O'Reilly Debates Kerry for Senator

Sep 5, 2008 5:59 PM. All work by , , ,

BOSTON—John Kerry faced his first Democratic challenger for state senator this morning in a closed debate at WBZ headquarters.

Kerry's opposition is first-time candidate Edward O'Reilly, a defense attorney who joined the race to combat Kerry's position on the Iraq war. O'Reilly became Kerry's first in-house opponent in his 24 years as a Massachusetts senator — a challenge that, according to O'Reilly, Kerry has yet to take seriously.

"Democracy is not a spectator sport, it's a participatory sport... John Kerry is avoiding that," said O'Reilly after the debate. "[Kerry] would not have any debates... I sent two letters to him and he wouldn't respond to them — not at all."

That statement was refuted by Kerry's campaign manager, Roger Lau, who organized a roadside rally outside of the WBZ headquarters that morning. "We're debating today," responded Lau, "and it's only because we reached out to them, and we called and called and called, and we got it together." Lau said that the Kerry campaign was not avoiding O'Reilly and added that rumors of Kerry refusing to hold a primary debate were untrue.
In contrast to Lau's claims, some of Kerry's supporters outside the WBZ headquarters did not view O'Reilly as a legitimate threat to Kerry's reelection.

"Ed O'Reilly is a fucking joke," said Rhick Bose, a Boston College student and intern with the Kerry campaign. "He has like, 15 percent, 17 percent [of the vote]," continued Bose, "he's not a viable candidate."

Bose and two of his B.C. colleagues were among the estimated 165 people who showed up to support Kerry, some of whom skipped work or class to attend the event. Grossly outnumbered were O'Reilly's six supporters who showed up despite O'Reilly's requests otherwise. The 30 minute debate was closed to all members of the public, and only available live to reporters on closed circuit television. The debate will be broadcast at 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning on WBZ-TV.

"My supporters are working; it's a weekday," remarked O'Reilly. "It's basically a photo opportunity for Senator Kerry... and maybe to feed his ego, I'm not sure."

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