A Democratic divide

The 13th Congressional candidates look to separate themselves during a recent forum.

The lineup: Pic­tured are (from left) Dr. Valer­ie Arkoosh, state Sen. Daylin Leach state Rep. Brendan Boyle and Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates Dee Ad­cock and Beverly Plosa-Bow­ser. MATT SCHICK­LING / TIMES PHOTO

In the race for the 13th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict seat, wheels are be­gin­ning to turn, and not ex­actly in the same dir­ec­tion.

Five can­did­ates par­ti­cip­ated in a bi­par­tis­an for­um hos­ted by Demo­cracy Un­plugged at the Abing­ton Free Lib­rary on April 16. Demo­crats tak­ing part were state Rep. Brendan Boyle, state Sen. Daylin Leach and Dr. Valer­ie Arkoosh. Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates Dee Ad­cock and Beverly Plosa-Bow­ser were also in at­tend­ance.

After co­ex­ist­ing in sev­er­al for­ums over the last few weeks, the can­did­ates seem like they’re grow­ing com­fort­able enough to throw jabs at one an­oth­er, and col­lect­ively at former con­gress­wo­man Mar­jor­ie Mar­gol­ies, who has not yet joined a bi­par­tis­an de­bate. Mar­gol­ies’ cam­paign ap­pears to be based on a healthy budget and her polit­ic­al con­nec­tion to former Pres­id­ent Bill Clin­ton, who en­dorsed her cam­paign at a fun­drais­ing event on April 10. 

“It seems as if the Wash­ing­ton D.C. es­tab­lish­ment is sup­port­ing Mrs. Mar­gol­ies in this race, and I think they have it dead wrong,” Boyle said, eli­cit­ing laughter from the small audi­ence. 

Leach, who had been most crit­ic­al of Mar­gol­ies in past de­bates, joined in.

“I’ll de­bate people in the audi­ence if they want,” he said. “Since I made a re­mark earli­er to­night about people who don’t show up and don’t de­bate and don’t an­swer ques­tions, it would be hy­po­crit­ic­al if I didn’t show up to de­bate any­one who was on the bal­lot.”

Though Boyle and Leach found agree­ment on the Mar­gol­ies is­sue, there were mo­ments of ten­sion between the two, who seem to be striv­ing to sep­ar­ate them­selves with­in their shared party.

Leach, a self-pro­claimed “pro­gress­ive cham­pi­on,” used an audi­ence mem­ber’s ques­tion re­gard­ing the can­did­ates’ stances on abor­tion to cri­ti­cize Boyle’s past sup­port of the Tar­geted Reg­u­la­tion of Abor­tion Pro­viders (TRAP) bill, which is un­der­stood by many as a back­door means of pre­vent­ing abor­tion clin­ics from op­er­at­ing by pla­cing need­lessly strict struc­tur­al and staff­ing re­quire­ments on them.

“I figured you would be pre­pared, since it was your cam­paign that asked the ques­tion, but go ahead with your lit­any of at­tacks,” Boyle said in re­sponse to Leach’s cri­ti­cism. “Frankly, I’m not in­ter­ested in hav­ing an­oth­er 50-year war where people run­ning for of­fice use this is­sue for their own polit­ic­al be­ne­fit rather than wo­men’s health.” 

Though most prom­in­ent, this tift between the two Demo­crats was not the only one of the night.

Arkoosh, who was about a half-hour late for the event due to a schedul­ing mis­hap, can­didly re­spon­ded to their dis­agree­ment by sug­gest­ing that petty ar­gu­ments come about when “ca­reer politi­cians get in­volved in these de­cisions.” She cited her own ex­per­i­ence as a phys­i­cian to un­der­line her po­s­i­tion as “an ad­voc­ate for wo­men’s health.”

“Val al­ways men­tions ca­reer politi­cians, which I al­ways find odd be­cause there are no ca­reer politi­cians in this race. Mar­jor­ie served two years, Brendan’s been in five and I was in my 40s be­fore I entered polit­ics,” Leach said. “It’s sort of a weird at­tack.” ••

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