First Middlesex

Donoghue will face Buba in Senate rematch


Two years after she was elected to the state Senate, Lowell Democrat Eileen Donoghue is facing a rematch in her bid for a second term.

Lowell Republican James Buba, a 56-year-old veteran whom Donoghue defeated in 2010, is making another run for the First Middlesex District seat.

“I’m hard pressed to look at Eileen Donoghue’s performance in the Senate representing the First Middlesex District as having done anything at all,” said Buba.


But Donoghue, a 58-year-old former city councilor and mayor of Lowell, said that in the past two years she worked to restore some of the cuts to local aid in the district, backed municipal health care reform, and kept her promise to be accessible to the people in her district.

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“I think in my first term I’ve been able to demonstrate and keep the commitments I made to the community,” she said.

The general election on Nov. 6 will decide the winner of the state Senate seat, which represents Dunstable, Groton, Lowell, Pepperell, Tyngsborough, and Westford.

Neither Donoghue nor Buba faced an opponent in the primary elections on Sept. 6.

Donoghue and Buba first squared off for the First Middlesex seat in 2010 after the incumbent senator, Steven C. Panagiotakos, announced he would not seek reelection.


Donoghue won the election by receiving about 51 percent of the vote, with Buba finishing second in the race with about 34 percent , and Patrick O’Connor, running as an independent, third with almost 9 percent . No independent candidate is on the ballot this year.

Encouraged by his showing in the 2010 election, Buba said he thinks he has enough support to take another shot at the Senate seat.

A self-described conservative Republican, Buba has never held a public office. He served in the Air Force from 1974 to 1985, and works in information technology security.

He said he believes the creation of jobs and infrastructure improvements are major issues facing the district. He said he does not agree with some of the legislation approved by the state during Donoghue’s tenure, including the passage over the summer of a health care cost-control bill that sets spending targets for hospitals and doctors, and penalizes those that exceed them.

Buba does not think the bill will control health care costs, and said he should be elected because Democrats hold too much power on Beacon Hill, and people with other points of view are needed in office to rally opposition against bad ideas.


“We don’t have that right now,” he said. “Now we have [Democratic state Senate president] Therese Murray and [Democratic Governor] Deval Patrick telling us what is best for us, and that is a bad recipe.”

Donoghue said that since taking office she has worked to stay in contact with the leadership of each community in her district, and one of her top priorities has been to work to restore cuts that had previously been made in state aid, including funding for education.


She said one of the first things she dealt with in the Senate was the passage of municipal health care reform, which gave cities and towns the ability to shift their workers’ health insurance into the state’s Group Insurance Commission or another lower-cost plan, after discussions with unions.

As a result, Donoghue said, Lowell moved its employees into the Group Insurance Commission and saved $7 million this year, while other communities in the district were able to negotiate savings as well.

Donoghue also served as chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development during her first term, and said she should be reelected because she is a known entity who stands by her record.

“I think experience and knowledge matter, and getting something done matters, especially now,” she said.

According to finance reports the candidates filed with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance prior to the primary elections, Donoghue had raised almost $35,000 for her campaign since the beginning of the year. Her campaign had spent about $21,000 during the same period.

Buba said he has not been spending much time on fund-raising, and according to his campaign finance reports he raised $273 from Jan. 1 through Aug. 19, adding to about $113 he had in his campaign account. His campaign had spent about $356 since the start of the year, according to finance reports.

Brock Parker can be reached at brock.globe@gmail.com.