Both candidates for the 4th Congressional District are military veterans.
Democrat Jake Auchincloss, 32, served as a captain in the Marine Corps in a war zone. Republican Julie Hall, 62, is a retired Air Force colonel who headed up medical facilities.
Both have served on their respective city councils, Auchincloss in Newton and Hall in Attleboro. Both are parents.
And that may be where the similarities end.
Auchincloss is of the millennial generation, a grandchild of The Greatest Generation, and Hall is a baby boomer, a child of The Greatest Generation, the generation that fought and won World War II and then rebuilt the nation.
As far as politics goes, Auchincloss veers left; Hall veers right.
But before we go there, here’s a little more about each, drawn from their website biographies.
Auchincloss served in Afghanistan in areas where the Taliban sought control. He also served in Panama and helped train Panamanian officials in drug-interdiction tactics.
Auchincloss is a Harvard University graduate who also earned a master’s degree in business administration from MIT Sloan.
According to his website, since leaving the Marines, he’s worked at “a cyber security startup that protected small businesses from online threats, and as a senior manager at Liberty Mutual’s innovation lab.”
“At Liberty Mutual (he) helped orient the Fortune 100 company towards risk solutions for a greener transportation system, in which transit, walking, and cycling are viable options to cars.”
Hall enlisted in 1978 and started her military career at the bottom as an “airman basic.” She worked her way up to the rank of colonel, serving for more than 30 years.
At the time of enlistment, she had an associate’s degree in human resources from Massasoit Community College in Brockton.
While in the military, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maryland.
Later, she earned a master’s in healthcare administration from Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis.
In the Air Force, her roles included “the chief operating officer for small medical clinics, large medical centers, and ... senior healthcare executive of a multi-facility healthcare system in the Washington, D.C. area,” according to her website.
In civilian life, Hall has worked locally as chief compliance officer for Nova Farms LLC, a marijuana retailer, and as an operations manager at LBP Solutions LLC, an environmental consulting company.
Each grew up in different circumstances, as indicated by their website biographies.
Both of Auchincloss’ parents have worked in high-profile positions.
“Jake’s mother, Laurie Glimcher, is the first female CEO of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute,” his website states. “His father, Hugh Auchincloss, is Dr. (Anthony) Tony Fauci’s top deputy.”
Fauci, of course, if lesser known before, has made a name for himself this year working in President Donald Trump’s administration to help stem the spread of coronavirus.
Auchincloss’ parents have donated tens of thousands of dollars to a political action committee known as Experienced Leadership Matters, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Also according to the Federal Election Commission, Auchincloss raised about $1.7 million during the primary, in which he edged out Jesse Mermell, one of six opponents.
Hall, according to her website, was one of seven children, and she “learned the importance of hard work and personal responsibility watching both her parents work long hours.”
“Never considering government assistance as an option, Julie’s father worked two jobs to provide for their family and her mother worked the 3rd shift, arriving home just in time to get the kids off to school,” her website said.
According to the FEC, she raised about $45,000 for the Republican primary, in which she decisively beat David Rosa of Dighton.
Hall is facing a daunting task in trying to capture the 4th District congressional seat vacated by Joseph Kennedy III, who tried unsuccessfully to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, a fellow Democrat.
The district hasn’t been represented by a Republican since 1997 when Peter Blute finished the second of his two terms.
Since then it’s been Democrats for 24 years.
Rep. Jim McGovern served for eight terms and Kennedy for four.
And then there are the numbers.
About 28 percent of the district’s voters are registered Democrats and only about 11 percent are registered Republicans.
However, roughly 60 percent are “unenrolled,” meaning they don’t declare a party affiliation.
Those are the voters Auchincloss and Hall will be fighting for, and there will be a lot of them.
Presidential years typically bring at least 70 percent of all voters to the polls in Massachusetts.
In 2016, 74 percent turned out; in 2012, 73 percent.
This year, judging by the primary, the turnout could be higher because of mail-in ballots and the presidential contest between incumbent Republican Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Mail-in ballots and the hot race between Markey and Kennedy drove a record 1.7 million voters to the polls for last month’s primary, a 36 percent turnout.
