Readers Respond to Story on Congressman Neal

Several readers wrote in about our cover story on rural and progressive activist dissatisfaction of Congressman Richard Neal [“Can Rankled Rural Voters Dethrone Congressman Neal?” June 22-28, 2017]. Here are some of the responses.

Progressive Challenger Needed Against Neal

Terrific in-depth piece on Richie Neal. Thanks. Small correction: Neal was unopposed in the 2012 general, but was challenged in the post-redistricting Democratic primary in 2012 by former state Sen. Andy Nuciforo — and by me. The Advocate ran a number of good, thorough stories on the race. Thanks for continuing the tradition of shining some much-needed light on Neal.

I ran on what became the Sanders platform, and only accepted small contributions of $99 and less, no corporate/PAC/lobbyist money. My 2012 critique of Neal still stands: Out of touch, out of alignment with where western Massachusetts Democrats are, unapologetically unwilling to champion any political/campaign finance reform that might rock his boat, and willing/eager to see the party move even further to the center/right as he thinks that’s the path to fulfilling his dream to become chair of Ways & Means, which would be bad for America and for this district in myriad ways. By comparison, a Democratic majority with a bold, broadly supported progressive agenda would make a real difference.

He’s been the corporate lobbyists’ go-to guy on Ways and Means, where he regularly co-sponsors terrible GOP tax policy. It’s often arcane and hidden, but he’s one reason General Electric spent so many years paying no taxes, for example (see “active financing exception”) and tax code provisions that encouraged the very outsourcing of jobs and profit-shifting that has hurt our economy and federal tax revenue. And as you reported, he’s against much of the Sanders agenda.

I wish my friend Karen Lee and others great success is finding a solid challenger in ‘18. Neal will only engage with voters, and have his record truly scrutinized by voters and press, if he’s challenged. Otherwise, he and [Neal spokesman] Billy [Tranghese] will just keep putting out the same tired, largely nonresponsive statements to very legitimate criticism, and he’ll continue to fail us on many major progressive (and broadly Democratic) ideas. His support in Springfield and nearby is far softer than many realize, particularly if he faces a strong, credible, progressive challenger.

— Bill Shein, Alford

Why is Neal Ignoring Williamsburg Group?

Just read your piece on Richard Neal with interest. Full disclosure: I’m not his constituent (I’m Jim McGovern’s), but since it’s politics of western MA and close by, I’m interested nevertheless.

I’m wondering why you didn’t — unless you did, and didn’t put it in the article — ask a follow-up to the question posed about whether he’d meet with the Williamsburg group, and he said “Probably not.” Seems to me that he really needs to explain himself. Is he being an indignant spoiled-sport for the ad the group placed about him? We’re just left hanging after his response, and I wonder — specifically — why he won’t meet with them. He may well have a legitimate resson, but I’d be curious to know it.

Nice job on the article.

— Jim Cabral, Greenfield

Term Limits!!!

Enjoyed your article on Congressman Neal. Sara was spot on and the Indivisible ad, brilliant!! Believe we need more ads like this to call these career politicians out. Congress has become a fiefdom. Term limits!!! When will that be enacted??

—Richard Wiernasz, email

A Term Limit for Neal

While not a fan of terms limits, I am open to imposing exceptions ….

—Perry Jameson, Quincy