ALFORD, Mass. — Alford writer and congressional candidate Bill Shein has challenged what he says are "misrepresentative" statements made by opponent Richard Neal in two media interviews last week.
Shein took issue with remarks made by the incumbent 2nd Massachusetts U.S. representative in two interviews that aired on Friday, one on WGBY public television and one on WAMC public radio.
During an interview on WGBY's "Connecting Point," Neal stated that both Shein and Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., Middle Berkshire register of deeds, first entered the race against retiring U.S. Rep. John W. Olver.
The three men are vying for the Democrat nomination to fill Olver's seat in the Sept. 6 primary. With no other challenger, the primary will determine the outcome of the November election.
"These candidacies were based upon John Olver being the congressman," said Neal, of Springfield. "I frankly think John did a terrific job in the 1st Congressional District, and the decision that was rendered to challenge John Olver escapes me. Only to discover that they were then placed in a Hampden County-based congressional district."
Though Nuciforo indicated his intention in 2008 to run for Congress in the Berkshires this year, Shein first announced his intent to run on Monday, Jan. 16, of this year.
Olver announced in October 2011 that he would retire at the end of his 10th term.
The state Legislature voted in November to redraw the districts in a way that merged parts of the former 1st District with Neal's home territory in the 2nd District and reduced the number of congressional districts from 10 to nine.
"I decided to run after realizing that Western Massachusetts was in danger of no longer having a bold, outspoken progressive voice in the Congress next January," said Shein in a statement over the weekend,
"someone who champions fixes to our democracy, fairness in our economy, and urgent action on climate change and other environmental issues."
Olver, citing Neal as "a great friend and partner in the House," endorsed him in his run for the newly redrawn district in February.
Shein also objected to another statement by Neal, which aired on WAMC on Friday, regarding how his campaign is financed.
"The fundraising that I've done is very similar to President Obama, Senator Kerry, and Elizabeth Warren, and much of the rest of the congressional delegation in Massachusetts," Neal told WAMC, in regards to ongoing discussions about the role of money in this election.
"President Obama's campaign committee does not accept a single penny from political action committees or registered lobbyists," responded Shein in a statement. "By comparison, Rep. Neal raises most of his money from PACs and lobbyists, and regularly attends fundraisers thrown specifically for him by corporate lobbyists."
Regarding comparison to Warren's campaign against incumbent Scott Brown for U.S. Senate, Shein says "only 2 percent of Elizabeth Warren's $15.8 million raised has come from PACs — and just 11 percent of her small total of PAC contributions are from corporate interests. By comparison, in this cycle, Rep. Neal has raised fully 76 percent of his money from PACs, with an eye-popping 94 percent [of this portion] from big corporate PACs."
Representatives for Neal reached on Tuesday declined to comment on Shein's statements.
Money has been an issue of heated debate throughout the last few months of campaign talk surrounding this congressional race. All three candidates on the ballot released campaign financing reports for the first quarter of 2012 in late April, demonstrating a continued considerable lead in funds for Neal over his two
Neal raised a total of $122,875 between January and March, compared to $42,493 for Nuciforo and $11,235 for Shein, but the latter candidates pointed to distinctions in the breakdown of income. A majority ($101,250) of Neal's quarterly gain came from committees and PACs, from whom his opponents say they will not accept contributions.
Nuciforo pointed out that he outraised Neal 2 to 1 in individual contributions, while Shein, who only accepts donations of $99 or less, touted his more than $11,000 in unitemized individual contributions (under $200) over Neal's $4,125 in this small donation category.
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