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The Choice in MA-5

A Bay Stater weighs in.

12:45 PM, Aug 17, 2010 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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TWS readers in Massachusetts seem particularly energized this year. Yesterday, one had interesting advice for GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker. Now another e-mails about the race in Massachusetts’s 5th Congressional District:

As your readers probably know, Niki Tsongas is one of the more vulnerable incumbent democrats in the Northeast. Unlike her late husband who ran against at least some of the liberal democratic orthodoxy, Niki marches in lockstep with Nancy Pelosi and house leadership (voting with leadership nearly 100% of the time).  And that is not such a good thing in MA-5, a district Scott Brown won 57-42.

Furthermore, Niki Tsongas is no deeply entrenched incumbent. She was elected in a special election in 2007 with a 52-47 margin, and ran unopposed in 2008.

I think it's important for your readers (and the conservative movement as a whole) to rally around the one true conservative candidate with a legitimate chance of beating her, Jon Golnik.

The Weekly Standard wrote about the compelling life story of another Republican on the primary ballot, Sam Meas. And it is compelling (he was adopted from the killing fields of Cambodia, to begin with). But it’s not clear Sam Meas is a compelling candidate. Although he announced his campaign in 2009, he has still not made a dent in forming an organization, raising money or building awareness of his campaign. Further, he tries to throw "red meat" to tea party activists, but hasn’t shown the intellectual heft to tie together a coherent governing philosophy.  Arguing for the elimination of the Federal Reserve to let Treasury (Tim Geithner!) run monetary policy is not a serious proposal (even in Massachusetts!).

Conversely, Jon Golnik is a small businessman who put his professional life on hold because he was tired of complaining about Washington and decided to do something about it. He wanted to make sure that his two young kids did not inherit a country worse than he grew up in. He has set up a serious campaign infrastructure, with volunteers regularly working on his behalf and money coming in, and he is the only candidate in the district who has been designated as "on the radar" by the NRCC.  

More importantly to me and other conservatives, he is a true conservative, well within the conservative mainstream, who can get elected in this Massachusetts district. He believes in limited government consistent with our constitution, but puts that in a context that the Massachusetts voter can believe in. He stresses the importance of the individual and of private action in contrast to the burdens imposed by an overzealous federal bureaucracy, and believes that lowered taxes and regulatory burdens are the key to future economic growth. To that end, he argues that it is critical that Congress focus on deficit reduction and on creating an environment for job creation.  Further, on what has become a significant issue in the campaign, he has stressed that the predicate for any meaningful immigration reform is to (1) secure the border and (2) to ensure that employers who knowingly or willfully engage illegal aliens are held to account.  (In contrast, Meas has been all over the map on immigration, starting with a position of amnesty and moving toward a position where illegals are encouraged to report their employers in exchange for receiving $10,000 from the federal government -- apparently without thinking that a $10,000 reward will be its own illegal immigration magnet).

In sum, there is a reason why, in Massachusetts, Golnik is viewed as the likely opponent to Tsongas.  He is the only candidate who has consistently gotten his message out there and been viewed as serious.  Given that the Massachusetts primaries are not until mid-September, however, it might help if people who care started to rally around him now so that he can be positioned for the stretch run against Tsongas.  If we are to take back the House in November, Jon Golnik is exactly the type of candidate that we need to support and encourage.

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