^ PAC’d up talking points : Mike Valanzola of Wales


^ talking the Tea from tax to tightwad ; James Ehrhard says that Stephen Brewer is  Brookline liberal

—- —- —-

As I cover this year’s Governor election, on a statewide basis, I am struck by the number of Republican state legislature candidates from Central Massachusetts who talk the same glib. From Sturbridge to Athol, Clinton to Chicopee, Winchendon to Uxbridge, Ware to Phillipston, you hear what the Cato Institute and its local farm teams, the Mass Fiscal alliance and the Pioneer Institute, have on offer. As if city-based, billionaire-funded policy pushers had anything to say to people living on or close to the edge in towns far beyond the technology quadrant of our state, towns lacking infrastructure, and sometimes health care,effective  schooling or even visibility — the region being vastly under-served by major media.

Ground zero for robo-think Republicanism may well be the State Senate seat now held by Stephen Brewer,a  Democrat who talks the “job creator” poop as glibly as any PAC-d up Republican. Brewer is waiting on the winner of two GOP opponents : Mike Valanzola of Wales and James Ehrhard of Sturbridge. Ehrhard sounds even more Tea-tongued than the rigidly PAC-i-fied Valanzola, and his negative tone doesn’t have much legs : in 2010 he lost a selectman race in Sturbridge by a vote of 1039 to 764. Valanzola in 2012 gave up, after two terms, his selectman seat in tiny Wales; but Valanzola is, so far, running by far the more intense campaign. Central Massachusetts’s Tea-friendly activists badly want the Brewer senate seat, and they have reason to be cheerful : the district’s towns include a bushel of towns that Republicans carry by 30, even 40 points. As Ehrhard points out, Scott Brown in 2010 and Charlie Baker in 2012 carried every one of the district’s 28 communities.

Still, it chills me to see candidates in this hardscrabble district talking Tea fury or  expensively hired bull-bleep. If any area of Massachusetts needs straight talk, and mucho state assistance on many, many fronts, its the Worcester, Hampden, and Hampshire senate district.


^ Democrat on the Tea hot seat staring down PAC flux : 25-year Beacon Hill veteran Stephen Brewer of Spencer

The imposition of PAC-d up quackery isn’t by any means restricted to the Brewer race. Nor the venting of Tea. All Central Massachusetts groans of them. One would think that the Central Massachusetts GOP hopefuls whose facebook pages, twitter feeds, and campaign websites I surf would voice the voices of their towns (few are running in a city); but no : almost all churn out the exact same GreedPAC robo-call, or worse : cut taxes, repeal taxes; don’t raise the minimum wage ; make public assistance almost impossible to get; harass immigrants; go for your guns. Hasn’t anybody got anything original to say ? That suggests a mind at work, not just a lip ?

You confront one of the more aware of these sloganeers, as I have, and you get the answer ‘we need better solutions.” So how about suggesting some ? Maybe.

From the others, all you get is defriended or blocked. Debate not permitted in Central Massachusetts !

PAC-ism is the curse of politics today, especially toxic to regions lacking diversity in people, political party, or media. The Democratic party has PACs too, as we in Boston recently confronted; but these PACs have, it seems, made a decision not to shuttle resources to an area they do not need to win because they already own supermajorities in the legislature; a region lacking in Democratic reliables : Union members, educators, health care interests, and urban planners. Cato-ism thus has free rein — more or less — to rule the unpopulous midsection of our state.

The effect is to drive Republican victory in Massachusetts farther and farther away from  the big cities and from the issues and concerns that big city voters have. It’s a temptation that, right now, our GOP is hard-pressed not to surrender to, a message from the “Quabbin quorum,” so to speak, that will impact city people’s impression of GOP governor hopeful Charlie Baker as much and diligently as he rejects it.

Thus the Democratic party’s light touch in Central Massachusetts be pays big dividends for them.

After all, why not let your opponents voice stuff that doesn’t pass the nutrient test ? You’ve heard the same crap now since 2009. You know it by heart ::

1.”free up the ‘job creators’ to hire people.” Businesses do not hire because taxes are cut. They hire because demand for their product or service increases. Consumer demand amounts to TWO THIRDS OF THE ENTIRE ECONOMY. it can NOT grow if consumers’ income does not grow.

2.”cut taxes, slash public assistance, cut state spending.” How, pray, does it aid the economy to cut taxes ? Our economy cannot grow as it should if our roads, bridges, and transit are constantly in repair, jamming up traffic (no need for a Bridge-gate here, we have a kind of one going on, by itself, every day). Our economy cannot grow if state education spending cuts school needs. Our economy cannot grow if out of work workers can be retrained, can’t get unemployment assistance, can’t get to work because the transit system can’t do maintenance and car updates.

3.Don’t raise the minimum wage, mom and pop businesses will go bust.” That I doubt. If a business is so marginal that it can’t pay its employees enough to not need public assistance, it shouldn’t be in business at all. There may be some such; but there are far, far more working people — and most minimum wage workers are women — who can’t make ends meet, who can’t participate in the growth economy, whose low wages we taxpayers subsidize. This must stop.

4.”force the undocumented immigrants out” : talk about self-defeating ! Every immigrant, documented or not, is a consumer; every consumer maintains the economy.

5.”more guns make us safer.” This one I won’t even dignify. I’m done there.

Why, I ask, why is this haunch gunk being spread across Central Massachusetts, the state’s neediest region, where huge State investment is needed badly, in schools, transit, roads, career centers, and better wages ? A region where many people go unnoticed by any media — except when a tragedy strikes, such as the recent death of a Fitchburg area child in DFC foster care — and basically are left to fend for themselves ?

Expect very little of this to be said out loud in the Stephen Brewer contest with either the angry Ehrhard or the polished Valanzola. Under the table, however, the future of a very dry-rub region of our state will be profoundly affected. Because in theory, at least, Brewer is a Democrat, and he cannot be entirely overlooked, every day, by the big egos in the big city to his east.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

CORRECTION : an earlier version of this story had James Ehrhard being a  Sturbridge selectman, whereas in fact he lost that race in 2010, to Mary B. Dowling by 1039 to 764.

UPDATE 01/21/14 : four days ago, Stephen Brewer announced that he will not seek re-election. His very GOP-leaning seat is now open — maybe — for GOP pick-up.


  1. It’s called fact checking, Valanzola never lost his Selectman seat, he ran and served two terms winning both times with a majority of the vote. Ehrhard is not a selectman in Sturbridge he lost that election. I have a feeling this whole blog would sing a different song if you did a simple Google Search.


    1. Thank you fir the heads-up. It was difficult to find the selectman in Sturbridge facts. Have also updated the story now that Stephen Brewer has announced he will not seek re-election.


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