Friday, May 11, 2007




Wednesday Democratic congressman Marty Meehan formally submitted his resignation from the House in order to take over as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell on July 1. The 5th CD, which he represented since 1992, is solidly Democratic and the whole ball game is the special primary September 4. (The actual election between the winner of the primary and whoever the Republicans offer up will be October 16). Solidly Democratic... but how progressive? Meehan has the 112th most progressive voting record among House Democrats. All his Massachusetts colleagues have done better with the exception of one: Stephen Lynch, a South Boston moderate. Statewide, Bush won 37% of the vote in 2004 and he did somewhat better in Meehan's district (41%).

The Repugs in the district will use Air Force Lt. Col. James Ogonowski as their standard bearer. There are all kinds of Democrats eager to succeed him. Some are better than others. So far the best known are Niki Tsongas, Middlesex Community College Dean and the widow of Senator Paul Tsongas, who also once held this seat; Lowell City Councilor Eileen Donoghue; State Rep. James Miceli; State Rep. Barry Finegold; and State Rep. Jamie Eldridge.

In terms of the records the 3 state legislators have accrued, there is no question who is the outstanding progressive: Jamie Eldridge. The best district blog, is all over the race and posted an excellent piece on Eldridge yesterday, right after he formally announced his candidacy.
While he knows from his time as a Legal Aid attorney in Lowell that LGH provides fantastic care to its patients, he also knows that the current health care system just doesn’t do enough.  That’s why Jamie contends that the only real solution to our health care crisis is universal single payer health care coverage.  The first thing Eldridge will do when he gets to Congress is sign on as a co-sponsor the National Health Insurance Act legislation now pending.  Jamie reached back into history to answer critics who contend that universal health care is unrealistic.  According to the candidate, those are the same objections heard by Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s when he proposed the social security system (and look how that’s worked out).  In fact, it is an element of the social security system – medicare – that proves that a single payer system not only works but works well. 
Eldridge also touched on the war in Iraq, saying we’re long past the time for non-binding resolutions; it’s time to bring the troops home and end our involvement in this conflict.  (In a response to a later question about an immediate withdrawal signaling an acceptance of our defeat, Eldridge asserted that we’ve already been defeated and that the continued presence of US troops in the country just fuels the insurgency).

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