Morse’s fundraising news draws jab from Neal 

  • Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, left, and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, right. The two Democrats are running against each other for Neal's seat in the 1st Congressional District in 2020. STAFF PHOTO/DUSTY CHRISTENSEN

  • Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, July 22, 2019. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • In this May 9, 2019 file photo, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.  AP FILE PHOTO/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE

Staff Writer
Published: 10/10/2019 4:46:03 PM
Modified: 10/10/2019 4:45:53 PM

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse revealed on Thursday his first fundraising totals in his campaign to oust longtime U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, in the 1st Congressional District. And Neal responded with a jab at Morse’s record.

In a statement, Morse announced that his campaign raised $216,955 this quarter — his first since entering the race on July 22. The figure is higher than the $145,183 in total contributions that Neal’s last challenger, Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, raised in her ultimately unsuccessful campaign in 2016.

“I am so honored by the grassroots support throughout the district, throughout our state and throughout the country,” Morse said on Thursday. He said that, of the more than 3,000 contributions the campaign had received, 70 percent were less than $25 and 94 percent were less than $100.

Neal was quick to respond to Morse’s fundraising announcement. His campaign spokesman, Peter Panos, issued a statement noting that Morse was falling short of his previously stated goal to raise $1 million in 2019 and an additional $2 million in 2020.

“As voters learn about his failed record managing Holyoke — including the schools falling into state receivership because of his inaction and inattention and a home tragically burning down because the fire hydrants were inoperable on his watch — it is clear voters are not confident in his leadership,” the statement read.

Regarding the house fire, Panos was referring to a house at 68 Fairfield Ave. in Holyoke that burned down on Sept. 28, displacing six people. 

The city’s Water Works has said that the fire hydrants on Fairfield were operable but had low water pressure due to an old water main. The street is on a list of 22 high-priority areas slated for work in the next several years after the City Council approved a $13.4 million bond in 2018 to address such capacity issues.

Morse also noted that 100 percent of his contributions are from “actual people.” That statement was a reference to the fact that Morse has publicly stated that he will not take corporate PAC money. 

Neal, by contrast, has raised the third-most corporate PAC money of any House candidate in 2020, according to figures from the Center for Responsive Politics’ website, OpenSecrets.org. Neal has raised $841,200 from business PACs thus far in the 2020 cycle, according to the site.

Neal’s campaign has not yet released his fundraising totals, and quarterly reports aren’t due to the Federal Election Commission until Oct. 15. But Neal’s campaign spokesman told the Gazette that he expects his quarterly fundraising to top $600,000.

Asked to respond to Neal’s criticism, Morse said the comments were completely unrelated to his fundraising news. 

“I think the congressman’s statement speaks for itself,” Morse said. We’re building a grassroots movement here in the district and that statement certainly indicates concern on his part.”

Morse said his campaign wanted to keep the focus on “everyday people and their struggles.” And he said that’s who it seems are donating to his campaign.

“These are just working people, everyday people investing what they can in our vision and in our campaign, and I think that speaks volumes about the campaign we’re building in western Massachusetts,” he said.

Neal’s comments are not the first time the candidates have sparred over their respective records. Morse has previously criticized Neal for taking massive donations from corporations and said that Neal has “dragged his feet” when it comes to holding President Donald Trump accountable.

Late last month, Morse released his tax returns, which showed his total income ranging from $73,015 in 2012 to $80,280 in 2018, with a high of $94,226 in 2015. He said he thinks all public officials should release their tax returns “so the American people know who their representative is beholden to.”

Panos, Neal’s campaign spokesman, said that the campaign still plans on releasing Neal’s tax returns, but that there is “no timeline right now” for when they will be released.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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