In the Merrimack Valley Part One: Dust-Up in Andover-Lawrence-Tewksbury’s 17th Essex Rep Race

The taking of the 17th Essex House of Representatives seat from the Democratic column into the GOP column in the November election is still causing a stir in the Merrimack Valley. The seat came “open” when current Rep Barry Finegold chose to run in the Democratic primary for the Second Essex Middlesex State Senate seat left open by the retirement of  Senator Sue Tucker. With former Andover School Committee Chair Deb Silverstein getting into the state senate race rather that the rep race that many thought she’d win going away, it fell to Mass Dem State Committee member and Andover Dem Town Committe Chair Pat Commane to step up and run.  Coalition for Marriage and Family regional director and political activist Paul Adams of Andover won the GOP primary. The stage was set but one political player – Lawrence Mayor and Democratic State Committee member William Lantigua while a big help to Democrat Finegold was not a supporter of fellow Dem Commane. Greater numbers in the district’s Lawrence precincts could have off-set her showing in Tewksbury. It’s a “no-no” for DSC members to openly endorse the opponent of a Democratic nominee.  All DSC members know that violation of the rule can lead to expulsion – and it happens! Commane is looking for for action against Lantigua. Lantigua is thinking of turning the tables and leaving the Democratic party but boasts if he ran again for the DSC seat he would win.

“If someone notified us that a member of the state committee had supported an opponent of the Democratic nominee — a Republican or whatever — if it’s a partisan election and they publicly supported someone who opposed the Democratic nominee, they’d be subject to removal from the committee,” Walsh said. (John Walsh is the Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair)

The committee has 400 members, who set policy and organize conventions for the party.

Lantigua said he’s ready for a fight.

“If I’m deposed, I would run again,” he said. “And the people would elect me again, without any doubt.”

Read Keith Eddings article in the Eagle-Tribune here for more details on the story.