accused Democrats of favoring amnesty because it would help create a “voting block.”

Barron also attacked McGovern by saying he received his powerful position in congress by buying it, which drew loud boos from the audience.

More debate arose over the 10th amendment –specifically the “interstate commerce” and “general welfare” clauses, and how they related to health care. Lamb supporters argued that interstate commerce doesn’t mean the government can force you to buy health care, while McGovern pointed out that if the “general welfare” clause was repealed, then important civil rights, Roe v. Wade and child labor laws wouldn’t stand ground.

While talking about the recent court decision that allows corporations to donate to political campaigns, McGovern made the national attention grabbing gaffe “the constitution is wrong.” Anyone actually at the debate, even Lamb and Barron supporters, know that it was a slip up, as he meant to say “supreme court” (although he didn’t help himself later when he was confronted by a questioner about it, and he said he didn’t say that). Lamb’s campaign should be thankful for that slip up for more than just the soundbite. A couple minutes later Lamb was asked about his position to abolish the Dept. of Education, which he said was “pure wrong.” McGovern then pulled out one of the many pledges Lamb signed which called for just that. Of course, the constitution quote will overshadow everything else.

After seeing the debate it’s hard to argue that McGovern didn’t win. He simply has knowledge of what he’s voted on, in most cases was able to answer pointed questions with equally pointed answers and gave specifics when necessary. Barron did well, considering no one’s seen much of a campaign from him, but after a while his real plan just seemed to be less government, with no specifics as to where and how and what special interests are bad.

Without the crowd there, I’m not sure how Lamb would’ve done. He was boosted by the cheering and shouts of “socialist” when McGovern spoke, and played to it, at one point pulling a copy of the constitution out of his pocket. That’s one way to get a point across, I guess. Many questions were aimed at McGovern, so it was easy for Barron and Lamb to give the “wanted” answer while McGovern generally had to play on the defensive.


Worcester County Sheriff: Lew Evangelidis (R), Tom Foley (D), Keith Nicholas (i)

Nicholas presents himself as a non-political police officer who thinks the sheriff’s office should be a non-partisan agency. Foley has carved out the campaign that his work experience makes him the most qualified candidate and Evangelidis claims to be the one going in there without connections, and can end the system of patronage and waste at the jail. For an hour on Thursday morning, none of them wavered from their campaign stances.

There we disagreements about how current outgoing sheriff Guy Glodis ran the jail with Evangelidis saying Glodis did a “good job” while Foley said he made it more political than he should have. Nicholas agreed with Foley, saying the current sheriff used it as a stepping stone. All said former sheriff Mike Flynn started out strong, but said it was time for him to go when he did.

As far as illegal immigrants in the jail are concerned, all took a muted and rational stance. Nicholas said minor criminals should be deported so we don’t have to pay for them, but those who commit serious crimes should be locked up, otherwise they’ll go free somewhere else — a position Evangelidis and Foley echoed. Foley called the deportation stance “populist spin” right now, and sheriffs don’t have the authority to deport. Evangelidis said he’d use the “bully pulpit” of the office to get non-violent offenders deported.

Of course, Foley’s pension came up. Foley’s got the defense of it down pat by this point. Whether or not you accept his explanation, he’s unwavering as he defends himself, which makes it harder for Evangelidis’ (and to some extent, Nicholas’) round-about attacks on it to stick.

There were some differences regarding community services. Nicholas said his first focus would be on the inside of the jail, while Foley and Evangelidis said they’d look to save communities money via regional lockups and work-release programs.

All three favor inmate fees, but to varying degrees. Evangelidis co-sponsored the House’s legislation, but Foley warned that many inmates are in prison specifically because they don’t have money. Nicholas said a prisoner’s daily fee should be assigned by the courts.

Nicholas did well, making specific points and taking shots at Foley and Evangelidis when he deemed them too political. Foley answered questions calmly and methodically, but he and Evangelidis took shots at each other which were reminiscent of his primary with Bove — I’m not sure that’s a race he wants to re-live. Evangelidis spent a lot of time on the defensive, arguing why he was qualified for the job and tramping down claims that he was using this to further a political career (his defense: he wasn’t elected into politics until he was 41 years old). I don’t think any of them “lost,” per se, but Foley did what he had to do: keep the focus off his pension and rely on his background. He might not have won a lot of new votes, but he didn’t lose any.



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18 responses to “Debate week in review

  1. 13th Voter

    A Democrat fighting corruption on Beacon Hill?
    That is laughable. I mean, does John really think that the voters are that STUPID to believe that sending a Dem to Beacon Hill will change anything?

