Frank Phillips: Tsongas Seat at Center of Redistricting Stand-off

Frank Phillips – veteran Globe writer and longtime observer of the political scene in Massachusetts – writes today about the redistricting stand-off over the Fifth Congressional District seat currently held by Niki Tsongas. The point at  issue is – as I blogged about yesterday – the House plan to cut one of the essential core communities – the city of  Lawrence – out of the Fifth and hand it over to the Sixth District and Congressman John Tierney.  From the Phillips article:

  The city of Lawrence has become the latest battleground in the Legislature’s final push to redraw its congressional districts, with US Representative Niki Tsongas of Lowell, the delegation’s only woman, fighting off a plan to take the heavily Democratic community from her district and give it to Representative John Tierney of Salem. The stand-off, which just surfaced in the last few days, has become the main sticking point in the process, according to sources who have been briefed on the proposal .

Tsongas and  Fifth District allies Senate President Therese Murray and State Senator Eileen Donoghue (D-1M) decry this treatment of Tsongas. Murray has apparantly made it clear to legislative leaders that she would oppose any move that would put the congresswoman “in harm’s way.” In my view – making the most reliably Democratic community in the District a  give-away to John Tierney would do that. Despite claims of  “hands-off”  and “whatever works” by Tierney friends, nine Lawrence city council members and many community groups and individuals are making their positions known to the redistricting committee –  keep Lawrence in the Fifth in the heart of the Merrimack Valley where it has been since 1962. With the retirement of Congressman Olver of the First District, this committee has other directions to move towards and maybe they should look at the tightly tortured districts cluttering Greater Boston before violating the commonality, history and traditions of the Fifth District.

For full disclosure – yes I am the “Maureen” Sweeney quoted in the Phillips article saying: “they are throwing Niki and Lawrence under the bus.”

Read the full Frank Phillips article here at or on page B-1 of today’s Boston Globe METRO section. And stay tuned for the fall-out!