Rep. Bill Delahunt (D)
Elected: 1996, 7th term.
Born: July 18, 1941, Quincy .
Education: Middlebury Col., B.A. 1963, Boston Col., J.D. 1967.
Family: Divorced; 2 children.
Military career: Coast Guard, 1963; Coast Guard Reserves, 1963–71.
Elected office: Quincy City Cncl., 1971; MA House of Reps., 1972–75.
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1967–75; Asst. clerk, Norfolk Superior Court, 1969–71; Norfolk Cnty. dist. atty., 1975–96.
The congressman from the 10th District is Bill Delahunt, a Democrat elected in 1996. Delahunt is a lifelong resident of Quincy, at the northern tip of the district. He graduated from Middlebury College and Boston College Law School and served in the Coast Guard. He practiced law and served on the Quincy Council. In 1972, he was elected to the state House. Democratic Gov. Michael Dukakis in 1975 appointed him district attorney of Norfolk County, a job that Delahunt held for two decades. He ran for the U.S. House in 1996, when 24-year incumbent Rep. Gerry Studds retired. He had serious primary competition from former state Rep. Philip Johnston and self-financed environmentalist Ian Bowles. The initial results showed 38% each for Delahunt and Johnston, with Johnston ahead by 266 votes. A recount declared Johnston still ahead by 175 votes.
|Bill Delahunt (D)||272,899||(99%)||($1,217,875)|
|Bill Delahunt (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (64%), 2004 (66%), 2002 (69%), 2000 (74%), 1998 (70%), 1996 (54%)
But Delahunt filed suit, and on October 4, a judge ruled that more than 900 punch-card votes in Weymouth had not been properly tabulated. Foreshadowing another election challenge four years later, the judge ordered a recount of every ballot with an indentation, dimple or other mark. Only in this district and in 14 counties in Texas had dimpled chads ever been counted as votes in the United States until the Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade County canvassing boards started counting them in November 2000. On October 10, Delahunt was declared the winner by 108 votes, even as Johnston was being hailed at a Quincy rally by Sens. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. Johnston called the result a “travesty,” and Delahunt had less than a month to campaign for the general election against conservative state House Minority Leader Edward Teague. Both ran million-dollar campaigns. Eight years earlier, Republican George H. W. Bush carried this district over native son Dukakis. But reaction here to the new Republican majority in the House was hostile, and Delahunt won 54%-42%.
Delahunt has been an active legislator with a very liberal voting record and has kept a pledge to wear Cape Cod ties in the House and hand them out to colleagues of both parties. As the father of an adopted daughter who escaped Vietnam in the 1975 Operation Babylift, he has written laws to ease international adoptions. His positions on abortion offer a window on Massachusetts’ move to the left. In 1974, as a state legislator he called the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion “a tragic decision,” but he switched to a pro-abortion rights position before running for the House.
On the Judiciary Committee, Delahunt teamed with Illinois Republican Ray LaHood on the Innocence Protection Act, which includes federal funding to the states for DNA testing of people accused of crimes. The House passed it, 393-14, and it became law in 2004. His experience with contested elections made him an enthusiast for abolishing the Electoral College.
When the immigration issue heated up in recent years, Delahunt tried to increase the number of temporary visas, partly to boost the seasonal workforce on the Cape. He also chaired an investigation of Republican claims of improper handling by the House’s presiding officer of an August 2007 vote on farm-bill benefits to illegal immigrants. Following a year-long inquiry, the panel unanimously found what Delahunt termed an “abundance of problems” with the vote and the voting system itself, but did not blame any particular member. As a member of the House Ethics Committee, Delahunt chaired the case of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., who was accused by federal investigators of taking bribes.
Delahunt has generated controversy with his hands-on diplomatic efforts. He has met frequently with Venezuela president Hugo Chavez, partly with the goal of securing cheaper oil for low-income constituents. Critics accuse him of supporting a despot. Delahunt also joined several congressional delegations to visit Cuba to encourage democratic reforms. As the chairman of the International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight Subcommittee on the Foreign Affairs Committee, he sought to increase the independence of the State Department’s inspector general following charges of obstruction of sensitive investigations. He also looked into claims that detainees at the federal prison at Guantanamo were held illegally and were tortured.
Delahunt has easily won his re-election bids, with no need to count dimpled chads. On Capitol Hill, he has taken some ribbing for his fraternity-house living quarters. To save on the expense of maintaining two homes, while in Washington Delahunt shares a small townhouse with Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Richard Durbin of Illinois, and their landlord, Rep. George Miller of California. Delahunt sleeps in the living room, as does Schumer, and the refrigerator is frequently empty.