DEBATE HIGHLIGHT: Candidates Separate Themselves On Political Ideology — 2 Moderates, 2 Conservatives & 1 Progressive?

WILMINGTON, MA — During last week’s debate, the five Democratic candidates in the 19th Middlesex State Rep Race were asked to identify their political ideology, disclose if they ever voted for a Republican, and grade Republican Governor Charlie Baker.

Differences In Political Ideologies 

“I would definitely consider myself to be a moderate Democrat,” said former Wilmington Selectman and School Committee member Judy O’Connell (D-Wilmington). “I definitely vote the issue and not necessarily the party. I believe in commonsense government. I believe in hearing all sides of an issue and rendering a decision based on my belief system, principles and what I believe is right… I will be a State Representative that listens to the constituent base that I’ve been entrusted to serve….”

“I believe my unique governmental experience (6 years as a Selectwoman, including 2 years as Chair, and 3 years as a School Committee member) right here in the Middlesex district, as well as my moderate Democratic beliefs, will serve the residents of Wilmington and Tewksbury well on Beacon Hill,” concluded O’Connell.

“I do consider myself like a JFK conservative,” said longtime Wilmington Selectman Mike McCoy (D-Wilmington). “I’ve always been conservative my whole life… I will always vote the person or the issue. I won’t vote the party. Life is a compromise. I do believe that I’m a good negotiator, no matter if it’s in the private sector and public sector. I would reach to my Republican counterparts and if there’s someone there who has a better idea than me and can put legislation together that benefits our communities and the Commonwealth, I would [support] that… I will work with folks to get things done.”

(Editor’s Note: McCoy previously identified himself as a moderate Democrat in a Wilmington Apple Q&A. He did, however, also refer to himself as a “JFK Democrat” and a “Common Sense Democrat with conservative views” in a letter later sent to the Wilmington Apple.)

“I’d consider myself a moderate Democrat,” responded Tewksbury Selectman Mark Kratman (D-Tewksbury). “I’ve always voted what’s best for the constituents. I have a number of friends who are big Republicans in my community and they’ve always told me that while they’re Republican to the core, they vote for me because they say I’ve always done the right thing by the community. I don’t go voting for a certain party — what’s best for the community is what I’m always for, not what some party leader or some other group is trying to push forward.”

“I’m not in favor of sanctuary cities — a lot of Democrats are. I have a lot of friends that are pushing for those types of things. I don’t believe we need that. I think we need immigration reform. Just because I’m a Democrat doesn’t mean I believe in everything the ultra-Democrats believe in. I’ll always do what’s best for the community,” concluded Kratman.

“I’m a proud progressive,” declared Wilmington Democratic Town Committee Chair Erika Johnson (D-Wilmington). “For someone who doesn’t necessarily agree with me, [they should know] my big thing is accessibility and transparency. I signed on to a pledge with 14 other women across the Commonwealth who are running for the State House. We are going to stand for roll call votes.”

“If elected, I am accountable to the voters, not anyone else. Bi-weekly, I would issue a newsletter that would be available on all media platforms, and written for people who don’t have access to a computer, where I would highlight all the bills that came up for a vote in the house chamber, how I voted, and why,” added Johnson. 

“I would consider myself a Blue Dog Democrat,” said former Miceli Chief of Staff Dave Robertson (D-Tewksbury). “Growing up here, it was the way I was raised. My folks raised me to give a hand up to a neighbor in need, but I believe that are system, to an extent, has evolved to sometimes give handouts, and that’s not right. Nobody in Tewksbury or Wilmington is going to leave their neighbor hanging high and dry in the time of a crisis.”

“A discussion needs to happen across the board of all ideologies. I learned that under Representative Miceli, who I will always remember, and never forget, the phrase he told me — ‘vote for those who voted for you.’ He didn’t mean a special interest group. He didn’t mean the party. He meant the fine folks in the community… I will treat everyone’s issue, no matter how big or small, with the same attention, regardless of party,” concluded Robertson.

(Editor’s Note: A “Blue Dog Democrat” is a political term typically meant to denote a “conservative Democrat.” Robertson previously identified himself as a moderate Democrat in a Wilmington Apple Q&A, but also expressed “conservative” views on certain issues, noting ideology alone doesn’t determine a candidate’s position on every issue.)

Ever Vote For A Republican? Opinion Of Governor Baker?

Later in the debate, in response to a resident question, O’Connell, Kratman and Johnson noted they could not recall ever voting for a Republican. McCoy cited Ronald Reagan in 1980. Robertson said he once voted for former U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) because he liked part of his message and wanted a bi-partisan federal delegation from Massachusetts, but indicated he would later regret his vote.

The five candidates were also asked to grade the performance of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican. O’Connell gave a B+. Kratman handed out a C+. Johnson issued a D-. Robertson went with a B-. McCoy dolled out a solid B.

Watch the debate, courtesy of Wilmington Community Television, below. Jump to the 37:20 mark to watch much of what was written above.

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