Neal, Morse spar over fundraising

  • Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, left, and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal are contesting the 1st Congressional District in 2020. GAZETTE FILE PHOTOS

  • The Capitol is seen amid reflections in the Russell Senate Office Building on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020.  AP FILE PHOTO/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE

Staff Writer
Published: 2/5/2020 3:38:45 PM

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that a Republican was running in the 1st Congressional District race. John Cain, a Southwick businessman, announced in December that he would run for the state Senate in the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District instead.

HOLYOKE — End-of-year federal campaign finance reports are out, and the Democratic candidates in the 1st Congressional District are already offering differing opinions on their meaning.

According to Federal Election Commission filings, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse raised just under $123,000 in the period between Oct. 1 and the end of 2019, bringing his fundraising totals to $340,00 since he announced his campaign in July. Morse, who is not accepting corporate PAC money for his campaign, reported having $120,434 in hand, meaning he spent all of what he raised prior to the quarter.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, raised $518,361 in the year’s last quarter while spending $340,575, according to FEC filings. Of that total raised, the 30-year incumbent received $348,300 from political committees such as PACs. Neal — one of the top recipients of corporate money in Congress — raised $2.6 million in 2019, bringing his current cash on hand to almost $4.5 million.

John Cain, a Republican businessman from Southwick, was previously running for the seat before switching races to compete for the state Senate seat in the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District. Cain raised just over $1,000 in the quarter, FEC filings show. That brings his fundraising total to $10,921, including a $7,775 loan he made to his own campaign.

Following the release of the fundraising numbers, the two Democrats running for the seat immediately sought to establish their own narrative about what the numbers mean.

In a statement, Neal’s campaign criticized Morse for failing to raise $1 million for 2019 — a “raise goal” that a consultant working for the campaign provided the Gazette in July.

“How can voters be expected to invest in Alex Morse when he himself is not invested in the job he has now?” the statement from Neal’s campaign reads. “Alex has made very lofty promises about fundraising and has come up significantly short at every turn, which mirrors the promises he has made to the people who elected him to serve: schools, infrastructure, and fiscal wellness have all come up significantly short at the expense of the voters.”

In his own statement, Morse pointed to Neal’s significant fundraising from corporate interests.

“It’s no surprise that Richard Neal wants to turn this primary into a fundraising contest — he can raise unlimited amounts of money from corporate PACs, and he’s delivered far more for those special interests than he has for the people of western Massachusetts,” Morse said.

Morse also took issue with Neal’s contention that he did not meet the fundraising totals his campaign previously gave to the Gazette.

“The truth is we’re hitting our finance goals and we’re going to have not just the money, but the energy, enthusiasm, and organization needed to win in September,” Morse said.

Neal and Morse will face off in the Democratic primary on Sept. 1.

Morse’s itemized receipts show his funds are all from a broad range of individual donors that include Martha Coakley, the former state attorney general, Noah McCormack, the publisher of The Baffler magazine in Manhattan, and Miguel Arce, the founding executive director of Nueva Esperanza in Holyoke. The lone exception is a $1,000 donation from the political action committee of Justice Democrats, which is a group that looks to support left-leaning Democrats attempting to oust more conservative members of the party in primary races. 

In a statement, Morse said that he has donors from 71 of the 87 municipalities in the 1st Congressional District.

“While more than half of Neal’s campaign funds come from out-of-state corporate PACs and special interests like Big Pharma, fossil fuel companies, and Wall Street, I’m proud to say that I’m refusing to take a single dollar of corporate PAC money,” Morse said. “This campaign is powered by the people — and when I’m in Congress, that’s exactly who I’ll be working for.”

Neal’s itemized receipts show individual donations from across Massachusetts and the country, including from executives at corporations like the bank Citigroup, Blue Cross Blue Shield, defense contractor General Dynamics, Procter & Gamble and the private equity firm Blackstone.

Neal also received large contributions from the political action committees of giant corporations like AT&T, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Dow Inc., Duke Energy, Eversource Energy, Facebook, HSBC, Humana, McDonalds, Morgan Stanley, Pepsico, Raytheon and WalMart.

Thus far this election cycle, Neal has received more money from business PACs than any other mem ber of the House, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ website, The top industries contributing to Neal are securities and investment, real estate, health professionals, insurance, lobbyists and electric utilities, according to the website.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at


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