Senate seat rivals take their beef to House
By State House News Service | Friday, October 12, 2007 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Local Politics
Two state representatives vying for the same state Senate seat took their rivalry to the House floor yesterday and one allegedly grabbed the other in a dust-up over campaign tactics.
The afternoon scuffle in the back of the chamber between Reps. Charles Murphy (D-Burlington) and Patrick Natale (D-Woburn) disrupted the usually staid House proceedings.
Eyewitnesses differed over the aggressor in the confrontation but agreed that, at one point, Murphy grabbed Natale’s hand. Calls to the homes of Murphy and Natale were not returned last night.
House sources said Murphy was angered by what he said was Natale’s distortion of a campaign poll. A spokesman for Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, who conferred near the rostrum with Murphy after the incident, declined to comment.
Two other Democrats, Rep. James Marzilli and firefighter union official Ken Donnelly, are running in the Tuesday, Nov. 13, primary.
Murphy said in an interview after the confrontation that he approached Natale in the back of the chamber to talk to him about the race. But the conversation deteriorated, Murphy said, and Natale began accusing him of “saying things about him.” He said Natale employed a four-letter word or two and poked his finger at him.
Murphy, who served in the US Marines, said that he asked Natale “not to poke at me” and that at one point he pushed Natale’s hand away. But that was the extent of any physical contact during the exchange, Murphy said.
“It wasn’t a fight; it’s not like we threw down,” he said, adding that the episode lasted perhaps 28 seconds. “It was a discussion about an ongoing state Senate race, and we had a disagreement.”
But one witness said Murphy had grabbed Natale’s finger and bent it. A colleague moved in, admonishing them for scuffling in the House chamber, the witness said.
They separated but continued to throw epithets at each across several rows of desks, until a colleague took Murphy outside and advised him to cool off, the witness said.
Fight over a campaign poll? Hey, that would be great fun on BMG! What are the numbers?