Challenge to candidacy is “politics as usual”, Lesser says

LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – State senate candidate Eric Lesser says that an objection to his candidacy that is being brought before the state election commission amounts to a “frivolous legal challenge.”

Springfield City Councilor Tim Allen first raised the issue in late April, questioning whether Lesser meets the Massachusetts Constitution’s residency requirement for legislative candidates. Allen filed a complaint on Friday. Under the law, those seeking office must have lived in Massachusetts for five years prior to the election.

Lesser had worked in Washington from 2009 to 2011 as an aide to David Axelrod, who was President Obama’s chief political advisor at the time. Allen says that departure calls the legality of Lesser’s candidacy into question.

“He lived in Washington. I don’t know about temporarily. He lived in Washington up to June of 2011, which is clearly within the five year period. It is not about where you vote; it’s about where you dwell,” Allen told 22News in April.

But in a statement sent to 22News Monday, Lesser said that in leaving the area to work in the nation’s capital, he did not give up his Massachusetts residency. He says that other candidates have historically been allowed flexibility by the commission when it comes to public service.

“By Mr. Allen’s reasoning, Senator Warren and Governors Weld and Romney all should have been prohibited from running, since all three spent time serving the public outside Massachusetts during the five years prior to returning home to run for office,” Lesser said.

He called the complaint a “distraction,” and an example of “politics as usual.”

“Mr. Allen is apparently worried that he may not succeed with the voters in the court of public opinion, so he has filed this frivolous legal challenge instead,” Lesser said.

Lesser and Allen are two of five Democrats who are running for the 1st Hampden and Hampshire district seat. Aaron Saunders, James “Chip” Harrington, and Thomas Lachuisa are also seeking their party’s nomination for the seat currently held by retiring Sen. Gale Candaras (D-Wilbraham). The winner of September’s primary will face Republican Debra Boronski in the November election.

The district incorporates all of the towns of Belchertown, East Longmeadow, Granby, Hampden, Longmeadow, Ludlow, and Wilbraham, as well as parts of the cities of Chicopee and Springfield.

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