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In unusual twist, primary challenges loom for 5 in US House

  • The Massachusetts State House in Boston



Associated Press
Saturday, May 19, 2018

BOSTON — Several members of Massachusetts’ all-Democratic congressional delegation are getting a run for their money this year — from within their own party.

Five of the eight House incumbents seeking re-election face challenges in the September primary, pending final certification of nominating signatures.

How unusual is that?

Two years ago, not a single Democratic incumbent was opposed in the primary. The last time as many as five Democrats incumbents faced primary challenges in Massachusetts was after a congressional redistricting in 1992, according to state election records.

While the state’s congressional delegation is already considered among the most liberal in Washington, most of the challengers appear to be positioning themselves to the left of the incumbents.

Three of the five challengers are women, two of whom are African-American.

A district-by-district glance at how House races are shaping up in the state’s nine congressional districts:

1ST DISTRICT: Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, a Springfield attorney, is challenging veteran U.S. Rep. Richard Neal in the Democratic primary.

Amatul-Wadud cites health care, climate change and improved access to high speed internet as among her priorities.

A mother of seven, she serves on the Massachusetts Commission for the Status of Women. If elected, she’d be the first Muslim to serve in Congress from Massachusetts.

Neal was elected to Congress in 1988, making the one-time Springfield mayor the longest-serving member of the state’s U.S. House delegation. He’s the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

2ND DISTRICT: Rep. Jim McGovern, of Worcester, is one of three Democratic incumbents in the Massachusetts delegation without primary opposition this year. He was first elected to the House in 1996.

Three Republicans, Tracy Lovvorn, Jeremy Kurtz and Kevin Powers are vying for the GOP nomination.

3RD DISTRICT: The decision by Rep. Niki Tsongas, of Lowell, to retire after more than a decade in the House has set off a political free-for-all in the district with up to a dozen Democrats set to compete in the September primary. The winner will likely face Republican Rick Green, a businessman from Pepperell, in November.

4TH DISTRICT: Not many Democrats would think to challenge a Kennedy in Massachusetts. But Gary Rucinski, a computer software project manager from Newton, is doing just that, filing papers to run against Rep. Joe Kennedy in the primary.

Rucinski, a member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, is satisfied with Kennedy’s performance on health care and other issues, but faults the incumbent’s leadership on tackling climate change.

Kennedy, a grandson of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, is in his third term. In January, he delivered the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.

5TH DISTRICT: Rep. Katherine Clark, of Melrose, won a special election to the House in 2013 to fill the seat vacated when Ed Markey was elected to the U.S. Senate. She has no Democratic primary opposition.

Republican John Hugo is seeking the GOP nomination.

6TH DISTRICT: Rep. Seth Moulton, of Salem, is also unopposed in the primary. The former U.S. Marine and Iraq War veteran was elected to the House in 2014, defeating incumbent Rep. John Tierney in the Democratic primary.

Republicans Joe Schneider and Carlos Hernandez have filed papers to run in their party’s primary.

7TH DISTRICT: Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley is challenging Democratic incumbent Michael Capuano, who is completing his 10th term in Congress. It’s been the most closely watched interparty challenge thus far.

Pressley said in announcing her candidacy that residents of her district needed more than an ally, they needed an advocate and a champion. She was the first black woman elected to the council.

Capuano, a former Somerville mayor, is considered among the most liberal members of the Massachusetts delegation. He has received several major endorsements, including from former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a key figure in the nation’s civil rights movement.

8TH DISTRICT: Generally considered the delegation’s most moderate member, Rep. Stephen Lynch has served in Congress since 2001.

The South Boston Democrat is being challenged in the primary by Brianna Wu, a software engineer and video game developer. Wu says she’s running against the status quo and seeks a “bolder Democratic party.”

In 2014, Wu became a target of GamerGate, an online harassment campaign which subjected several women in the video-game industry to misogynistic threats. The threats became so intense that Wu and her husband left their home.

9TH DISTRICT: Cape Cod resident Bill Cimbrelo has filed to challenge incumbent Rep. William Keating, of Bourne, in the Democratic primary.

In a campaign statement, Cimbrelo describes himself as a “progressive Democrat,” and suggests Keating has become too cozy with special interests.

Keating, a former district attorney, was first elected to the House in 2011 and serves on the Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security committees.

Republican Peter Tedeschi, who formerly headed his family-owned convenience store chain, is headed for the November ballot.