Faced with the difficult task of unseating a 23-year veteran of the Massachusetts Legislature, Rep. Peter A. Vellucci (D-Cambridge) and his campaign staffers have pulled in a slew of endorsements and contributions as they prepare for the September 15 Democratic primary, campaign workers said.
Because of a redistricting plan, Vellucci will face Rep. Marie E. Howe (D-Somerville) in the race to represent Cambridge and Somerville in the State House of Representatives The son of Cambridge mayor and long-time political figure Alfred E. Vellucci, Peter Vellucci is gearing up to win the votes of the area's most liberal voters; he has already garnered the endorsements of much of the liberal establishment.
Since April, Vellucci has been going door-to-door in the district, handing out campaign literature, shaking hands and raising money for his race against Howe. Observers say that Vellucci faces a difficult challenge in unseating Howe, although many see Vellucci's more liberal voting record as an asset that could play well in September.
In the race for the 29th district of Middlesex Country, Vellucci has garnered endorsements from several liberal political groups, including Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), the Massachusetts Choice Political Action Committee (MCPAC), the Commonwealth Electoral Coalition, the Local 26 Restaurant Workers and the Massachusetts Teachers Association, said Campaign Manager Clifford Truesdell '66.
At the start of the campaign, Truesdell predicted that Vellucci's campaign--which spent only $4000 to defeat token Republican opposition in 1986--would need to raise more than $60,000 to avoid a "grim" financial situation. Truesdell said yesterday in a phone interview that the Vellucci campaign had raised more than $50,000 so far, and that he expected more contributions in the near future.
Because of declines in the Cambridge and Somerville populations, the state's redistricting plan combined the districts of the two incumbents. Cambridge has 9000 voters in the district, compared to Somerville's 8000. Howe has served for 23 years in the State House, while Vellucci is in his third term.
Although most political observers expect Howe to make a very strong showing in Somerville, Truesdell said Vellucci's support outside of Cambridge is underestimated. Indeed, he has picked up the endorsement of Somerville Mayor Eugen Brune.
"[Howe] may be entrenched in part of Somerville, but Peter has represented Somerville in the past also," Truesdell said, noting that Vellucci has represented two of Somerville's six precincts in the past. He added that the campaign is seeking to portray Vellucci as a man who has "represented both cities."
And though Vellucci is thought to have solid support among Cambridge voters, Truesdell said that the campaign will continue to work hard in both Cambridge and Somerville to emphasize the differences between the two politicians.
"We have a simple strategy--work like hell," Truesdell said. "We're going door-to-door, having literature drops and mailings. And we're trying to emphasize the candidates' sharply contrasting views on women's issues."
Many of those who endorsed Vellucci said that his record on abortion was one of the primary reasons for their support.
A staff member of MCPAC, an abortion rights group, said that the organization endorsed Vellucci and contributed $1000 to his campaign because he had "a long, consistent record of support for prochoice issues," while Howe had voted anti-choice on virtually every piece of legislation during her career.
Howe voted in favor of abortion rights for minors legislation last winter, but said she had never voted for abortion in her career and asked not to be considered for an endorsement by the pro-choice organization, the staff worker said.
Truesdell said that in addition to the groups which have pledged to support him, Vellucci has also won the endorsement of many state and local politicians, including his father, Somerville Mayor Brune, State Sen. Salvatore R. Albano, State Sen. Michael J. Barrett, State Sen. Michael LoPresti, Jr. '70 and Cambridge City Councillor Saundra Graham.
Although Vellucci said he has been endorsed by Washington politicians including Reps. Edward Markey and Barney Frank, aides to the two U.S. Senators from Massachusetts, Edward M. Kennedy '54 and John F. Kerry, said the senators have declined to support either candidate.