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Berkshire Congressional Candidates Wrap Up Signature Push
By Joe Durwin, Special to iBerkshires
05:41PM / Friday, May 04, 2012
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Bill Shein of Alford, above, said he's closing in on the number of signatures. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., left, was the first candidate to submit signatures for the primary. Both are hoping to retire U.S. Rep. Richard Neal.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. became the first candidate to submit nomination papers to appear on the ballot for the Sept. 6 Democratic primary for the redrawn 1st Massachusetts District. 

The former state senator from Pittsfield turned in his signatures to the secretary of the commonwealth's Springfield office Thursday.

In total, 2,249 signatures collected by his campaign were submitted. His campaign celebrated by launching a fundraising appeal later in the day asking for donations of $22.49.

"Being the first candidate to complete this monumental task is a clear sign of the strength of our organization and message," Nuciforo said at a press conference at the Springfield office. "Voters across central and Western Massachusetts have told me time, and time again that after 24 years, they're ready to send a strong Democrat to Washington that will stand up for woman's right to choose, and stand up against the Wall Street deregulation ushered on by Rep. [Richard] Neal."

"This is the first time Rep. Neal has had a meaningful primary challenge, so thanks to the dozens of volunteers, interns, family and friends that were out pounding the pavement and knocking on doors to secure my name on the Sept. 6 primary ballot, we're one step closer toward being represented by a real progressive."

Bill Shein's campaign is in the final stages of signature collecting, the Alford resident said at an appearance at a May Day rally held in Pittsfield on Tuesday. He described the campaign as "going quite well."

"I'm running against a couple of candidates, one of whom has an awful lot of money," Shein told supporters at the Park Square rally. Shein pointed out that a cornerstone of his platform has been the need to reform the influence of money in politics, which he said has become a leading issue in the campaign. 

"Here I am, some guy from Alford, raising small money, and the conversation in the campaign for three and a half months now has been about the issues that I'm advancing. So I take that as a real sign that what we're talking about is something that people care a lot about."

These recent comments continue a running theme in challenges by the two Berkshire County candidates of their opponent, Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield, which is shifting into the 1st Mass District. Neal, who has served the 2nd District since 1989, has a vast lead over Nuciforo and Shein in spendable campaign funds.

All three declared candidates in the race recently released campaign financing reports for the first quarter of 2012. Neal raised a total of $122,875 between January and March, compared to $42,493 for Nuciforo and $11,235 for Shein, but the latter candidates pointed to distinctions in the breakdown of income. A majority ($101,250) of Neal's quarterly gain came from committees and PACs, from whom his opponents say they will not accept contributions.  Nuciforo pointed out that he outraised Neal 2 to 1 in individual contributions, while Shein, who only accepts donations of $99 or less, touted his more than $11,000 in unitemized individual contributions (under $200) over Neal's $4,125 in this small donation category.

Neal has repeatedly dismissed the notion that large donations from PACs influence his priorities in Congress.

"Successful political campaigns raise money to make sure their candidate's message is heard by voters," Neal spokesman William Tranghese said in a statement. "Congressman Neal is grateful to the many men and women in the district and neighboring states who donate to his campaign and are supporting his re-election."
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