Humorist Challenges Neal, Nuciforo for Mass. Congressional Seat

A new candidate has emerged seeking the democratic nomination to represent Massachusetts' new First Congressional District.

Bill Shein, a Great Barrington columnist, humorist and activist, says campaign finance reform is the key progressive issue he would champion in Congress. And he says he will limit his campaign fund-raising to donations of 99 dollars or less from individuals.

"To begin to fight back against corporate money and influence in our elections. That's not being championed nearly enough in Washington. You can't fight against corporate influence when you take that money in your campaign."

Shein will take on Middle Berkshire Registrar of deeds Andrea Nuciforo and — the likely heavyweight in the race — long-time Springfield Congressman Richard Neal. The expanded district will include much of Neal's existing Springfield-area territory, as well as all of the Berkshires, which had been represented by retiring Congressman John Olver.

Shein says Neal's been a good democrat – but not good enough — particularly on campaign finance reform. Neal's campaign committee raised more than 400,000 dollars in 2011 and this year. Almost three-quarters of that CAME from political action committees, according to the Federal Election Commission records.

"What are you going to stand up and really fight for? Not just vote this way or that way on things that see the light of day, but what are you going to force onto the agenda and speak out about from day one?"  

Shein says he also supports an expanded Medicare program, permanently banning former Congress members from lobbying on Capitol Hill, and opposes allowing corporations so-called "personhood" status in U-S law.