    ALSO Mahoney is Endorsed by the SEIU.
    They just sent out a mailer for him this week.
    Mahoney is just more of the same old same old that the voters are so tired of.

    Mahoney does not have a stable employment record. He has been jumping from job to job for years. All “sales” type jobs. Don’t be sold by this guy, he is looking to be a state rep because he needs a decent paying job.

  2. Bob K.

    McGovern didn’t slip up when he said the constitution was wrong – it is what he believes – just as all progressives do — No mention in this article that McGovern read the answers to the first questions – of course he was on point – he brought prepared answers to prepared questions – it was when he was “off prompter” that the gaffs began … this biased reporter is obviously in the bag for McGovern …. Lamb won this debate hands down – the only candidate with real plans and real reforms … 7 terms is enough Mr. McGovern – Maybe your friend Fidel has some room in his government for you … I hear that he wants to implement more democratic reforms in his failed Cuban Communist Regime! Adios Jaime!

  3. Enough Already

    Your assertion that McGovern’s controversial comment was a “slip of the tongue” does not necessarily make it so. He said, “the Constitution is wrong” and whether it was a slip or not is a matter of opinion.

    McGovern’s statement is not a surpise to those who are familiar with his actions. What can we expect from a Congressman who has been exposed for having connections to Castro and Chavez? The photos of McGovern looking cozy with Piedad Cordoba and Castro are all over the internet and are particularly known to freedom-loving Hispanics who have a disdain for his brand of Socialism. For those who don’t know, Piedad Cordoba is a recently de-seated Senator in Colombia who conspired with Chavez to help the FARC terrorists against her own country. McGovern has Communist and Socialist friends in the lowest of places. He’s a member of the Progressive Caucus and the DSA. Photos shown during this broadcast o “America Ers T”–Socialists in Washington:
    MA and the USA needs Marty Lamb!!

    For these actions, I am unwilling to extend the benefit of doubt on what he may have meant. He has been endorsed by SEIU and other Unions. Maybe he should recuse himself from accepting funds from these organizations.

  4. Mycroft

    I wish I could write the prepared answers for Rep. McGovern in the next debate. He will debate again right? I noticed the McGovern sidewalk sign holders in Holden were not there when I went by yesterday. As I was with my homemade “RE-ELECT NO ONE” sign the night before I noticed them leave early to go to the debate. They must have heard enough not to show last night.

  5. Having watched John Pilger’s documentary The War On Democracy, any friend of Hugo Chavez is a friend of mine. I would much prefer true supply/demand capitalism over our current system of monopoly capitalism and some politicians’ (of both parties) push toward so-called “socialism” (covert monopolism). But since a monopoly/oligopoly economic system in some form is the only “choice” we’re given right now, I can only vote for the candidate I judge to be the least self-interested.

  6. Zorig

    I cannot comment on the Franco/Madnick/Mahoney debate as I was not there. There are distinct differences among the candidates, and I urge all prospective voters to meet all the candidates and come to their own conclusion. I also urge the voters to examine the accomplishments of all candidates. On that score it is clear that Mr. Mahoney lags far behind the others. Mr. Franco has a distinguished career ensuring that disabled soldiers receive their just medical benefits. Mr. Madnick is head of the local ACLU chapter. One must credit him for that, even though many of the views of the ACLU I disagree with. So for me, Mr. Franco has earned my vote.
    I was at the Evangelidis/Nicholas/Foley debate last night. First, I must say I was appalled at the behavior of the Foley people sitting in the audience. This is a debate among candidates for a public office, and the catcalling by the Foley people was obnoxious. They belonged in a soccer match or a strip joint, not at a debate. Even Mr. Foley was embarrassed by his supporters.
    It is clear that all three candidates have strengths. But it was clear Mr. Foley is crippled by the disability issue. It just won’t go away no matter how much rationalizing he does. As an average guy working for a living trying to pay his mortgage, I cannot understand how someone can collect $115,000 TAX FREE on a stress related disability and still collect another $100,000 for being sheriff. I would think being a sheriff has plenty of stress.
    As to the Lamb/McGovern/Barron debate, I was there as well. Supporters of both Lamb and McGovern were disrespectful and out of line. However neither Barron, McGovern nor Lamb were the instigators. The writer is dead wrong on this. >>Despite some fairly rigid rules to keep this from happening, the audience, and even Barron and Lamb, did what they could to turn this into one of those town hall meetings made famous right before the healthcare bill passed earlier this year.<< is inaccurate. Watch the video.
    I thought the moderator was terrible in the early part of the debate. The planned questions were insipid and trite. I was surprised, however, that Mr. McGovern had to read every word of his response. After doing some research on Mr. McGovern on and also finding out he has sponsored only six bills enacted by Congress, and ALL of those pertain to the naming of post offices, I have come to the conclusion that Mr. McGovern is not a great thinker. We can do better this time. Mr. Lamb is has proposed creative ideas for today's times and he has articulated these ideas. Mr. McGovern offers nothing this time around. The same old thing will yield the same old result.