And if history is a predictor, most unenrolled will go Democrat, but no one really knows until ballots are cast.
What is known is that there is a distinct choice to be made.
For those who don’t want to read this whole story, although you should, here’s a quick summary of the candidates’ positions on some key issues.
Green New Deal
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett
Hall: No more
Both candidates submitted written answers to a number of questions from The Sun Chronicle.
Neither was tepid in their responses.
Auchincloss, who beat out a field of mostly progressive candidates for the Democratic nomination for Congress, has been described by some as a “moderate” compared to his opponents.
But he described himself as a “pragmatic progressive” shortly after the primary.
When asked to define “pragmatic progressive” in a Sun Chronicle questionnaire, he declined. He did, however, make his opinion of President Trump clear, if it wasn’t already.
“Labels are less important than how I’ll approach the job,” he said. “I will bring people together to solve problems. I will stand with scientists — not Trump’s deadly lies — when it comes to battling COVID-19. I will fight climate change and help us transition to a clean energy future, not backpedal into climate denial. And I will be on the front lines protecting a woman’s right to choose. We cannot allow Trump and his allies to put women’s healthcare at risk.”
But, as far as Hall is concerned, pragmatic or not, a progressive is a progressive, and, in her opinion, that’s not good for the country.
“There is nothing pragmatic about progressivism,” she said.
“My opponent is a radical progressive marching toward socialism, as is his party in Washington, D.C. He also supports one of the most radical socialist programs ever proposed in the United States Congress — the Green New Deal. It takes the concerns of goodhearted people who care about our environment and pushes initiatives that will destroy our freedoms, prosperity, and way of life.”
Meanwhile, Auchincloss describes Hall as a “Trump Republican.”
“My opponent has been vocal in supporting Trump’s disastrous handling of the pandemic,” he said. “She has echoed his climate change denial, which is a slap in the face to our fishing community on the South Coast and our agricultural industry across the district, not to mention future generations. On both fronts, she and Trump ignore science, which puts our safety and our economy in jeopardy.”
And the lambasting continued.
“She is also supporting Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, who would eviscerate protections for a woman’s right to choose. And I have to say, as a veteran myself, I respect her military service, but I am disturbed by her defense of Trump’s attacks on our veterans and our military.”
Auchincloss has endorsed U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s and Markey’s Green New Deal, which seeks to eliminate fossils fuels.
He believes the world is in imminent danger from climate change and fast action is needed. Tomorrow could be too late.
“We (Democrats) believe that climate change is real, and we need to transition to a clean energy economy now,” he said.
Part of his vision is to tax carbon emissions, also known as “carbon pricing,” to encourage the development alternative energy sources that produce less carbon or none at all.
Hall has made it clear she’s not in favor of more taxes and has a different take overall.
She struck back against carbon taxes in a Facebook post:
“Radical Progressive Jake Auchincloss calls it climate change — I call it TAX INCREASES. No matter how much he wants to double our energy bills, it won’t change the weather.”
While a supporter of Trump, Hall said she is her own person.
“I am a Julie Hall Republican — a conservative,” she said in response to the “Trump Republican” tag.
“My goal is to defend our freedoms from government overreach and make our district more prosperous with lower taxes and less burdensome regulations. I stand with our police to ensure law and order and to keep our communities safe.”
Auchincloss’ blast at Hall regarding Trump’s “attack on our veterans and military” refers to a story in The Atlantic magazine about negative comments Trump allegedly made about veterans during an overseas trip.
However, no one went on the record to back the allegations and many went on the record to deny it.
The truth of the matter seems to depend on the party with which one sides.
While Auchincloss lambasted Hall for “echoing climate change denial,” Hall made it clear she’s in favor of developing alternative energy sources as a way to make the earth cleaner, whether the climate is changing or not.
On her website, she endorses efforts to create green energy, including hydro, solar and wind power.
She said those sources of energy will enhance the nation’s energy independence, until such time as they can actually replace fossil fuels.
“We have a golden opportunity to take advantage of emerging technologies that will strengthen our energy independence,” she said on her website.
Under Trump, the nation became energy independent after decades of depending on Mideast oil, she said.
