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WOBURN — A day after House Democratic leadership reportedly confirmed — on condition of anonymity — that coronavirus-related legislation addressing candidate signature deadlines and thresholds “would almost certainly not clear the House,” Massachusetts Republican Chairman Jim Lyons fired back, calling the decree a “disgrace to democracy.”
“Self-protection and one-party rule appears to be the number-one priority for House Speaker Bob DeLeo,” Lyons said. “These publicly elected officials don’t even have the guts to agree to be quoted on the record, because they know they’ll never be held accountable.”
Lyons was referencing Monday’s State House News Service Report, which stated in part:
“I think there were perfect conditions to gather all the signatures early and if you didn’t take advantage of the caucuses or the good weather on Super Tuesday with a high turnout, what were you waiting for?” said one House chairman, who spoke only on the condition that they remain anonymous.
The report later quoted unnamed sources close to DeLeo, who declined to comment, claiming that the House speaker was “caught off guard last week” after Gov. Charlie Baker went on the record in support of lowering candidate requirements due to the current pandemic.
“Speaker DeLeo must have a selective memory,” Lyons said. “He was asked publicly three weeks about this exact issue and said he was considering proposals to lower signature thresholds.
“For three weeks, Speaker DeLeo has ducked the issue entirely. Beacon Hill must have a wonderful witness protection program for Democratic leadership members.”
The SHNS report also quoted Sen. Rules Committee Chairman Joan Lovely (D-Salem), who claimed that lowering the signature threshold for state-level races would somehow amount to “an incumbent protection bill.”
“The mental gymnastics needed to equate lowering the signature threshold with protecting incumbents like Sen. Lovely are breathtaking,” Lyons said. “Entrenched incumbents like Sen. Lovely already have the lists and campaign cash necessary to safely collect the required amount of signatures.
“Challengers do not.”
“I know how quickly things can get done, having served in the legislature for eight years. When Speaker DeLeo wanted to extend his term as speaker, and change the rules to get that done, he did it in a day. He did that to protect his speakership. It seems to me that to protect democracy, we ought to do the same thing.”