Contenders for the 5th Middlesex state Senate seat continue to battle over social issues, such as a women’s rights and marriage equality, less than two weeks from the election.
The campaign for Rep. Jason Lewis, D-Winchester, has not shied away from criticizing Melrose Alderman-at-Large Monica Medeiros, the Republican candidate, on her beliefs on social issues — which he claims are not representative of residents in the district.
In a press release issued on March 4, following Lewis’ win in the primary, campaign manager Suzanne Schlossberg wrote that Medeiros "has been praised by the most extreme anti-equality and anti-choice organizations in the northeast. She’s supported the Tea Party movement and helped dictate the Republican Platform’s extreme agenda items."
"Our concern is that many of my opponent’s views are, frankly, out of the mainstream of the residents of the 5th Middlesex District — her views on women’s health, her views on gay rights," Lewis told the Melrose Free Press this week. "It makes it difficult to bring people together to achieve the results and the progress that the residents of our communities expect from their respective leaders."
Medeiros argues Lewis’ claims are misleading and are a ploy to move the focus from issues that matter.
"I believe Jason Lewis is trying…to distract from his record on taxes and spending," she said. "His policies have hurt families, because they’re taking more and more money away from them. Even people who are Democrats are upset with his characterization of me. I hope the voters will reject his tactics."
Schlossberg provided the Melrose Free Press with background information from online sources to support the campaign’s statements about Medeiros.
"We’re being very careful to make sure we are as accurate as possible — by saying she has been endorsed by anti-gay, anti-choice organizations — that we haven’t crossed any truth boundaries here," Schlossberg said.
Lewis and Medeiros will face off at the polls on April 1 to replace former state Sen. Katherine Clark, who was elected to Congress earlier this year.
Equal rights issues
Schlossberg pointed out Medeiros received support from MassResistance, a pro-family activist group that promotes socially conservative views on issues like same-sex marriage, abortion and the transgender community.
"She’s been praised and has gotten the endorsement from anti-equality and anti-choice organizations, including MassResistance," Schlossberg said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights advocacy organization, lists MassResistance as an anti-gay group.
During Medeiros’ run for state representative in 2010, MassResistance claimed the Melrosian was "completely with us on the issues" in an online post.
Medeiros said she’s never spoken to MassResistance during any of her campaigns.
"I never responded to any kind of questionnaire or had any type of questionnaire with them," she said. "I have not had any kind of communication with them on this issue."
The Melrose resident said she is pro-life and in favor of traditional marriage. While she has not focused her campaign on these issues, Medeiros said people should be able to express their own opinions and values.
"I think my record of service in the city hasn’t in any way discriminated against anyone for any reason, but I’m entitled to have my own religious beliefs," she added. "We should be able to have diversity of opinion without being vilified. That’s not tolerant."
Lewis, who is pro-choice and supports marriage equality and transgender equal rights, reiterated that Medeiros’ views would hinder her ability to serve constituents.
"That’s been brought to me by many people, many people across all of the communities," he said. "Those are views that they are deeply concerned about. In the end, I think it will be difficult to represent all of the families in the district."
Medeiros countered that many residents share her values, adding that given the low turnout for the primary, Lewis doesn’t necessarily reflect the majority of voters.
"I don’t think that he represents the values of the district," she said.
Tea Party/Republican platform
The Lewis campaign stated Medeiros is a supporter of the Tea Party movement, which calls for a reduction in government spending and restricting tax increases.
Medeiros said she supports the Constitution of the United States and can sympathize with the overall message behind the movement.
"Their motto has become ‘taxed enough already,’" she said. "Do I agree with that? Yeah, I do, and I think a lot of people in Massachusetts agree with that. I think people want a well-run government that operates within its means. They don’t necessarily feel like they’re getting that."
She pointed to rising health insurance premiums and fuel expenses as examples of costs that are taking a toll on residents.
"I think people want their freedom protected," Medeiros added. "There’s only so much they can give, and they’re not necessarily getting higher salaries."
The Lewis campaign also claims that because Medeiros served on the Massachusetts Republican Party Platform Committee in 2010, she has participated in shaping the party’s "extreme agenda items."
"Although she was not part of the committee [during the past few years], the past agenda regressed in terms of positions that are settled law: marriage equality and pro-choice opposition for women," Schlossberg said. "She has been part of the party movement…that indicates a level of adherence to a party platform that no longer represents the values of the district."
Medeiros said the platform in 2010 did not include any references to abortion or same-sex marriage.
"The platform that is out now that came from the platform committee, I had absolutely nothing to do with, and I believe Mr. Lewis knows that," she said.
Over the past week the Jason Lewis campaign announced endorsements from Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-Melrose), State Rep. Paul Brodeur (D – Melrose), State Rep. Paul Donato (D – Medford), State Rep. Jim Dwyer (D – Woburn) and former Wakefield School Committee member and candidate for State Senate Anthony Guardia.
Over the past week the Monica Medeiros campaign announced an endorsement from the Melrose Firefighter Executive Board of Local 1617.