Incumbent State Rep. Atsalis gets first serious challenger in a decade
Attorney Mannal continues his challenge, Internet may undo Rep. Atsalis
By Walter Brooks
In a county which seldom mounts serious challenges to incumbents, Centerville attorney Brian Mannal may be a game changer.
And he picked a longtime incumbent for his challenge. Demetrius Atsalis has been the Mid Cape's State Representative since 1998.
It's called the 2nd. Barnstable District and includes Barnstable Precincts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 13, and Yarmouth Precincts 5 and 6.
Mannal is also capable of irony, a rarity in local pols.
He used the then-raging anger over the Trayvon Martin killing in April to criticize his opponent saying "Every so often, politicians get something right… The proposed 'stand your ground' bill co-sponsored by State Rep. Demetrius Atsalis is not one of those times."
Mannal is also a good counter-puncher when a few weeks later Atsalis told voters that Mannal had worked for then Texas Governor George Bush by accusing Atsalis of ethics violations.
At that time Mannal said he has never denied working on Bush’s initial campaign or being a registered Republican until 2004, and claims his own campaign website clarifies that he changed political parties because of his support for gay and lesbian civil rights and his opposition to the Republican-backed Defense of Marriage Act that is law in Ohio.
The web may be Atsalis' undoing
The internet is forever, and it continues to haunt the incumbent.
In April Mannal used it to bring back old ethics charges, and recently a more inflammatory YouTube surfaced which had Atsalis threatening a food pantry.
GOPer vs. DINO?
The final irony may be that both these men may be running in the wrong primary on September 6.
Since Brian Mannal admits he was once a registered Republican and Demetrius Atsalis is known locally as a "DINO" which is short for "Democrat in Name Only," wouldn't a race in the Republican primary be more appropriate?
However, the 2nd. Barnstable District has 7 percent more Democrats than Republicans, and over half the registered voters are Independents, which may explain these candidates preference for which primary to run in, especially since there is no Republican in the race and the Democratic primary winner will be the next State Rep. from the 2nd. Barnstable.
The complete text of Mannal's letter is below:
Hyannis lawyer Brian Mannal has challenged incumbent State Rep. Demetrius Atsalis to a series of debates leading up to the Democratic primary election on Thursday, September 6, 2012.
In a certified letter to Atsalis dated May 23, Mannal expressed his belief that it is important for the Democratic Party candidates for State Representative in the 2nd Barnstable District to hold a series of debates in the upcoming months, so that registered Democrats and un-enrolled (i.e., independent) voters in the towns of Barnstable and Yarmouth can make an educated decision as to which candidate they prefer to support in the upcoming primary. Mannal has proposed the Cape and Islands Democratic Council and local newspapers and/or radio stations sponsor the debates. To date, Atsalis has not responded to Mannal’s challenge.
Attorney Brian Mannal and State Rep. Demetrius Atsalis were the only two individuals to file nomination papers with the Elections Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth on or before the May 29 deadline for doing so. Accordingly, the winner of the Democratic primary election for State Representative in the 2nd Barnstable District will be unopposed in the general election this November.
“I am hopeful that Mr. Atsalis will agree to debate me,” said Mannal. “I believe that a series of debates will help voters understand where each of us stands on various issues, as well as the Liberal-Democratic principles we hold in common.”