I don’t usually comment on anything contained in the Sunday Lowell Sun “Column“, but one item this week caught my attention. It wasn’t that developer David Daly employed former city manager John Cox as a “consultant” on his proposal for a housing development on Westview Road, although that did explain a lot, especially the newspaper’s one-sided support for that project. (Note: I live on Westview and oppose the project). And it wasn’t that Daly, who I assume intends to continue doing business in Lowell into the future, took some very public and strong shots at state representative Kevin Murphy and Lowell Mayor Patrick Murphy, two guys with long memories and well-established political skills. No, the thing that really caught my attention was the section about former state senator Steve Panagiotakos predicting the defeat of not only Elizabeth Warren, but also of his former House colleague Colleen Garry, who has represented Dracut and Tyngsborough since 1995 and who faces a tough general election race with Republican Cathy Richardson of Dracut. Here’s what Panagiotakos said, according to the newspaper:
PANAGIOTAKOS, WHO attended the Dracut selectmen’s meeting on Tuesday, offered a Sun reporter his prediction on the hotly contested Elizabeth Warren versus Scott Brown U.S. Senate race. He said that race could influence the outcome of the 36th Middlesex state rep race between Democratic incumbent Colleen Garry and Republican challenger Cathy Richardson — in Richardson’s favor. Panagiotakos, a Democrat, said he expects Brown will defeat Warren statewide and hold onto his seat, due partly to favorable results in historically Republican-leaning towns, such as Tyngsboro and Dracut.
“Scott Brown is going to win that (36th Middlesex) District pretty decisively, and I’d bet Romney ends up winning the district also,” said Panagiotakos.
What about Massachusetts’ reputation for being more favorable to Democratic candidates? Panagiotakos was asked.
“Brown was never ‘hard-right,’ and (his opponents) can’t turn him into a right-wing Jesse Helms,” Panagiotakos responded. “(Brown’s) been in the middle, moderate. He’s got the likability quotient, while Warren can be considered much more of an extremist, way to the left in her own party.”
Panagiotakos said Richardson should be helped by Brown’s strong showing in Dracut and Tyngsboro, and will probably end Garry’s 18-year run as the incumbent as a result.
The first thing that struck me was surprise that Steve would say that about Colleen on the record which I’m guessing he did not. It seemed to be the type of casual, free-flowing chat one might have off-the-record and then be startled to see in print for all to read. But that’s just pure speculation on my part. While Cathy Richardson is certainly a strong candidate and that district is quite conservative, Colleen is an excellent politician who won a very tough race back in 1994 to win in the first place, so it’s pretty early to be counting her out.
As for Elizabeth Warren, I have no idea whether she will win on November 6. I hope that she does for at least two reasons. First, Scott Brown might sincerely be moderate in most of his views, but when he gets to Washington he’ll vote for some of the most extreme political figures in the history of this republic for leadership posts in the U.S. Senate and that would not be a good thing. Second, Warren has spent her career studying and speaking out about the plight of the middle class. For the past 30 years, this country has witnessed the most profound redistribution of wealth in its history. But it’s not a redistribution from the rich to the poor; it’s been a redistribution from the middle class to the very rich. Warren wants to reverse that trend, to reign in abuses on home mortgages, student loans and credit card agreements. If that puts her “way to the left of her own party”, then sign me up. Her stand on most other issues is very centrist by Democratic Party standards. Many throw out that “extremist” label without a lot of substantive evidence to back it up. We’ll get a good opportunity tonight to see for ourselves where Warren (and Brown) stand on the issues when they debate at UMass Lowell.