Fight for the Fifth District

By Denebola
Published: September 2007

By Rebecca Goldstein

The Massachusetts fifth Congressional district will hold a special election on October 16 to fill the seat vacated by longtime representative Marty Meehan, who resigned from the House of Representatives on July 1.

Meehan, who represented the fifth district for 14 years, left his seat to become chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Meehan graduated from the university in 1978.

The fight for the seat, once thought to be a Democratic shoe-in, has become fierce. The Democratic candidate Niki Tsongas, widow of Paul Tsongas, held the Congressional seat in the fifth from 1974 to 1978, served as a Massachusetts senator from 1978 to 1984, and ran for president in 1992.

The Republican candidate Jim Ogonowski is a retired Air Force lieutenant and businessman whose brother was a pilot on one of the flights hijacked on 9/11 out of Logan airport.

Tsongas’ main strategy is to nationalize the election–she wants to encourage voters to vote on national issues like the war in Iraq and health care instead of local issues. She attempts to use the unpopularity of President George W. Bush to her advantage.

“Make no mistake this election will be a referendum on the presidency of George W. Bush,” Tsongas said in her victory speech after she won the Democratic primary against Lowell City Councillor Eileen Donoghue.

Tsongas favors a timetable to withdraw American troops from Iraq.

“I want to change our direction whereas my Republican opponent Jim Ogonowski favors the status quo,” she said in a September 14 press release.

For his part, Jim Ogonowski pitches himself as a down-toearth small businessman and farmer. His television commercial features images of him on a tractor and states: “we don’t a tractor and states: “we don’t need another politician.”

Furthermore, he has been fighting against Tsongas’ portrayals of his opinion on the war.

“The Bush administration has made many mistakes,” he said in a September 14 press release.

O g o n o w s k i w o n t h e Republican primary over attorney Tom Tierney.

In a recent poll on the election, commissioned b y WBZ-TV a n d t a k e n by Survey USA, reports that Tsongas has a tenp e r c e n t a g e – p o i n t l e a d o f 5 1% t o 4 1% o v e r Ogonowski.

Tsongas has a 2:1 lead among voters who feel that the country is “off on the wrong track,” and Ogonowski has a 4:1 lead among voters who feel that the country is “headed in the right direction.”

The two have already participated in a debate held on September 26. They will return to the podium tonight and on October 9.

I f Ts o n g a s wi n s , s h e will be the first woman e l e c t e d t o t h e Ma s s a – chusetts Congressional delegation since 1982. If Ogonowski wins, he will be the first Republican e l e c t e d t o t h e Ma s s a – chusetts Congressional delegation since 1996.

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