Tracking down Republicans in Dorchester is kind of like going on safari on the moon. Not a lot of elephants leave their prints around these parts. And if they do, they tend to cover 'em up pretty fast.
One man from South Boston is hoping to buck that trend next month, as he takes on incumbent State Senator Jack Hart in the First Suffolk district. Walter Campbell is proud of his GOP affiliation and decided that taking on the district's newest state senator was a good way to prove it.
A Vietnam veteran, originally from Savin Hill, Campbell has a diverse resume that includes working as the Chief Financial Officer for the towns of Westwood and Winthrop. These days, he works as a contractor, spending much of his time doing emergency home repairs for seniors under a contract from Kit Clark Senior Services. In past years, he's worked as an auditor in the Medicaid Fraud division of the Attorney General's office- and did similar work on the federal level for the U.S. Department of Health.
Campbell says he "went right" in 1988, disgusted with the Dukakis administration's tax-and-spend policies. He's never looked back.
In September, Campbell won the Republican nomination for Senate, beating out serial candidate Althea Garrison, 778 votes to 342. (Actually, Campbell's closest rival was 'Blanks', which finished the day with 489 votes, according to the city's ballot counters.)
It's his first run for office, although he attempted to make the ballot in this year's special election, in which Hart defeated Garrison by an 80 percent margin to win the Senate seat vacated by Steve Lynch.
"I'm a true Republican," says Campbell. "A Teddy Roosevelt Republican."
Campbell's campaign literature promises to eliminate the auto excise tax, cut the legislature's salaries by 25 percent and to privatize the new convention center in South Boston. Campbell says he is a fiscal conservative, who wants to prune the waste in state government, but at the same time target the neediest people- seniors and the poor- for more services.
"The public is fed up with this legislature," Campbell contends, citing the people he's met on the campaign trail thus far. "They don't like the lack of concern for the public. It's all political hat-tipping.
"And I'm hearing this from a lot of Democrats, too," he says.
That's not a big surprise, given that Republicans make up only about six percent of the First Suffolk by Campbell's estimation. That means that Campbell's been courting voters of all stripes in his door-knocking campaign, which he says has taken him from Southie to Mattapan.
While he has not taken direct aim at Senator Hart, Campbell's campaign literature features a slogan that urges "vote with your head, not with your heart." The current senator, Campbell suggests, is too closely aligned with the powers-that-be at the State House, who have "run up these deficits and offended the process of democracy."
"I think these guys are a bunch of lousy politicians," Campbell says.
Campbell is hoping for a big victory on November 5, not only for himself, but for Mitt Romney. And although his campaign has not been funded by the Republican state committee, Campbell says he is starting to get some financial backing from sympathetic Republican office-holders from elsewhere in the state.
Campbell, however, may find that even well-known Republican-leaning voters in Dorchester may be with his opponent on election day, however.
Danny Ryan, the Savin Hill man who supported the last three successful Republican tickets for Governor and is going for a fourth with Mitt Romney, says he'll be with Jack Hart next month.
"Walter's a good and admirable guy," Danny says. "But in my mind, Jackie Hart is best person I've ever met in this game. He's too good for politics."
Walter Campbell will be featured in a televised forum with Senator Hart, moderated by Joe Heisler, on Sunday (Oct. 20) from 5-5:30 p.m. on BNN channel 9.
Hart Adds to Senate Staff
Senator Jack Hart has made two new additions to his State Senate this month, including a first for Dorchester's political delegation: a Vietnamese man from the neighborhood.
Nathan Pham, a former intern at Viet-AID and Duke University grad, will be Hart's liaison to the Vietnamese community, according to the senator.
"Nathan Pham is a tremendous asset to my staff and a wonderful resource for the people of Dorchester, Mattapan and South Boston," Hart said in a press release. "He brings unique insight to the concerns of many of my constituents, as well as energy and enthusiasm to my staff."
The Fields Corner man is also joined by another new person in Hart's office, Matt Sances, a South Boston man who most recently taught at St. Peter School in Southie. They join Rosemary Powers of Savin Hill and Karen Crowley of Fields Corner in Hart's office.
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