The Boston Herald
Thursday, September 19, 2002
King Tom rocked by lieutenant's upset
by Elisabeth J. Beardsley
Speaker Thomas M. Finneran remains firmly in control of his
House, but this week's elections might have created a tiny crack in his iron political grip.
Safely on his way to re-election in Mattapan, Finneran took
an electoral blow Tuesday when Dedham voters gave the boot to their representative - top Finneran lieutenant Maryanne
The powerful speaker threw money and ground troops into
trying to rescue his floor division leader, but Lewis was swamped by a pack of vocally anti-Finneran, pro-Clean Elections
Finneran detractors across the political spectrum were
crowing yesterday, calling the Lewis upset the "beginning of the revolution."
"Every sheep in his flock is an endangered species - one
election away from becoming lamb stew," said Citizens for Limited Taxation Operations Director
And the conservative CLT activists - still rankling over
Finneran's $1.2 billion tax hike - aren't the only ones rejoicing at Lewis' political misfortune.
Liberal advocates of the Clean Elections campaign finance
law rushed yesterday to proclaim "sweeping success" among their legislative candidates - ignoring the fact that Clean Elections
standard-bearer Warren Tolman came in dead last in the Democratic gubernatorial race.
"The results send a clear message that Massachusetts voters
want their representatives to stand up to Tom Finneran," said Mass. Voters for Clean Elections Director Joe O'Brien.
Finneran was not available, but aides said he was "disappointed" by Lewis' loss and called
her to commiserate on election night.
State House insiders - both Democrat and Republican - looked
askance at the claims of Finneran's impending demise, even while warning that the speaker should sit up and pay
Assistant House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones (R-North
Reading) noted that the speaker helped salvage a race for another leadership favorite - Ways and Means Vice
Chairman Michael Ruane (D-Salem).
With a wide margin of support in the overwhelmingly
Democratic House, Finneran is not in any danger of being thrown overboard, notwithstanding genuine frustration with his style,
"If you have a dog that misbehaves, is your first response
to go out and shoot him or do you rap him on the nose?" Jones said. "I think he's secure right now."
Others argued the phrase "right now" is critical, given that
the year's referenda on Finneran's leadership aren't yet over.
In November, voters in 18 House districts will be asked to
order their representatives to vote against Finneran for speaker in January.
At the same time, voters statewide will be asked - at
Finneran and the House's behest - whether they want their tax dollars funneled to politicians under the auspices of Clean
"Tom Finneran remains the most unpopular political figure in
the commonwealth," said frequent critic Rep. James J. Marzilli (D-Arlington), adding he doesn't blame the speaker for
Meanwhile, the fight for the top Senate leadership post
appears ready to break open after Senate President Thomas F. Birmingham's third-place finish in the Democratic gubernatorial
Sources say the half-dozen senators who are vying for the
presidency began a flurry of phone calls and meetings last week, when it became clear Birmingham was headed for a
"Tom Birmingham's done," said one high-ranking senator.
"Everybody knows it's over."
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The Neponset Valley Daily News
Thursday, September 19, 2002
Next step uncertain for Maryanne Lewis:
Supporters see 'bright future' for Dedham politician
despite election defeat
By Peter Hartzel
Following her ouster at the hands of voters in Dedham,
Westwood and Walpole, the next step for state Rep. Maryanne Lewis is uncertain.
Like her uncle, former state Sen. Arthur Lewis, in the early
'90s, the four-term House of Representatives member became a casualty of voter anger in Tuesday's Democratic primary.
Now she must answer a question she never planned to ask herself: What now?
The answer wasn't forthcoming yesterday. Lewis didn't return
messages left with her campaign spokesman and at her State House office.
A career politician, Lewis has a background in law. Before
her election to the Legislature eight years ago, she was an assistant district attorney in Suffolk County. She maintained a
private law practice throughout her tenure in the Legislature, though in recent years she has
scaled back her legal work and relied on it only as a partial source of income, records show.
Her primary income was the salary of more than $60,000 she earned as an assistant majority
Her supporters said they believe Lewis will land on her
feet, even after a loss in which her own neighborhood favored her opponent, Dedham Selectman Bob Coughlin, by a 2-1
"She's a bright, articulate lawyer and I'm sure that
whatever she chooses to do, the future will be bright for her," said Westwood Selectman Pat Ahearn.
Anthony Antonellis, another Westwood selectman who supported
Lewis, said she's a "very smart, hardworking person, so she'll be successful in whatever she does."
Dedham selectmen Chairman Paul Munchbach said it's possible
Lewis will try to make a political comeback down the road.
"I wouldn't count her out of politics totally," Munchbach
said. "I think she's going to sit back, focus on her family and see what options are out there for her. There are a lot of
positions out there that she's more than qualified for."
Though Lewis wasn't talking yesterday, local politicians and
other observers didn't hesitate to weigh in with an autopsy of her political career.
"She lost the race about five years ago when she started
losing touch with the community, not showing up at events, or showing up and then leaving right away," said Tom Polito, a
Dedham selectman who supported Coughlin.
Others attributed Lewis' loss to widespread voter discontent
with the state Legislature; the organized opposition of political organizations on the left and the right, including
Citizens for Limited Taxation and Mass Voters for Clean Elections; and the near-flawless campaign run
by Coughlin's large and highly-motivated staff.
"A number of factors coalesced for Bob in this campaign, not
the least of which was his work ethic. Early on, it was evident to most political observers that Bob was on a mission,"
said Steve Rahavy, a former Dedham selectman.
The incumbent was hammered on issues large and small, from
her support this year of the largest tax hike in state history to her campaign's unauthorized use of a senior citizen
activist's name in a mailing.
