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Congressional race could be killer

February 20, 2012
By G. Michael Dobbs
news@thereminder.com
I'm pulling on my swami turban and gazing into my Magic 8 Ball. My prediction? This Congressional race is going to be a killer.
If Congressman Richard Neal felt some heat from Republican candidate Tom Wesley — who proved to offer Neal some real competition — how is the veteran representative going to fare with two members of his own party going after him?
If Andrea Nuciforo and Bill Shein campaign the way I think they are going to campaign, at the very least we may see on a regional basis what political junkies have been watching on a national basis with the Republican primary: a redefinition of what being a Democrat is all about.
We've seen the Republican candidates try their best not to be classified as being a "moderate" and I wonder if that is going to hold true in this congressional race. Will the challengers positions themselves as populists? Will they want to be seen more to the left as Neal?
Shein sent a press release earlier this week praising Congressman John Olver in general but noting a bit of frustration that Olver has endorsed Neal. Observers shouldn't forget that at one point a Neal versus Olver battle had been seen as a real possibility.
The endorsement didn't surprise me, as I've not seen Olver as someone who challenges the status quo. When you spend the amount of time in Congress that he has, he is part of that status quo.
With Neal's considerable war chest, this race could come down to money, but the wild card will be whether or not the new additions to the district — Pittsfield and Holyoke, among them — will be open to new ideas and candidates.
Holyoke may be a very wild card. The voters there have shown a willingness to think outside of the conventional political box with the election of Alex Morse to mayor.
***

Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette used an insightful line during his state of the city address describing the casino developers as capable of "chewing up" Western Massachusetts residents and local governments in their efforts to land a casino license here.
I think we will see a tremendous amount of marketing pressure applied as we get closer to the time at which casino developers will seek the approval of communities to put a casino in their midst. And keeping my swami turban on, I predict it will get ugly.
But that time, as Bissonnette pointed out, is a long time off. He predicted the Commonwealth wouldn't see an open casino for at least five years.
By then I hope we won't need them as a lifesaver to our economies. I'm sorry that some people truly believe we need them at all.
***

A local television station has been adding a slightly subliminal tagline to the end of many of its ad lib interactions between the anchors and reporters. Someone will say, "And the beat goes on."
Huh? The first time I heard it I thought it was just hokey. The second or third time I knew it was deliberate.
Did some consultant advise them that they should say something to end a conversation and go on to the next item? I know that some consultants can tell people how to dress and style their hair and other consultants clearly believe viewers want to see the same damn weather forecast in the course of a half-hour because we are freaking idiots.
And of course, the weather forecast is wrong even though it was an Accu-view, 3-D super, in-your-backyard, pinpoint Doppler radar forecast.
Do they have to pay a royalty to the estate of Sonny Bono, who wrote the song with that line of lyric? It's on his tombstone, by the way.
What the hell does it mean in a news-reporting venue?
May I suggest some alternatives non-sequiturs just to keep things fresh? How about ending an ad lib moment of happy talk with:
  • "And what about those Mets?"
  • "Damn, that's good coffee!"
  • " Different day, same ****!"
  • "Hey, it's thirsty Thursday!" (only to be used on Thursdays naturally).
  • "Love that hair!"
  • "Shoes!"
Maybe I should go into consulting.
Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.
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