Milford Daily News
It's been 14 years since Congressman Richard Neal has faced an opponent. So while reports that he's been rarely seen in the eastern end of his 2nd District are exaggerated, voters in the Milford area are seeing more of him this year than usual. He is already well-known where it counts, in the U.S. House.
Neal hails from Springfield, where he served as mayor and city councilor before being elected to Congress in 1988. Neal isn't the flashiest member of the state's House delegation. He's not nationally known like Barney Frank, or a frequent TV guest like Ed Markey. He's outside the Boston media market, so he doesn't get much coverage.
Neal's field of expertise isn't exciting, but it's surely important. A senior member of the powerful Ways & Means Committee, he chairs its special subcommittee on taxation. He gets to put his stamp on the most important legislation before Congress. Just last month, for instance, Neal won House approval for a mutual fund modernization bill that will result in tax cuts for millions of Americans. That achievement is especially noteworthy because, in this most partisan moment, the vote was unanimous.
Neal is no radical, and he's no one's rubber stamp. On the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts, he has his own plan: Let the tax cuts expire for those earning more than $500,000 a year (the Obama administration and Democratic leaders prefer $250,000), and dedicate the revenue from high-income earners to paying off the costs of the Iraq war. He bucked his party's leaders on two wars as well, voting against the invasion of Iraq and supporting efforts to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Neal is poised to become an even more powerful voice. He is said to be campaigning to take over the Ways & Means chairmanship. If he succeeds, and the Democrats hold on to the House, that would be a huge boon to his district and to Massachusetts.
Neal's opponent, Republican Tom Wesley of Hopedale, is smart and articulate. A former Navy pilot, entrepreneur and business executive, he deserves credit, if only for giving an entrenched incumbent a race. But he has never served in elective office, never held a position of public trust, never exercised leadership in the public sphere. Those who share his ideological bent, favoring smaller government, lower taxes, and "citizen legislators," can comfortably support him.
Voters who prefer a candidate with a record of success, the respect of his peers and the proven ability to serve their interests in the halls of Congress, should get to know RICHARD NEAL, and we're happy to offer him our endorsement.