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Romney Endorses Marasco!   NORTH ANDOVER - Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney says he is investing time, resources, and political capital to make sure the 18th Essex District gets a new State Representative.  

The 18th Essex District is comprised of precincts in Andover, North Andover, Methuen, Haverhill, Georgetown and Boxford.   Romney visited the family home of North Andover Selectman Jim Xenakis for a $150 per person fund raiser that swelled Marasco’s coffers by nearly $10,000 just days after the September primary.  

The seat is currently held by Andover Democrat, Barbara L’Italien who is widely considered one of the most vulnerable incumbent Representatives in the state.   L’Italien’s adamant support for gay marriage and her opposition to Governor Romney’s budget reforms prom-pted Andover resident Maria Marasco to mount one of the most serious Republican challenges in the state.  

L’Italien voted against an amendment to put the issue on the ballot and said she thinks gay marriage is a “right”. Last spring, Representative L’Italien was quoted in The Eagle-Tribune, saying that she expected the gay marriage issue would probably cause her defeat in November.  

Not surprisingly, Marasco wasted no time addressing gay marriage saying, “In matters of such monumental social importance, the voters have the sole right to decide. They should be able to vote up or down as provided by our state constitution.”  

Marasco is personally opposed to changing the traditional definition of marriage and believes it is the optimum structure for raising strong families.   But Romney, who supports marriage as “between one man and one woman,” didn’t address the issue at the Xenakis fund-raiser.  

“I need help at the State House,” Romney told the crowd of about a hundred people. “I need people like Maria to help me reform state government. I can’t do it alone.”  

“You know I proposed giving free scholarships to students who scored in the top 25% on their MCAS exams,” he continued. “The Democrats didn’t want that. They wanted to give illegal aliens in-state tuition rates. Whether it is education reform, reforming the state budget, or reforming the Turnpike Authority, without the help of legislators like Maria, Massachusetts will be stuck with business as us-ual, taxing and spending on Beacon Hill. That’s why we need to get people like Maria elected!”  

Marasco expanded on Romney’s com-ments. “I support merging the Mass. Turnpike Authority with Mass Highway to save $20 million annually. The funds we save can be used to improve our schools and increase local aid. The taxpayers’ money will serve our Commonwealth much better in those areas than it would supporting the duplication of services and the endless patronage jobs of Beacon Hill insiders,” she said.  

A businesswoman and lawyer, Marasco was appointed to help reform government by three previous governors of both parties. She says her business talents helped her effectively manage several state agencies. She served as one of the youngest Executive Directors in state government.  

During the '90s, Marasco says she worked to reform reporting systems at the pension fund, developed plans to reduce govern-ment backlogs, and helped all Executive agencies cut regulations and comply with the 1996 Regulation Reform Project. She currently runs a nonprofit breast cancer early detection center.   While she enjoyed the support and endorsement of Governor Romney, she also pulled in big name support from Andover Selectmen Alex Vispoli and Brian Major, North Andover Selectmen Jim Xenakis and Wendy Wakeman, Haverhill Licensing Board Member Joe Edwards, Former Methuen State Representative Larry Giordano, former Methuen police officer Bill Rayno, and a variety of local activists in the district.  

Democrats Frantically Circle the Wagons for Barbara L’Italien  

While Marasco campaigns with big names like Governor Romney, Lt. Governor Healey and former Environmental Secretary Christie Todd Whitman, L’Italien is shoring up support among labor unions, colleagues and local incumbent Democrats.  

Just days before Romney’s fund raiser, Lawrence State Rep. Willie Lantigua (who calls himself an “Independent Democrat”) held his own fund raiser at the Lawrence British Club. But instead of using his event as an opportunity to rally supporters to help him defeat former Representative Jose Santiago, Lantigua called Barbara L’Italien up to the front of the room in a desperate sounding plea for his colleague.  

“I am here tonight to ask you all a personal favor,” Lantigua  told the crowd. “I don’t need the help as much as my good friend Representative L’Italien. So, whatever you were going to do for me, holding a sign, calling friends, whatever you were going to do - I am asking as a personal favor that you give that help to Barbara. She has been a great help to me at the State House.”  

Lantigua shares a great deal in common with L’Italien, as they both opposed English Immersion, supported House Speaker Finneran's budget overrides (Finneran recently appeared at a Lantigua fund raising event) and both voted against rolling back the state income tax to 5% (after voters passed the roll-back referendum on a statewide ballot initiative in 2002).  

Oddly enough, having the support of a widely popular Lawrence State Representative like Lantigua may not be enough to help L’Italien since Lawrence is not in the 18th Essex District. L’Italien also held a fundraiser at the Lawrence British Club where she complained that Republicans have “targeted” her for defeat and vowed to fight on until November.  

Sources close to the L’Italien campaign say she is “very nervous” about Marasco's candidacy and that the first term incumbent is pulling out all the stops and campaigning “very hard”.   L'Italien has been actively campaigning in her district with North Andover State Representative David Torissi (a Democrat) and has been asked to speak to the North Andover Senior Center this month. (Please see editorial).

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