Just Who’s Targeting Shaunna O’Connell for Defeat?

State Representative Shaunna O’Connell of the Third Bristol District, which includes parts of Taunton and Easton, would like us to know that she is the “number one Republican targeted for defeat in this year’s election.”

Now in her 3rd term in the House, O’Connell has made a name for herself by insisting at every opportunity that the state’s number one task is to drive out the fraud that is being perpetrated within the welfare program by immigrants and other neer-do-wells. Because of her tireless advocacy on this single subject, she has been named the leader of the “Torch & Pitchfork Caucus” on the pages of this blog.

In a recent fund-raising email (available here) O’Connell informs us that Super PAC’s have flooded her district with tens of thousands of dollars to try to defeat her. Her opponent this year, she says, is the “Democrats’ hand-picked candidate” and “a political operative who has worked for Senator Markey and Organize America–the Obama ‘community activist’ group.”

If you are wondering who this Democratic political operative might be, you’re not alone. The Secretary of State’s office reports that the two candidates will be on the ballot for the Third Bristol seat this year are O’Connell and a Taunton native named Keavin Duffy, Jr., who is not enrolled in either the Democratic or the Republican party and is running as an Independent.

Maybe the Democrats have made a diabolically clever move in picking an Independent as their man in the Third Bristol race. Or maybe O’Connell just wanted to work “Obama,” “Markey” and “community activist” into her fund-raising pitch. Or maybe it’s not the just Democratic party that’s causing problems for O’Connell. Some Republicans seem not too fond of her, either. Last year, she was ousted by Republican leadership from membership on the House Ways and Means Committee, a perch from which she was able to amplify her welfare grumblings. And last week, her rally to demand progress on a welfare reform bill that has been in conference committee negotiations for several months was rather pointedly ignored by the House GOP member of that conference committee. Representative Kimberly Ferguson told reporters that the invitation O’Connell sent out for her rally had the wrong date, and (in case that message was insufficiently clear) she added that she would not have come anyway.


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