  7. RWB

    While I am willing to concede that Rep McGovern probably meant to say he disagreed with the Supreme Court decision, he did say “the Constitution is wrong”. Since he said that, he has issued several excuses about that remark before he asked to be forgiven for a slip of the tongue. I am not in a forgiving mood. Rep McGovern has received $14,400 from Winn Development executives. They are the incumbent Democrat’s second highest contributors. It has been widely reported that a Winn top executive, Martin Raffol, pleaded guilty to illegally funneling campaign contributions to four Massachusetts congressmen and is evidently cooperating with authorities in an ongoing federal investigation. McGovern was not one of those, but why has the incumbent Democrat with over $1,000,000 campaign war chest kept that money when their contributions have been proven questionable. Perhaps Rep. McGovern’s campaign manager, Edward M. Augustus Jr., should concentrate his attention on the questionable donations that his candidate has received before he goes before the press to cast aspersions at Mr. Lamb for trying to hoodwink the voters by receiving support of “…some shadowy right-wing organization from Sparks, Nevada.”

  8. BUD


  9. BUD


  10. -Q

    John Mahoney is a man of integrity and honesty and it is quite apparent that his detractors are willing to character assassinate rather than discuss the issues and that is a major sign of weakness.
    The insulting and denegrating campaigning strategy of the 13th worc repub. campaign and its minions is certainly going to backfire.

  11. objectivist

    I was at the Congressional debate. It was clearly won by Patrick Barron. Marty Lamb came in second. James McGovern was a very distant third. Almost all of the questioners from the audience showed more knowledge of the issues than McGovern did. McGovern’s answer to everything was bigger government. No wonder he thinks the Constitution is wrong. It is the people’s protection against unlimited government.

  12. 13th Voter

    Today the T&G endorsed Question 1.
    That means that they share the same opinion that Lieutenant Colonel Paul Franco, recipient of a Meritorious Service Medal for his work at Walter Reed Army Medical Center representing our Wounded Warriors, has on the Question.

    This also means that they disagree with M&M, Madnick and Mahoney’s stances on the Question.

    It is well written. Education yourself and read it.

    Mahoney is against this question because that is what the Democrat machine told him that he must say. Same old Same old!

  13. 13th Voter

    Q – I guess that you missed the debate on WCRN.

    The issues were discussed and it is clear where everyone stands. There may be two or three more debates, also Jeremy Shulkin called Franco the winner on the Jim Polito show on Thursday morning. Said something along the lines of Franco clearly believes what he is saying and that make him confidant and the winner. I would guess that implies that Jeremy believe that Mahoney did not look sincere.

    Worcester Mag reporter saying this, not me and not you.

  14. another 13th worc.voter

    Clearly Mahoney was far superior than either madnick or franco on WCRN. Mahoney has a grasp of what the issues are and the solutions to solve them and unlike madnick and franco – Mahoney stayed true to his cause and was not flip-flopping all over the political spectrum changing parties, status etc.. It was Mahoney who had the courage to take on a sitting incumbant while madnick and franco were still deciding what poltical party to belong to and how to skip a primary un-opposed – no one deserves an easy seat and thats what madnick and franco are shooting for. No one knows what to believe from madnick and franco or where they stand on the issues. Why franco had just become a republican a little over a year ago and then he decided to throw his support to the teaparty – franco seems to lack stability and vision. Certainly not what the voters of the 13th Worcester seat are looking for

  15. Hardly an interesting read here. It’s the same ole voter BS.

    If this is what the electorate thinks are the facts and issues, its no wonder that polits can take them for a ride.

    Leave it to Q to give the locals insight into the workings of the candidate’s mind. Damn that’s sumptin! Maybe Q and Mahoney are on the same wavelength – telepathically that is… and can see inside the guy’s soul too.

    Fact is, Q hasn’t a clue as to what’s going on.

  16. -Q

    figures the ’13th voter poster’ would go along with the tea partier neo-con polito nothing different there
    Heres a thought 13th voter – how about you make up your own mind rather than what the politos/shulkins have to say……
    why this 13th voter even speaks word for word just like francos campaign manager……
    I wonder if there is a connection there?

  17. TruthBeTold

    Today the T&G endorsements came out.
    It seems they share some view points with Jeremy Shulkin.

    Keep up the good work Jeremy.

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