Rep. Barbara L'Italien, D-Andover, will face off against Republican challenger and former Georgetown Selectman Lawrence "Lonnie" Brennan on Nov. 4 in a rematch of their 2006 state representative race.
Brennan and L'Italien are fighting for the hearts and minds of the 18th Essex District, a piece of political turf that includes parts of Haverhill, Andover, North Andover, Methuen, Boxford and Georgetown.
L'Italien, 47, won the seat in 2002. She had held no political office previously, but said she "worked really hard," knocking on 4,000 doors and parlaying her years of activism in the townwide PTO, the League of Women Voters and the Andona Society into winning votes.
Brennan, 48, ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 2006, losing by more than 2,500 votes. But he's hoping for better luck this time. He recently completed a three-year term on the Georgetown Board of Selectmen and served for eight years on the Salem School Committee, from 1984 to 1992.
They differ on a number of issues. On abortion, L'Italien is pro-choice. Even though she has never had the opportunity to cast a vote on that question during her tenure as a representative, her parish priest barred her from serving as a cantor at Mass because of her stance. She called it "an unfortunate situation."
Brennan said he is "unabashedly pro-life." He said he realizes he can't overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that established a woman's right to have an abortion, but he backs cutting off state funding for abortions.
Brennan said he once voiced support for Question 1, the ballot question that seeks to eliminate the state income tax, to "send a message" to the Legislature.
But he has since dropped his support of the question, as state and national economic news has gotten worse. Besides, he said, "You can't send a message to a liberal Legislature."