National political figures endorse Neal, Morse in race for congressional seat

  • U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York HOUSE TELEVISION via AP

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California AP PHOTO/SUSAN WALSH

  • Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, left, and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield. FILE PHOTOS

Staff Writer
Published: 8/26/2020 1:53:10 PM

HOLYOKE — National political figures are throwing their support behind candidates in the 1st Congressional District as the race becomes a bellwether of the influence of the Democratic Party’s left wing.

On Tuesday, the political action committee of New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse in his bid to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, a powerful member of the Democratic establishment. Morse told the Gazette that Ocasio-Cortez’s own victory over an entrenched incumbent in 2018 was part of the reason he decided to run against Neal.

“I’m just incredibly grateful and excited to have her and her PAC support at this critical moment of this campaign and this critical moment in our country,” Morse said.

Neal, meanwhile, has been backed by influential members of Democratic Party leadership, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the late Georgia congressman John Lewis. In an ad that Pelosi cut for Neal, she portrayed the chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee as someone who stood beside her in the fight against President Donald Trump.

“Richie delivers for his district,” Pelosi said. “He delivered over a billion dollars for western and central Massachusetts.”

Endorsements in the race have further spotlighted how national political leaders view the race: as a battle between an insurgent left and the centrist wing of the party that holds power.

Ocasio-Cortez has become a leader on the party’s progressive left and has on occasion clashed with Pelosi and party leaders on policy disputes.

Morse is running his campaign on progressive policy planks like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, neither of which Neal has backed. Neal, meanwhile, has leaned on his record bringing funding to the district, particularly his central role writing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act.

Mail-in and early voting are already under way in the 1st Congressional District, which includes all of Berkshire County, all of Hampden County except for one precinct in Palmer, and parts of Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester counties.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at


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