The race to succeed now-Senator Markey in Massachusetts’ fifth congressional district is drawing to a close. Among the Democratic primary field is State Representative Carl Sciortino, who has campaigned as the most liberal in the crowded Democratic field. At just 35 years of age, Representative Sciortino has already been at the statehouse on Beacon Hill for over 9 years, cofounding the body’s Progressive Caucus.
Speaking to the College Democrats of Boston College Wednesday night via video chat, Sciortino highlighted his reasons for ultimately getting involved in politics. During the 2004 election cycle, Sciortino, who is openly gay, approached his state Representative to see where he stood regarding the gay marriage battle raging on Beacon Hill.
Dismissed as “you people” and told that he wasn’t fit for the same rights as a heterosexual man, Sciortino promptly challenged his conservative Democratic state Representative and won a bitterly contested race by just 93 votes.
With the 2013 race building up to primary day this Tuesday, Oct. 15, Representative Sciortino and the other candidates are prepared for a close race. Polling has not shown a clear lead for any of the candidates, and the extremely low turnout that is forecasted is touted by each campaign as a reason to expect the unexpected.
At the College Democrats’ meeting, Sciortino highlighted his first piece of legislation that was signed into law, a bill enacting a buffer zone prohibiting protestors within 35 feet of abortion clinics. The buffer law was designed to protect women entering and exiting clinics from the frequent harassment and intimidation at the hands of demonstrators.
Taking questions from audience members, Sciortino frequently returned to his progressive roots, recently highlighted in a television ad that went viral. With regards to social justice and economic inequality, including “equal rights for, well—everyone,” Sciortino went into a detail heavy response addressing the changes that need to be instituted for all segments of the income scale.
Mentioning student debt as one of the signature issues of his generation, Sciortino praised Senator Elizabeth Warren’s recent proposal to charge students the same interest rate on loans that is given to large banks and corporations, roughly .75%, for the first year. A recent Tufts and Harvard Kennedy school graduate, Sciortino still has student loan debt to pay off.
As Senator Warren was pushing her student debt bill forward, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to gut the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program from the federal budget, a move that showed Sciortino, “the state that our country was really in.”
Promising to not forget his liberal values or constituency if he should emerge victorious next Tuesday, Sciortino reminded the room that it was not the job of congressional Democrats to negotiate with extreme Tea Party Republicans.
In Congress, Sciortino hopes to work with the Progressive Caucus, Florida Congressman Alan Grayson and all members of the Democratic Party’s left flank to push an assault weapons ban, a single payer health care system and federal-recognized gay marriage, among other positions.
Sciortino is hoping to take these aims and progressive values all the way to Washington D.C. “We as a generation have a chance to stand up and be heard,” he said.
Recently married this past Saturday, Sciortino said that it made him extremely proud to have had the ceremony not only recognized by the state and federal government, but also not be a divisive issue in the ongoing race.
Featured image via Carl for Congress.