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Western Massachusetts U.S. Representatives face contested races in November

Rep. Richard Neal, left, and Rep. Jim McGovern in file photos.
Rep. Richard Neal, left, and Rep. Jim McGovern in file photos.

The two U.S. Representatives covering the western part of Massachusetts are facing Republican competition in November’s general election.

In the First Congressional District. Longtime U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield is facing a challenge from Republican Dean Martilli, of West Springfield.

Neal chairs the House Ways and Committee and was first elected to Congress in 1988. Martilli was the chief of staff to former Rhode Island Representative Patrick Kennedy, a Democrat, but has since switched party affiliations.

In this contest, the challenger is at a massive fundraising disadvantage. The latest campaign finance data filed last month shows Neal had more than $3.3 million on hand. Martilli stood at $3,400.

Martilli acknowledged the incumbent could probably raise even more money, but said he would be undeterred in getting his message out.

"Richie Neal's a rubber stamp for (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi," Martilli said. "I hardly find anyone that I talk to that likes that woman and her policies."

Martilli also has come out against expanded passenger rail service between Boston and western Massachusetts, something Neal has been a staunch supporter of. Martilli argued the project would not end up benefiting the western part of the state economically or otherwise.

A spokesperson for Neal’s campaign did not return requests for comment.

The first district covers the far western and southern parts of western Massachusetts — including Berkshire County and Hampden counties.

McGovern faces Sossa-Paquette

Worcester U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, also has a Republican challenger in his bid for re-election in Massachusetts' Second Congressional District.

Jeffrey Sossa-Paquette Shrewsbury owns a childcare business. He said he jumped into the race because the situation for the families he works with has worsened over the years and he’s concerned for the future.

He's taking on McGovern, the chair of the House Rules Committee, who holds a large fundraising advantage. Through mid-August, McGovern had raised nearly $880,00 during this election cycle, having spent better than $720,000. He still had $423,000. Soss-Paquette had raised $133,000, spent $121,000, but reported having only $12,000 on hand.

However, Sossa-Paquette said he's willing to spend his own money and was matching donations that came in.

"If I have to spend a million dollars of my own money...over the course of this campaign, I will do so," Sossa-Paquette said. "I believe in what I'm doing and you have to put your money where your mouth is if you what to go make a change."

In a statement, McGovern, who was first elected in 1996, called Sossa-Paquette a “Trump Republican” and said candidates like his rival “have a dark vision for America's future. They want to outlaw abortion, totally eliminate social security, attack human rights and undermine the foundations of our democracy. The stakes this November have never been higher — this is the most important election of our lifetime.”

McGovern also said he was proud of his record “delivering for the Pioneer Valley and beyond.” He cited efforts to keep the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northampton open, fighting to protect the Deerfield River and securing funds to combat the opioid epidemic.

The Second District covers a swath of central and western Massachusetts stretching from southern Worcester County northward into Hampshire and Frankin counties. It includes Amherst, Greenfield, Northampton and Worcester.

Election Day is Nov. 8.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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