Coughlin said his message of change resonated with voters
tired of status quo on Beacon Hill and credited his campaign workers for a massive show of support that, coupled with key
endorsements from organizations like the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the state
AFL-CIO, helped him build unstoppable momentum.
"It feels like the months of diligence and hard work has
truly paid off," he said.
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The Neponset Valley Daily News
Thursday, September 19, 2002
Coughlin, Pascarella ready for stretch run:
Congratulations over, pair prepares for battle
By Peter Hartzel
Bob Coughlin's phone service provider is reaping a windfall
from his Democratic primary victory Tuesday over state Rep. Maryanne Lewis.
"I haven't been able to keep up with the calls," said
Coughlin, whose upset of Lewis, a House assistant majority whip, is drawing statewide attention. "It's still very
surreal," he said yesterday.
U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-9th, several state lawmakers and
a untold number of supporters from the 11th Norfolk House District communities of Dedham, Westwood,
Walpole and beyond were among those making congratulatory calls to Coughlin.
After a celebrating his win with hundreds of supporters at
the VFW hall in Dedham Tuesday night, the three-term Dedham selectman treated himself to a decent night's sleep for the
first time since he launched his aggressive campaign last November.
"I was zonked," Coughlin said with a chuckle. "I slept 'til
nine o'clock. It was the first time I did that in 10 months."
After spending the morning with his family, Coughlin headed
to his campaign headquarters in Dedham Square. Republican nominee Joe Pascarella, whom he will face in the Nov. 5
general election, was among those who paid a visit.
"We congratulated each other and we talked about the level
of professionalism and cleanness that we're going to campaign by. That's what the people of the district deserve and that's
what they're going to get," said Coughlin.
Pascarella is giving no quarter to purveyors of conventional
wisdom who insist Coughlin is a shoo-in to win in November. He touted his overwhelming victory over Dan Smith while
noting that Coughlin edged out Lewis by just two percentage points, or
less than 300 votes.
The Pascarella-Coughlin matchup provides a much sharper
ideological contrast than occurred in either party primary. Pascarella cited the candidates' respective stances on taxes
(he has signed a no-new-taxes pledge; Coughlin hasn't), capital punishment (he favors it;
Coughlin opposes it) and education (he favors charter schools and vouchers; Coughlin
doesn't) as just a few of the areas in which the two party nominees clash.
"There are many differences between Bob and I on the issues,
and those differences will come out the next six weeks," Pascarella said.
Pascarella plans to make the case that "restoring two-party
government" in Massachusetts by electing more Republicans to the Legislature is the key to improving the way Beacon Hill
runs -- and that Coughlin, as a Democrat, doesn't represent real change.
"People realize that change can really be brought about by
Republicans. I think we have a good shot at winning this seat," he said.
Coughlin, meanwhile, acknowledged he will have to partly
reshape his message for the general election, since the goal buttressed by his primary campaign theme -- "It is time for a
change on Beacon Hill" -- has already been realized, at least in the 11th Norfolk House
District, with the ouster of Lewis.
"My goal right now is to regroup and prepare for the general
election," he said. "My message will still be about issues that are important to the people of the 11th Norfolk District, such
as health care, education, public safety and protections for our seniors."
The candidates have agreed to go head-to-head in at least
two debates in the weeks leading up to the November election.
Although many are predicting a cakewalk for Coughlin, he
vowed to maintain a brisk schedule of campaigning. "I'm going to work hard at it and get as many people out there to
vote as possible. It's not something that I'm going to take lightly," he said.
Although Coughlin raised $102,035 this year -- more than all
three of the other House candidates combined -- he drained his war chest almost to rock bottom with several costly
mass mailings in the final two weeks before the primary. Pascarella had $5,454.31 in his
campaign coffers at the end of August, records show.
"I think financially it's an even playing field. We both
virtually have no money," said Pascarella, a former Boy Scouts of America executive and Dedham Town Meeting member.
Now that they've won the nominations of their respective
parties, both candidates expect to receive party help for what is effectively a race for an open seat.
But while Pascarella has fomented the goodwill of state GOP
leaders by using his upstart campaign to give grassroots support to the party's statewide candidates, Coughlin has run
afoul of the higher-ups in his party. Just last week, Democratic State Committee Chairman
Philip Johnston bashed Coughlin for refusing to pledge support for Lewis if she won
the primary. Even before that flap, Johnston had given the maximum contribution of $500 to the
And Coughlin faces the possibly difficult task of reaching
out to Lewis supporters, some of whom were outraged over his stance on the pledge issue. All three members of the
Westwood Board of Selectmen had actively supported Lewis and one of them, Patrick
Ahearn, ripped Coughlin for behavior "destructive" to party unity.
Yesterday Ahearn said he will "absolutely" support Coughlin
and urged other Democrats to do the same.
"The people spoke ... Bob Coughlin is the best choice for
Dedham and Westwood," Ahearn said. "Clearly Bob's credentials are superior to that of the Republican candidate. To rally
behind our choice is the best thing that we can to ensure the continuity of service that we're
The state Republican Party brass and several sitting
lawmakers have come out strong for Pascarella.
On Monday, state Rep. Michael Coppola, R-Foxboro, will be
the keynote speaker at a fund-raiser for Pascarella at The Olde Irish Alehouse in Dedham. Several major figures in the
state GOP, including lieutenant governor nominee Kerry Healey, are expected to attend.
Coughlin, whose third term on the Board of Selectmen expires
in March 2004, said he won't make a decision about whether to resign from the board until after the November election.
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