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Kerry for president (continued)

THE PRESIDENTIAL campaign has overshadowed other contests that will be on the ballot this Tuesday. Nevertheless, a number of legislative contests warrant a closer look.

In the 34th Middlesex District, which comprises West Somerville and South Medford, Carl Sciortino is the clear choice. Sciortino, who defeated incumbent House member Vincent Ciampa in the Democratic primary, does not have an opponent on the ballot. However, Ciampa is mounting a write-in challenge as an independent, and lingering feelings over same-sex marriage — which Sciortino, an openly gay man, supports, and Ciampa opposes — mean that Sciortino’s election is not a sure thing. He has been viciously attacked by right-wing groups calling him a "homosexual, anti-Catholic extremist." A photo of Sciortino and another man holding hands, turning their backs to the altar during a Catholic mass to protest the Church’s anti-gay stance, is making the rounds as well. Voters should say "no" to the haters and send Sciortino to Beacon Hill.

In the Eighth Suffolk District, voters would do well to elect Democrat Marty Walz over Republican Richard Babson and a third-party candidate in the contest to replace Paul Demakis, who is retiring. The district — comprising the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, the West End, and Cambridgeport — has sent a number of outstanding House members to the State House. Demakis has been a progressive stalwart; among his predecessors are Tom Vallely and, before him, Barney Frank. Walz, an education activist and former corporate lawyer, will be a worthy successor.

Two conservative Democratic legislators who took unexpectedly strong stands in favor of gay marriage have earned the Phoenix’s endorsement. In the 26th Middlesex District (parts of Cambridge and Somerville), Representative Tim Toomey should be re-elected over Republican challenger David Slavitt. In the Suffolk and Norfolk District, which includes Dorchester, Senator Marian Walsh is a social conservative who put her career at risk by supporting the right of same-sex couples to wed. She should prevail over her independent challenger, Robert Joyce.

No Democratic incumbent more richly deserves to lose next Tuesday than Representative Philip Travis, who represents the Fourth Bristol District, in Southeastern Massachusetts. Travis — the most visible leader in efforts to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage — is being opposed by a pro-gay-marriage Republican, Steven Howitt, whom the Phoenix enthusiastically endorses. In the Fourth Barnstable District, on the tip of Cape Cod, Democratic challenger Sarah Peake gets the nod over Republican representative Shirley Gomes, who has the distinction of carrying an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association. In the Norfolk, Bristol, and Middlesex District, in MetroWest, Democrat Angus McQuilken, a progressive who was an aide to former state senator Cheryl Jacques, deserves to be elected over Senator Scott Brown, who defeated McQuilken in a special election earlier this year that was widely seen as a referendum on gay marriage; McQuilken supports it, Brown opposes it.

There are a number of incumbent Democratic legislators with progressive records who are facing well-funded Republican opponents, and who should be re-elected next Tuesday. Among the more prominent are Representative Kay Khan and Senator Cynthia Creem, both of Newton; Representative Ted Speliotis, of Danvers; and Senator Susan Fargo, of Lincoln. Senator Creem is an effective legislator who is in no danger of losing her seat. But it’s worth noting that her Republican challenger, Matthew Fraser, reportedly showed up late to their debate on local cable television, had to be told to spit out his gum and take his hands out of his pockets, and gave himself just a one-in-100 chance of winning. This is the face of the new Republican Party that Romney is trying to build?

The polls will be open next Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you’re registered but not sure where to vote, you can call your local city or town clerk. In Boston, the number is (617) 635-4635; in Cambridge, (617) 349-4361; in Somerville, (617) 625-4987; and in Brookline, (617) 730-2010. To see where 20 candidates stand on seven important questions in 10 state legislative races, see our voters’ guide at bostonphoenix.com/stateraces. The old cliché that this may be the most important election of our lifetime might actually be true this year. It is vital that all of us take part.

What do you think? Send an e-mail to letters[a]phx.com

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Issue Date: October 29 - November 4, 2004
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