L’Italien Rips ‘machines’ Aiding Trahan, Koh
By Hillary Chabot
BOSTON -- State Sen. Barbara L’Italien, with a blistering attack against her politically wired congressional rivals, is blasting their deep ties to powerhouses pols such as Mayor Marty Walsh and University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan.
L’Italien -- one of 12 Democrats running for the 3rd Congressional District seat, anchored by Lowell -- accused, in an interview on Boston Herald Radio on Tuesday, the Boston mayor of playing a strong role in his former chief of staff Daniel Koh’s $2.5 million fundraising haul.
“Everyone’s gaga over Mr. Koh because Marty Walsh is more than giving him a push forward in this race,” said the Andover Democrat, who cast Koh as a carpetbagger propped up by outside interests.
“I think if you look at the money from developers, from law firms, even the labor unions, I think there is incredible pressure being brought to bear by the mayor of Boston,” L’Italien added.
First-time candidate Lori Trahan, meanwhile, boasts endorsements from Merrimack Valley insiders such as Lowell state Rep. David Nangle -- fruit of the support from her onetime boss and former Lowell congressman Meehan.
“Lori Trahan inherited all of Marty Meehan’s political machine,” said L’Italien, who has strong ties to Beacon Hill as a longtime state legislator. Meehan is now president of the University of Massachusetts system and lobbies for state and federal funding for campuses all over the state.
The influential benefactors highlight a growing concern in the hotly contested race to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas -- ongoing meddling from powerful outsiders with interests miles away from the Merrimack Valley.
“We’ve seen time after time where people try to blow into a congressional district to win with a lot of money, and I just believe the people in the 3rd Congressional District are more sophisticated than that,” L’Italien said. “I think they’re very skeptical of that money. I think they really want people to come in and earn their vote.”
Koh’s campaign brushed off questions about Walsh’s role -- and whether the Hub mayor will continue to wield influence if Koh is elected. Walsh’s office declined to comment.
“Instead of hurling personal attacks, Dan is focused on the issues that matter to people,” said Koh spokesman Justin Curtis. “If he’s fortunate to be elected to Congress to represent the 3rd District, his sole focus will be standing up to this president’s dangerous policies and fighting for universal health care, an economy where everyone has a chance to succeed and high-quality schools for our children.”
Meehan, meanwhile, said he hasn’t faced a serious political campaign in years.
“I don’t have a political machine and I have been out of politics for 11 years,” said Meehan. As head of the state’s sprawling university system, however, he maintains close connections with power brokers both in the Merrimack Valley and out of it.
L’Italien also questioned former Obama fundraiser Rufus Gifford’s nearly $1 million fundraising haul, saying he benefited from the banking ties of his father, former Bank of America CEO Chuck Gifford.
“I’m running on my own. I don’t have somebody pushing me. I don’t have a benefactor. I’m doing it on my record and my substantial political base and my body of work,” L’Italien said.