May 9, 2012
BOSTON — A North Shore immigration lawyer who has gathered enough signatures to qualify for a primary race against Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren said she's not going away.
Marisa DeFranco said she'll continue campaigning around the state.
"I have been very clear about my jobs plan, about renewable energy, about single-payer health care and the voters should have a choice. I mean, if we don't want to have a primary, let's just forget pretending and go back to the smoke-filled rooms, have the party pick the candidate and that's that," she said.
A band of volunteers — along with a "very, very, very" small number of paid canvassers — collected almost 17,000 signatures, over 11,000 of which have been certified by the state Elections Division. "People have the power but the elected officials in power like the apathy just fine," she said.
DeFranco estimated her war chest at $42,000. It's a pittance compared to Warren's $11 million. But she said the race should be about issues, not money.
One of her signature issues is health insurance. DeFranco called the current system "a monstrosity" that inhibits people who might start their own businesses. When she started her law practice in the 1990s, she paid $150 per month for health insurance. "That was affordable and hey, I could start my practice and entrepreneurs could go out there and strike out on their own. Totally impossible today," she said.
Rather, she's advocating for a single-payer system, which, DeFranco said, "contrary to the myth, is not a government-run program. It is funded through our tax base and through the government, basically like Medicare."
She added, "Look, none of us wants anybody controlling any factor of our lives. But if you have a choice between the private sector and the government having some kind of role in health care, I'm going to chose the government because in government at least you can vote the jerks out."
As for the recent kerfuffle over Warren's Native American heritage or lack thereof, DeFranco thought her challenger should simply give a straight answer. And as a fellow woman lawyer, she said, "I know what it's like. You use every tool you possibly can to make sure that you're noticed … and if you put something out there that you truly believe in, that's a plus in your column, then say you did and stand by it."
DeFranco's spot on the ballot isn't guaranteed. She still must receive at least 15 percent of the delegate vote during the state Democratic convention on June 2 in Springfield.
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DEFRANCO ON GREATER BOSTON