Meanwhile, Democrats argue that opening new oil fields puts the environment in danger.
For Hall, being energy independent allows the nation to focus its resources on developing new sources of energy.
“We worked hard and changed (energy dependence) over the past few years,” Hall said. “Now we can take that same spirit and over time reduce our dependence on oil altogether, but market forces must drive that change.”
Market forces are already at play with the development of electric cars, solar power panels on homes and businesses and windmills emerging on the horizon.
Auchincloss also hit Hall for her endorsement of “Trump’s values,” which he labeled “antithetical” to the nation’s values.
Hall dismissed the criticism.
“It’s the same old tune he’s been whistling since he started running,” Hall said. “He’s running against the caricature of Trump created by the Democratic Party and their cheerleaders in the media. He’s not running to represent the hard working people in the 4th Congressional District like I am.
“I stand for conservative values — limited government, a strong national defense, equal opportunity under the law, and free enterprise. Last time I checked, those are American values enshrined in our Constitution. Every time he calls my values antithetical to the nation’s values, he’s insulting America and rejecting the founding principles of our nation.”
Hall asserted not one of the seven Democratic candidates who ran in the primary, including Auchincloss, is “fit to serve in Congress.”
She was referring to what she sees as a lack of support for police and law and order.
“Not one of the Democrat candidates denounced the violence nationwide or the destruction of property in Massachusetts during the recent protests,” Hall said.
“In fact, my opponent fully embraced the Minneapolis policy of defunding and dismantling their police department calling it ‘exciting’ and a hallmark policy that cities and towns throughout the country should adopt. I denounced that policy then as dangerous and irresponsible ...”
For his part, Auchincloss dismissed the comments and accused Hall of trying to instill fear in people, something he said characterizes Trump.
“My opponent is mimicking Trump’s fearmongering,” he said. “I will be a member of Congress who brings people together, not drives them apart, to solve the problems that face the families of the Fourth District.”
Meanwhile, Hall is against abortion.
Adoption is good alternative, she said.
“I’m pro-life,” she said. “It’s human life and deserves to come out to do wonderful things for the world.”
Hall said she supports the nomination of Barrett for the Supreme Court, but not because of a single highly controversial issue like abortion, but because she is “highly qualified and highly competent.”
Trump has the right to nominate and the Senate has the right to confirm or not, Hall said.
But Auchincloss believes that Barrett would vote to “eviscerate a woman’s right to choose.”
In the eyes of pro-choice people, Roe v. Wade is at stake.
Each candidate was asked about what they hope to do for the district and the Attleboro area specifically.
For Auchincloss, the first priority is defeating the pandemic.
“First, we need to overcome COVID-19 by supporting science-based policies: mask requirements, physical distancing, contact-tracing, testing, and, ultimately, vaccine development and distribution,” he said.
“That’s how we get kids back to school and the economy back in action, safely.”
And he repeated some of his overall goals.
“I want this district to be on the leading edge of building back better: fighting climate change as we transition to a clean-energy economy, protecting Social Security and Medicare for our seniors, and working towards racial justice.”
As for the area, transit and jobs are on the list.
“The Sun Chronicle region in particular would benefit from improved transportation infrastructure and the recruitment of life-sciences manufacturing, a growth industry with high-paying jobs, to the region,” he said. “These two initiatives would help us fight climate change and transition to a clean-energy economy with good jobs.”
Hall said she will focus on the people’s needs for the entire district, which includes jobs.
“Constituent services will be paramount, and I will continue to foster collegial working relations with people, agencies and groups that will help move our district forward,” she said. “I will focus heavily on recruiting the companies of today and the opportunities of tomorrow to do business in our district.”
The Sun Chronicle area has unique needs, she said.
“This is an area with a large group of working-class families who struggle to get ahead and work very hard to make life better for their children,” Hall said. “They are directly and negatively impacted by any tax increases.”
She said her work on the Attleboro City Council has given her insight into how the local, state and federal governments work together, and growing up as a member of the working class will be a benefit as well.
“I will use this experience and knowledge as well as my 30 years of military experience in business operations and leadership, to ensure that the working families of this district and the communities they built are served well,” Hall said.