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Political Campaign Notebook: Ellen Story backs Natalie Blais in 1st Franklin race

  • Tahirah Amatul-Wadud announced her bid for a Congressional Seat at McCuskers Market in Shelburne Falls on Tuesday morning. December 19, 2017 Paul Franz

  • Natalie Blais is the new Executive Director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. August 21, 2017. Paul Franz , Paul Franz


Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Story backs Blais

In addition to gathering signatures for her nomination papers, Natalie Blais of Sunderland has picked up the endorsement of retired Rep. Ellen Story of Amherst. Blais is one of eight Democratic hopefuls vying for the 1st Franklin House seat being vacated by Rep. Stephen Kulik

“The role of state representative is not an entry-level job,” said Story, who retired in 2016 after 12 terms representing the 2nd Hampshire District. “This is particularly true, given the recent loss of seniority in the region’s state delegation. The person best equipped to serve the residents of the 1st Franklin District will have a progressive agenda coupled with time-tested experience and established relationships on Beacon Hill. That person is Natalie Blais.

“I worked closely with Natalie in her role as legislative aide to U.S. Reps. John Olver and Jim McGovern,” Story added. “I was always impressed by her knowledge of the issues, including broadband access, public education, transportation, climate change and social justice. Just as important, was her ability to bring a myriad of stakeholders together to identify solutions to the challenge she was working on. It is clear that Natalie cares deeply about the people and the region in which she lives and works. She is extremely capable and will no doubt ensure that the voices of rural western Massachusetts are heard on Beacon Hill right from the start.”

Blais, who is now executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, called Story “an extraordinary role model who moved the region forward, particularly on issues of importance to me, including women’s rights, K-12 education and support for our institutions of public higher education.”

Neal’s clout questioned

First Congressional District candidate Tahirah Amatul-Wadud issued a statement challenging the significance of the Ways and Means Committee seniority of Rep. Richard Neal, whom she is opposing for the Democratic candidacy in this fall’s election.

Amatul-Wadud, in a written statement last week, said if Democrats regain control of Congress in November, the retirement of current ranking member Rep. Sander Levin, D-Michigan, would leave Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, as senior ranking member of Ways and Means. With chairmanship by either Lewis or the current fourth-ranked Democrat, progressive Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas, she said, Democrats would be “in good hands.”

She said the Democratic Caucus selects committee chairmen based on “merit, length of service on the committee and degree of commitment to the Democratic agenda of the nominee, and the diversity of the Caucus” and pointed to the 30-year incumbent’s potential for chairmanship.

“It is perfectly fair to ask what kind of chairman he would be if the Democrats regain the House majority,” Amatul-Wadud said. “Rep. Neal’s voting record and advocacy of certain trade and tax policies suggest he would pursue an agenda favored by corporate special interests as opposed to those constituents in our congressional district ... His membership hasn’t served us yet.”