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GOP Senate Hopeful Comes Out Swinging in 1st Middlesex

September 6, 2018

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LOWELL -- The Republican candidate vying for the 1st Middlesex Senate seat came out swinging Wednesday morning, mere hours after City Councilor Edward Kennedy clinched the Democratic nomination among the crowded field.

John MacDonald, the lone GOP candidate in Tuesday’s primary for the state Senate race, had a radio ad ready to go -- stating that the Democratic candidate will support Massachusetts becoming a sanctuary state.

“Don’t let Lowell become Lawrence,” the ad stated Wednesday morning.

MacDonald, an unsuccessful City Council candidate in 2011, later took to social media on Wednesday, saying that Kennedy would vote to make Massachusetts a sanctuary state.

“When has any community benefited by becoming a sanctuary city?” MacDonald said. “We need to fight against it.”

The Republican also took a page out of President Donald Trump’s playbook, giving Kennedy a nickname on social media: “Unethical Ed.” As part of that post, MacDonald linked to a state Ethics Commission ruling from 1995, in which the commission ruled that Kennedy pay a $500 fine.

“We’re not going to let people forget about it,” MacDonald said. “That’s not the type of politician we need at the Statehouse.”

Kennedy brushed off MacDonald’s sanctuary state attacks on Wednesday, saying he hadn’t heard the radio ad or seen the posts on social media.

The city councilor added that MacDonald has always been trying to create issues like this.

“His M.O. is to go negative,” Kennedy said. “He has nothing good to say about himself, so he just goes negative. That’s the way he’s been since entering Lowell politics.

“Lowell isn’t a sanctuary city, so I don’t know what he’s talking about,” he added about MacDonald. “I don’t remember ever saying anything like that.”

In response to MacDonald bringing up the state Ethics Commission ruling from 1995, Kennedy said that was a long time ago.

“I don’t think he’s going to make a lot of headway talking about things from long ago,” Kennedy said.

In that ruling more than 20 years ago, the commission investigated Kennedy for violating the state conflict-of-interest law. Kennedy was a Middlesex County commissioner at the time, and was running for the Middlesex North District register of deeds.

By July 1994, he had obtained voter registration lists as “checked,” indicating who had voted in prior elections, for the nine towns in the district but not for Lowell. At Kennedy’s request, two county employees moved a Middlesex County copier from the county’s office in Cambridge to Lowell’s election office.

The employees tried to use the copy machine for the Lowell voter list, but the machine would not work. As a result, Kennedy instructed the county employees to return the machine to Cambridge, and he paid $115 to have the voter list copied at a commercial copier.

The commission wrote in its ruling: “By borrowing and attempting to use a county copy machine for campaign purposes, Kennedy used and/or attempted to use his official position to secure an unwarranted privilege of substantial value.”

The civil penalty was $500.

“We need sweeping ethics reform in the MA State Senate,” MacDonald wrote on Facebook Wednesday morning. “My opponent Ed Kennedy is an example of bad ethics.”

MacDonald said he would bring common-sense to Beacon Hill, fighting against illegal immigration, he added.

Just like his primary campaign, Kennedy said he will continue with a positive message during the general election campaign.

“Residents want to hear about the future, and how we’re going to address the issues of today, and the issues that will affect the future,” Kennedy said.

On Tuesday, the city councilor and former mayor emerged victorious from a competitive field, including two other former mayors, to represent the 1st Middlesex District as the Democratic nominee.

Eileen Donoghue represented the 1st Middlesex Senate District -- which besides Lowell includes the suburban communities of Dunstable, Groton, Pepperell, Tyngsboro and Westford -- from 2010 to earlier this year. Then in April, the Lowell City Council selected her as city manager.

This domino led to five Democrats vying for the Senate seat: Kennedy, City Councilor Rodney Elliott, former City Councilor Bill Martin, former Westford School Committee member Terry Ryan and Lowell’s John Drinkwater, legislative director of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.

Unofficial totals from district communities show Kennedy with 4,636 votes, followed by Drinkwater with 4,188 votes, Elliott with 3,509 votes, Ryan with 2,825 votes and Martin with 2,299 votes.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.

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