Guest columnist Matt Barron: Rep. Blais needs a 2022 primary opponent

Thursday, July 22, 2021

When a legislator repeatedly sells out their constituents to vote with the speaker of the House that is a big problem. Such is the case with state Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland.

Two weeks ago, as the House finally debated and voted on its rules for the session, the sophomore solon opposed all amendments aimed at bringing greater transparency and accountability to the work often referred to as the “people’s business.” Blais said no to allowing us to see how she and her colleagues vote in committees (where the majority of the action occurs) and to ensure that members and the public had 48 hours to read bills before a vote.

Blais cast these votes despite the overwhelming sentiment of residents in her 1st Franklin District that she not continue to perpetuate the secret and opaque government on Beacon Hill. Last November, voters approved Question 4, that asked “Shall the representative for this district be instructed to vote in favor of changes to the applicable House of Representative rules to make the results of all the votes in that body’s Legislative committees publicly available on the Legislature’s website?” The ballot question passed in all of the district’s 19 towns with 89% districtwide. Over the winter and spring, some 400 constituents petitioned Blais to support House rules reform and dozens more contacted her in the days leading up to the July 7 votes on the House rules package. None of the arguments put forth by Blais as to why she can’t support these rules changes hold even a drop of water.

But all of that was for naught because Blais has decided that it is more important for her to do what Speaker Ron Mariano of Quincy tells her to do than what those of us who elected her instruct her to do. So much for that quaint concept of representative democracy. In fact, Blais votes the way the speaker does about 99% of the time. She doesn’t even have to think of how a particular bill or amendment will affect her district. All she has to do is look up at the tote board in the House chamber. When the light next to Speaker Mariano’s name is green, Blais votes yes, when the light is red, she votes no. Easy peasy.

In 2018, I was all in on her candidacy. I put one of her signs out on my lawn, wrote her a $250 campaign contribution and penned a letter to the editor explaining why I thought she would be the best of the bunch seeking the open seat. But now I believe that Blais needs a Democratic primary opponent next year and word across her district is that folks are so upset at her for helping to kill these common sense and badly needed rules reforms that they are now working to make that happen.

Matt L. Barron lives in Chesterfield.