Monday, November 06
The candidates for state Senate received a flurry of endorsements in the last full week of the campaign, pushing for any advantage as they head into tomorrow's election.

Democrat Benjamin B. Downing of Pittsfield received the support of outgoing state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. as well as endorsements from the county's entire delegation to the House of Representative and its two mayors.

And Republican Matthew W. Kinnaman got a rare promise of a seat on the influential Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

Downing, Kinnaman and Green-Rainbow candidate Dion C. Robbins-Zust are competing to fill Nuciforo's seat; the senator is stepping aside after 10 years in office to run for Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds. He is unchallenged in that race.

Kinnaman appeared in Pittsfield on Thursday with state Sen. Richard Tisei, R-Wakefield, who will be the Senate minority leader in the new term.

Tisei promised Kinnaman a seat on Ways and Means, the most coveted appointment on Beacon Hill — and one that would include a position on the conference committee, in which the House and Senate work out their differences on spending.

"It's the most powerful and influential committee in the Legislature," Tisei said. "It's a little unprecedented that a freshman (senator) be appointed to Ways and Means, but we all feel that Matt brings the life experience that is important to the Legislature and to this committee."

Tisei was joined by Republican state Sens. Bruce Tarr of Gloucester and Mike Knapik of Westfield, and former state Sen. Peter Webber of Pittsfield, who filled the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin seat from 1980 to 1990.

"I want the people of the Berkshires to know how important it is to have Matt represent them on Ways and Means," Webber said. "I strongly encourage the people in this district to vote for Matt Kinnaman and restore the tradition of independent representation for Western Massachusetts."

Earlier in the campaign, Downing received the endorsement of Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, the chairwoman of Senate Ways and Means, who said Downing would work well with the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Last week, he picked up more individual endorsements from Democrats: Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto praised his "energy and ability," while Nuciforo said Downing "understands economic development, public education, the environment and elder services" in the district.

On Friday, Downing received the endorsement of Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless and Pittsfield Police Chief Anthony Riello.

'All the right reasons'

On Thursday, North Adams Mayor John Barrett III officially endorsed Downing and said that the Democratic nominee was entering politics "for all the right reasons."

"I'm not (endorsing him) because he's a Democrat. He wants to make lives better," Barrett said. "He's not using politics as a stepping stone."

In the primary, Barrett endorsed one of Downing's opponents, former state Rep. Christopher J. Hodgkins of Lee. On Thursday, Barrett said Hodgkins is a longtime friend, but his full support is now behind Downing.

"Ben will do us proud," Barrett said. "I haven't been this excited about an election in a long time."

Downing thanked the mayor and added a little praise of his own. "If every town had a mayor as dedicated, our commonwealth would be far better off."

Later that day, state Reps. Daniel E. Bosley of North Adams, Christopher N. Speranzo of Pittsfield, Denis Guyer of Dalton and William "Smitty" Pignatelli of Lenox made a joint appearance to endorse Downing.

"The delegation wanted to really put out there publicly that we think Ben can best fulfill in the Senate what we do in the House," Speranzo said. "Ben Downing understands that the cost of rolling back income taxes is rising property taxes, and he has made a consistent, strong stance on that."

The polls open tomorrow at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.