© 2023
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Seeking To Unseat U.S. Senator Markey, GOP's Herr Campaigns In Pittsfield

Jim Levulis

The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate recently campaigned in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Brian Herr is challenging Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat who’s represented the commonwealth in Congress since 1976.

The two-term Hopkinton selectman met with members of the Berkshire GOP to talk about his views. With 30 years in the construction business, Herr admits he allowed others to control him and his message during his failed bid for the U.S. House in 2010.

“People are frustrated and they’re very open to the idea of someone new with new ideas and new energy taking a different approach,” Herr said. “But also at the same time, not someone that’s going to go down there and just yell from the other side of the aisle.”

Accepting the Republican Party’s nomination at its convention in March, Herr insists he will not go to Washington and represent the GOP. Some of his views differ from the party line, such as on healthcare. He supports universal healthcare, but believes the Affordable Care Act has given too much control to the federal government.

“As we try to implement the Affordable Care Act all kinds of issues are cropping up are popping up,” Herr said. “I think as these different things surface and we see opportunities to maybe get the states to consider maybe taking that piece back or taking that piece back, and it’s going to take a lot of dialogue back and forth between the federal government and the state governments around the country that want to do it, I think that’s going to be critically important.”

As a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from Ireland, Herr is pushing what he calls reasonable immigration reform. The Republican favors an amnesty program that includes paying restitution based on how long a person has been in the U.S. illegally and on any income along with getting in line behind those trying to get into America legally. Herr says the current humanitarian crisis of young children trying to cross the southern border is dictating the government’s approach, and it should be the other way around.

“I think we can create an immigration policy for the immediate problem and as long as we start to manage the process and manage the border and truly control who comes across when, and I think that involves some military personnel, you can use them to train down there for what they may have to do around the globe someday...but I think if we do those things we get a much better handle on it,” Herr said.

Senator Markey, seeking his first full six-year term, had been in the House since 1976 before winning a special election last year to fill the Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry. A longtime believer in term limits, Herr thinks the idea will catch on because Americans have showed unhappiness with entrenched Washington in polls.

Credit Jim Levulis / WAMC
U.S. Senator Ed Markey accepts the Massachusetts Democratic Party's nomination at its June convention in Worcester.

“If you know that you’re going home in a few years to live in the world that you’re creating in Washington, D.C., if you know you’re going home to run a business that has to operate under the rules and regs that you’re creating as a legislator in Washington, D.C. you’re probably going to think a little differently about what you’re doing," said Herr.

Senator Markey says elections serve as term limitations.

“Ultimately every single election is a term limitation movement,” Markey said. “People can go into a voting booth and vote secretly as to who they want to be their senator, their congressman, their governor or their selectman. I think that’s what’s going to happen again this year and it’s going to be decided on the issues.”

Herr supports a hiring freeze in Washington and a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. The Republican admits he is “a raging underdog,” and the polls show it. A WBUR poll from March found 82 percent of Bay State voters had never heard of him. But a MassInc poll released in January shows 43 percent of voters think it is time to give someone else a chance in Markey’s seat. With a slogan of “Don’t vote for him, vote for Herr,” the Republican believes his knowledge of community issues will succeed.

“I think it’s very important that people understand Massachusetts at the grassroots level which I do,” Herr said. “I have I think the capacity and the brain power to transfer that to the national stage.”

Senator Markey, who defeated Gabriel Gomez in 2013’s special election by about 10 points,  accepted the Democratic party’s nomination at its June convention in Worcester.

“The Tea Party knows that I am a big obstacle to Republicans taking back the United States Senate,” said Markey during his nomination speech.

Senator Markey on November's election

“What I do is run straight ahead,” Markey said. “I don’t take anything for granted. I work as hard as I can every single day. I try to represent Massachusetts on the key issues that they want to have fought for by their Senator. That’s the best way to ensure that you can in fact stand for reelection. So I’m fighting everyday for the values, for the priorities that Massachusetts voters would fight for if they were in Washington.”

Herr entered the race in January.

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
Related Content