Weeks and Studds. Battle in Twelfth District
NEW BEDFORD At about 6 a.m. Gerry Studds arrived at his Union Street headquarters in New Bedford His campaign workers all under? had been up since. Do we have enough bumper stickers." Studds asked Phil Hale his 2 year old driver.
"Well..." Hale counted the stickers decided he didn't and went back in the headquarters to get some more.
The group took off in two cars. Betty Santos and Jeff Lavares carried the signs in one while Studds. Hale, and Bill Guild drove in the other. It was perfect ethnic balance: two Portuguese from New Bedford and two Wasps one from Nantucket one from Hingham.
"Aerovox is a tough factory to do" said Studds on the way over "We can't get inside the gate and people come flying around in cars. Studds is used to factory gates. He has been campaigning for Congress since early 1970. Running as a "peace" candidate in the '70 elections he won the Democratic Primary by a big margin over three challengers, and missed one of the biggest upsets of the year by fewer than 2000 votes to conservative Republican Congressman Hastings Keith. Keith had run unopposed in the previous election.
The Democratic State Legislature redistricted the Twelfth in 1971 and cut out some of the towns favorable to Keith. So the 14-year veteran decided to retire and Studds now faces the man Keith beat in the 1970 Republican primary former State Senator William Weeks. Weeks is grandson of former Senator John Wingate Weeks after whom the Weeks Bridge is named, and son of former U.S. Senator and Eisenhower Administration Treasury Secretary Sinclair Weeks
Studds was right about the factory Cars did come whizzing in and Studds had to content himself with waving to their occupant.
But some of the workers arrived on foot and he greeted them with "Hi I'm Gerry Studds Most knew who he was and were friendly
Meanwhile two volunteers went through the factory gates into the Aerovox parking lot to "bumpersticker" which is Southeastern. Massachusetts political slang for asking people if they want stickers placed on their cars.
Another volunteer distributed leaflets to incoming workers and passers-by, while a third positioned himself near the gate with a campaign sign so drivers would know who was waving at them.
As we walked out a man sitting at the lunch counter turned to us and said. "I hope he wins. But you're going to have to work hard. A lot of the politicians are against him."
According to a Boston Globe article of September 19, many prominent Weymouth Democrats are supporting Weeks Stephen S. J. Hall. Vice president for Administration and a strong Weeks supporter said last week that most of the members of the City Council in heavily Democratic New Bedford back the Weeks candidacy.
One reason Weeks is making inroads into the Democratic Party is his political ability Weeks made a lot of friends during three terms in the State Senate and he now is in a position to cash in his chips. In addition his friendly and warm personality has the ability to charm people in brief meetings. Unlike Studds who takes a strong left-liberal position. Weeks give, the impression of being a moderate with whom a Humphrey type Democrat could feel comfortable
Where Weeks actually differs with President Nixon is unclear. He said in an interview last week that "I could support him on a great many issues and would oppose him on others," but he could only cite one issue where he differed specifically with the President.
On the war in Vietnam. Weeks would end U.S. military involvement if the North Vietnamese release the prisoners of war. Nixon's current position is that he would only withdraw troops if a cease fire were negotiated and the prisoners were released.
On other issues it appears likely that Weeks--despite his appearance--would vote with the Nixon position.
The candidates are divided on tax reform and Vietnam, Studds would have the U.S. withdraw unconditionally from Vietnam. Both candidates talk about tax reform but Weeks is specific only, in his opposition to the oil depletion allowance, while Studds also favors heavier taxes on capital gains. Studds portrays the choice as one between a Nixon Republican and a liberal Democrat, while Weeks sees the decision as one between a moderate and an ultra-liberal.
In order to bring his message to the voters, Weeks is banking heavily on the strong grass roots organization which his campaign staff claims it is developing in all parts of the district, Hall originally designed the campaign's organization plan with the hope of having a coordinator for every 20 households in the district. A campaign consultant from Washington subsequently decided that it would be preferable to give campaign workers the responsibility for 50 households.
The Weeks campaign is very well financed, and should their grass roots organization falter, the Cohasset Republican can afford to rely heavily on advertising.
Studds has a very strong local organization, which he began building in his campaign against Keith. He has kept it in fact by continuous use through 1971.
But one of his problems appears to be the overconfidence of potential supporters. In 1970, everyone knew that much work had to be done if Studds was to approach winning. This year, popular wisdom holds that Studds is a sure winner. It makes it tougher to persuade people to get out and canvass again.
How much of a factor the Presidential campaign will be is unclear.
Should McGovern falter, his presence on the ticket could hurt the heavily favored Studds.