After U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren visited Gloucester yesterday to meet with a group of local fishermen at The Gloucester House, she also stopped by our Times offices here on Whittemore Street for a half-hour interview that largely focused on commercial fishing issues and her challenge to Scott Brown.
Along those same lines, Republican congressional challenger Richard Tisei visited the Times last month. And there's no doubt that Republican incumbent Brown and Democratic Congressman John Tierney will come by later in the campaigns as well.
Historically, all of the candidates in federal and state elections generally pay one or more visits to local newspapers — during election years, especially — to meet with editorial boards and staff writers.
The idea for the candidates, of course, is to get the papers and other media outlets to get their views out to the readers — and, as the elections draw closer, to make their pitch for endorsements. There is also an advantage for the paper or news service — the chance to have one-on-one access to these high-profile candidates so as to ask specific questions, in our case, on locally related issues that don't always make their way into the general debate or into large-scale news conferences.
Six months before the November elections, we've been stepping up our coverage of these important, national profile races. But we haven't — and probably won't for several months — get to the point where we're providing almost daily udpates you see in other media covering the candidates at virtually every turn.
While other papers and TV coverage may provide regular updates on polling numbers and regular campaign stops around the state and the congressional district, we will largely focus our coverage — especially at this stage of the game — on the candidates' stands regarding issues that pertain first to those of us here in Gloucester and across Cape Ann.
That means zeroing in on issues such as the regulation of the commercial fishing industry — as much a jobs and economic issue here as an environmental one; on Environmental Protection Agency requirements regarding clean water and wastewater issues; and, of course, on the economy, especially given that Gloucester's unemployment rates continue to sail along above state and national averages.
Now, given the many other issues play, you may well wonder we would focus our coverage so, well, narrowly. And you may well ask, why would your community's newspaper do that?
Because, first of all, when we speak with these candidates, it really can be the only chance to get these local issues into the campaign dialogue. Commercial fishing and the federal government's shameful, documented overregulation and excessive enforcement has become a larger issue in both of these campaigns — with one of Brown's weekly radio ads squarely targeting NOAA's actions and inaction as cited by the Commerce Inspector General.
But, in general, it's an issue that can take a back seat to health care reform and U.S. overseas military involvement in many circles. That's not the case here — and it won't be the case in our coverage.
We approach these races the way we approach our regular daily news coverage — to bring you the kind of local news and information about our local communities that you really can't get anywhere else. That means focusing the congressional race coverage on issues that are very important to us but may not get covered elsewhere.
As always, let me know what you think.
Questions? Comments? Is there a topic you'd like to see addressed in a future column? Contact Times Editor Ray Lamont at 978-283-7000 x3438, or email@example.com.