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Profiles of an Election: III

By Lawrence W. Feinberg

Edward F. McLaughlin, Jr., Massachusetts' 41-year-old Lieutenant Governor, says he wants to become governor so badly that he can taste it.

In his bid for the Democratic nomination to face incumbent Republican John A. Volpe, McLaughlin has shaken hands at factory gates at 4 a.m. toured the state at a savage clip, and directed a harsh attack against Volpe and oblique jabs at his Democratic rivals Endicott Peabody '42 and Motor Vehicle Registrar Clement Riley.

Sitting in an office only 50 yards from the governor's chair, McLaughlin charged that Gov. Volpe has "ducked ever issue from blue laws to taxes." As for corruption, McLaughlin said that Volpe has "grossly mishandled the problem. The only thing he's done is use it as a political spring board."

"Volpe talks as if he's the only decent man in Massachusetts politics," McLaughlin continued, "Well, he isn't. I resent the inference that everyone who is a Democrat is dishonest."

McLaughlin continued: "What has this man done in 17 months? He has done nothing but talk about corruption, and has completely abandoned his program. He lacks forthrightness; he talks double talk; he's made Massachusetts the laughing stock of the nation--and I'm sick of it. And now he wants to 'return to decency."

'The Lieutenant Governor said he will attack the corruption problem by a "return to leadership." While he favors constitutional reform to remove some of the fetters which make the governor of Massachusetts one of the weakest in the nation, McLaughlin believes that the man, not the machinery, is of crucial importance.

"It's no excuse for a governor to say 'I'll do something better after we change the constitution,'" McLaughlin emphasized. "A strong governor who stands up and fights can solve this problem now."

The primary ingredient in McLaughlin's program to end corruption is more efficient police action. A former assistant U. S. Attorney, he wants to improve the investigation force of the state police and then "turn them loose to get the facts." When wrongdoing is uncovered, it should be dealt with "summarily," McLaughlin stated, through the courts and not the press.

McLaughlin expects to receive the endorsement of the Democratic state nominating convention at Springfield June 7-10. Many observers feel that he is ahead, although not by the two to one margin he claims.

He should be helped by a substantial record of office-holding which includes seven years on the Boston City Council with two terms as Council president. Many delegates may also be influenced by his background: McLaughlin's father served as fire and street commissioner of Boston. He is a graduate of Dartmouth and has been practising law since the end of World War II.

Pointedly, McLaughlin stresses "my proven loyalty to the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates over years. I am not like those sometime candidates who often are fence-sitters or fence-jumpers."

"Besides," McLaughlin continued. "I have proven my ability to get votes. As a practical political matter, you want to nominate a winner and not a loser." In 1961 he topped Augustus G. Means, the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor by 209,000 votes. Volpe defeated Joseph Ward, the Democratic candidate for governor, by 139,000 votes.

Besides rooting out corruption, McLaughlin feels Massachusetts must revise its tax structure to raise the revenue for expanding state aid to schools and welfare payments. The present burden placed on local real estate taxes is "unconscionable." McLaughlin contended and discourages construction which would provide new jobs. The existing state tax structure, he continued is a "monster." "It has many arms, many heads, and no eyes," he explained, "and it doesn't know where it's going.

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