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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cambodian king makes first Japan visit

TOKYO — Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni arrived in Tokyo Sunday for his first state visit to Japan, where he will meet the Japanese royals and the prime minister.

Sihamoni will meet Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Monday at the start of his five-day visit, Cambodian foreign ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told AFP.

"The state visit by the king to Japan will strengthen the relationship and cooperation between the two countries," he said.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama will hold talks with Sihamoni on Tuesday. Read more!

Even in liberal-leaning Mass., GOP eyes US House

The Associated Press

(AP) — BOSTON - Four months after Republican Scott Brown won the U.S. Senate seat held for half a century by the late Edward Kennedy, liberal-leaning Massachusetts is rife with Republican candidates hoping to flip even more Democratic seats into GOP hands.

With all 10 congressional offices now occupied by Democrats, Republicans are confident one or two are ripe for the picking.

Topping the list is the 10th Congressional District seat held by Democrat William Delahunt, who won't be seeking re-election. The district, which includes Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, handed Brown 61 percent of its vote in January.

State Rep. Jeffrey Perry is one of several GOP candidates hoping to appeal to that base. Like Brown, who endorsed him, the Sandwich Republican is counting in part on the backing of Tea Party activists.

"The people who have been supporting me as a state representative for the most part are the same people who are involved with the Tea Party," said Perry, who has pushed legislation he said would make it harder for illegal immigrants to obtain public benefits.

Perry faces a crowded GOP primary that includes former state Treasurer Joseph Malone.

Malone, who has the backing of former GOP governors William Weld, Paul Cellucci and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said voter anger about the economy could boost Republicans in Massachusetts, which last elected a GOP member to a U.S. House in 1994.

"It's a one party system at the state level. It's a one party system at the federal level and it's harming people," Malone said. "People see the American Dream slipping away."

A third Republican candidate, Cohasset public accountant Ray Kasperowicz also said fiscal worries, as opposed to social issues like abortion or gay marriage, were driving voters.

"People are really upset about the financial burden Washington is putting on future generations," he said.

Two Democrats, Norfolk District Attorney William Keating and state Sen. Robert O'Leary, are also running.

Another closely watched race is in the state's 5th Congressional District, where Niki Tsongas is running for her second full term after winning a special election in 2007 and running unopposed in 2008.

Four Republicans say they've collected the 2,000 signatures needed to get on the primary ballot, including Jon Golnick, a reseller of Boston College merchandise. The Carlisle father of two said he jumped into the race because Democrats like Tsongas have failed on the economy.

"We wasted 12 months on health care when we should have been focusing on creating private sector jobs," Golnick said.

Robert Shapiro, a former math teacher and software engineer, said Kennedy's death robbed Massachusetts Democrats like Tsongas of their mystique.

"She's following along with the party line," he said. "Whatever (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi puts on her desk, she goes along with."

Two other candidates-Sam Meas, a research analyst from Haverhill, and Tom Weaver, a small business owner from Westford-are also in the running.

Meas, who came to the country as an orphan from Cambodia in 1986, faulted Tsongas for not reducing unemployment.

"The people in my district, they need jobs, jobs, jobs," Meas said.

For Weaver, the top concern is the effect the national debt will have on Americans like his youngest son.

"I wonder what type of freedom he's going to have if we don't correct the course we're on," Weaver said.

Tsongas' campaign manager Nick Clemons said Republicans shouldn't underestimate the Lowell Democrat. He said Tsongas has been coming back to the district every weekend to meet with voters.

"What she's hearing is that people are hurting," Clemons said. "That's why she's focused on job creation."

Tsongas has donated her last few pay increases to charity and sponsored legislation for lightweight body armor for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Clemons said.

Tsongas also has a fundraising edge. She had $380,660 in her campaign account at the end of March compared to $133,396 for Golnick, who loaned his campaign more than $100,000, and $1,898 for Shapiro. Meas showed a negative balance of more than $6,000 and there was no filing for Weaver.

The National Republican party is keep an eye on both races.

Perry and Golnick are on the radar of the Republican National Congressional Committee's "Young Guns" recruiting program-although the committee has yet to promise funds.

Committee spokesman Tory Mazzola said Brown's victory showed Republicans can win even in Massachusetts.

"It's still an uphill climb. but in this environment, no Democrat is safe," said Mazzola.

State Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh said Massachusetts is no rush to bolster GOP ranks in Washington.

"The forces of 'do nothing' and 'no' in Washington are looking for reinforcements and I don't think the voters of Massachusetts are interested in sending in more," he said.

Nearly every other Democrat incumbent, with the possible exception of U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, are also facing possible Republican challengers.

Sean Bielat, a former Marine Corps lieutenant from Brookline, and Earl Sholley, a former landscape company owner from Norfolk are hoping to oust U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and a favorite GOP target.

In western Massachusetts, U.S. Rep. John Olver is being challenged by William Gunn of Ware while U.S. Rep. Richard Neal could face either former U.S. Navy pilot Tom Wesley from Hopedale or Jay Fleitman, a doctor of internal medicine from Northampton.

Hopkinton Board of Selectmen Chairman Brian Herr and Holliston lawyer Marty Lamb are competing to take on U.S. Rep. James McGovern while Saugus attorney Rob McCarthy and Boxford attorney Bill Hudak are trying to dislodge U.S. Rep. John Tierney.

Business analyst and combat photojournalist Keith Lepor of Boston's Roslindale neighborhood and Braintree small business owner Vernon Harrison are eyeing incumbent U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch while Woburn doctor Gerry Dembrowski is hoping to oust longtime U.S. Rep. Edward Markey.
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