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Republican To Challenge U.S. Sen. Markey In November

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A Republican has entered the race to challenge Massachusetts U.S. Senator Edward Markey in November.

On Wednesday, the GOP’s Brian Herr announced he intends to be on the ballot in November. Herr is a member of the Hopkinton Board of Selectmen in Middlesex County and has 29 years of experience in the commercial construction business. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the U.S. House in 2010. Herr is proposing a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget and term limits for newly elected federal officials so that a senator serves no more than two, six-year terms and House members no more than six, two-year terms.

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U.S. Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA)

“I watch what goes on and I see the problems in our democracy today so I’m big believer in fundamental political reform,” Herr said. “We’ve got to do a lot of things day in and day out to run our government better, make it more efficient and do all those things that I think any good leader or manager would want to do. But I think it’s very important that the fundamental issues of the stagnation and stalemate in Washington, D.C. be addressed.”

Markey defeated Republican Gabriel Gomez by 10 percentage points in a special election last June to serve the remainder of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's Senate term. Now, the Democrat is seeking a full six-year term. Markey was asked by reporters about a potential challenger during a stop in Pittsfield on Jan. 26.

“I work hard every day doing my work as a senator,” Markey said. “I’m going to continue to do that and I think that’s the best way.”

Markey says his top three priorities are jobs, income equality, and access to opportunity for all. Recently, he backed the release of low-income heating assistance funding and supported a bill that would extend unemployment insurance benefits cut for more than 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans.

“I just think it’s fundamentally wrong to blame people who have been laid off for their own plight,” Markey said. “If the jobs were there, they would take them. I just think from a humane perspective it’s our responsibility to continue unemployment insurance until the federal government and the private sector creates the jobs that most of these workers would much rather have than being on unemployment.”

Herr says he wants to ensure the federal government doesn’t stand in the way of private sector job creation while being careful not to pull the safety net out from under those struggling. The son of Irish immigrants, Herr is advocating for what he calls respectful, meaningful, and practical immigration reform.

“Just throwing everybody out is not the answer,” Herr said. “I believe it’s important that we register everybody. We get everybody to understand they have an opportunity to earn citizenship that are here today. Over a period of time and after registering and starting to pay taxes and starting to pay their fair share into our society that we can work something out over five, six, seven years, or something along those lines.”

A poll released this week by the Mass Inc. Polling Group shows 43 percent of voters think it is time to give someone else a chance in Markey’s seat. Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed did not offer an opinion. Markey served 37 years in the House before jumping to the Senate in a special election that saw a record low voter turnout of 27 percent. Markey has said his campaign has been raising a “very respectable amount” of money.

“We’re continuing to work on environmental issues for the city of Pittsfield,” Markey said on Jan. 26. “We met earlier today. I also met with [North Adams] Mayor Alcombright. So I’m going to continue to focus on those economic development issues that are important to the mayors out here.”

Scott Brown was the last Republican to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate. Brown pulled off a surprising victory over state Attorney General Martha Coakley in a 2010 special election to serve the remaining term of the late Ted Kennedy. Vying for a full term, Brown lost to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in 2013. Before Brown, the last Republican elected to the U.S. Senate was Edward Brooke, who represented the commonwealth from 1967 till 1978. Calling himself a reasonable, responsible, respectful Republican, Herr is the only GOP member to enter the race so far.

“I’m not going to Washington, D.C. to represent the Republican Party of Massachusetts or the Republican Party in the United States of America,” Herr said. “I’m going to represent the people of Massachusetts. That mindset I think is different than a lot of people in Washington [D.C.] today.”

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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