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Massachusetts Rep. Neal Draws First GOP Foe Since 1996

Republican Jay Fleitman, a physician and first-time congressional candidate, faces prohibitive odds in his planned 2010 challenge to 11-term Democratic Rep. Richard E. Neal in Massachusetts’ 2nd District.

But by staging the first Republican challenge to Neal since 1996 — that’s seven elections ago — Fleitman is acting on the obvious political truism that you can’t beat somebody with nobody.

Fleitman, a specialist in internal and pulmonary medicine and chairman of the board of health in his hometown of Northampton, said that he is “optimistic and enthusiastic” about his bid. He said he wasn’t “looking to run for office” as he likes what he’s doing, but decided to run “because people are going to be increasingly uncomfortable with the direction of the country.”