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Three-way State Rep Race Heats Up

Monday, September 17, 2012


Democrat Jim O'Day is preparing to defend his seat on Beacon Hill from both Republican and Independent challengers.

This year's contest marks the first time that O'Day, who took the 14th Worcester District's State Representative seat in a 2006 special election, will face a competitive election.

Worcester Republican William McCarthy and West Boylston Independent Winthrop Handy intend to give him a run for his money.

The Incumbent's Edge

"I am incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity and trust over the past five and a half years to represent my community in the House of Representatives," the West Boylston Democrat said in a formal announcement of his re-election campaign.

Prior to taking office, O'Day worked as a social worker for the Department of Children and Families, and he put in time as a union roofer before that.

"My role as a State Representative has been a continuation of my commitment to protecting working- and middle-class families that started 24 years ago when I began my career as a social worker," he said.

"One of the greatest honors of my job is ensuring that individuals who can't speak for themselves are represented and afforded the dignity they deserve."

Aside from the edge afforded by being an incumbent in a Democratic-leaning district, O'Day also enjoys strong union support and a well-stocked campaign account.

According to pre-primary reports filed in late August with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, O'Day's war chest held upwards of $33,000.

McCarthy closed the first eight months of the year with $1,076 on hand, and Handy, who got off to a late start after his nomination papers were challenged, did not record any contributions of expenditures in his report.

An Independent Streak

What Handy lacks in campaign funds he makes up in bold ideas for the region's resources.

The Independent, who has been a business owner for 36 years and an elected municipal light commissioner for 15, argued that Worcester has squandered its potential by sticking with the status quo.

"It will take independent voices like mine to get our state government working in harmony to control unnecessary spending and to reduce taxes," he said.

"If we want to stop the exodus of Massachusetts residents and business owners to other state with less expensive energy, we need to lower the cost of our electric power."

Handy's plans include developing new energy sources, such as a solar field at Worcester Airport, converting public vehicles to cleaner and cheaper natural gas alternatives, and breaking away from Boston-based cable television to promote competition and local alternatives.

A photographer, Handy also would like to see more studios and art spaces developed in downtown Worcester to help bolster the city's artists.

A Republican Challenger

McCarthy, who ran for Worcester County Sheriff in 2004 and was a two-time candidate for City Council, is no stranger to local politics, and he too wants to change the status quo.

Currently, McCarthy is employed as a professor of Criminal Justice at Quinsigamond Community College, and he also teaches at Assumption and Becker Colleges.

The Republican's core campaign issues are lowering taxes, reforming the EBT and welfare systems, and developing job opportunities in the region.

Earlier this year, McCarthy railed against O'Day for a bill the Democrat proposed in 2011, the Act to Invest in Our Communities, which would have increased the state income tax rate from 5.3 to 5.95 percent.

O'Day defended the measure, arguing that the Commonwealth's tax code warrants revisiting.


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