Launching campaign, Morse gets hometown boost

  • Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, right, stands beside his brother, Douglas Morse, during a campaign launch party at Unicorn Inn in Holyoke, Monday, July 22, 2019. The mayor is challenging U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, for his seat in the 1st Congressional District. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Mary Custard, front, of Amherst, takes a selfie with Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, Karen Brown, of Amherst, and Theresa Cooper-Gordon, of Holyoke, during Morse’s campaign launch party Monday at Unicorn Inn in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, holding microphone, speaks during his campaign launch party, Monday, July 22, 2019 at Unicorn Inn in Holyoke. The mayor is challenging U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, for his seat in the 1st Congressional District. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, holding microphone, speaks during his campaign launch party, Monday, at Unicorn Inn in Holyoke. The mayor is challenging U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, for his seat in the 1st Congressional District. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Myriam Quinones, of Holyoke, shares her thoughts about Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse and his announcement that he is challenging U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, for his seat in the 1st Congressional District, Monday, July 22, 2019 at Unicorn Inn in Holyoke. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Supporters cheer for Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse during his campaign launch party, Monday, July 22, 2019 at Unicorn Inn in Holyoke. The mayor is challenging U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, for his seat in the 1st Congressional District. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jeffery Anderson-Burgos, of Holyoke, shares his thoughts about Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse and Morse's announcement that he is challenging U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, for his seat in the 1st Congressional District, Monday, July 22, 2019 at Unicorn Inn in Holyoke. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, holding microphone, speaks during his campaign launch party, Monday, July 22, 2019 at Unicorn Inn in Holyoke. The mayor is challenging U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, for his seat in the 1st Congressional District. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Theresa Cooper-Gordon, of Holyoke, at microphone, introduces Mayor Alex Morse during a campaign launch party, Monday, July 22, 2019 at Unicorn Inn in Holyoke. The mayor is challenging U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, for his seat in the 1st Congressional District. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 7/22/2019 11:09:34 PM

HOLYOKE — A crowd of some 200 people gathered at the Unicorn Inn on Monday evening to cheer on Mayor Alex Morse in his challenge to U.S. Rep. Richard Neal.

Around the full bar, people held signs that said “MORSE/Democrat for Congress” and bundles of blue and white balloons decorated the room’s corners.

“Who do we want? Alex,” the crowd chanted after Theresa Cooper-Gordon, a Holyoke resident who used to live in Amherst, introduced Morse.

“We want to build a movement where everyone is on level ground,” he said addressing the crowd and speaking about his plans.

During his campaign, Morse said, some voters might ask, why give up the power Neal has as a longtime lawmaker?

“For me, it’s about, power for whom? … We want to make sure it’s not power for the wealthy and the well connected, the corporations and the corporate PACs and special interests,” he told the room.

Morse announced Monday he will not take corporate PAC money.

“When I go to Washington to make decisions,” he continued, “the only special interest I will have is the people of the 1st Congressional District.”

He talked about wanting to address issues like health care, the opioid crisis and economic opportunity in Congress.

Morse said he knows that unseating Neal will be difficult. The former Springfield mayor, now chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, is one of the most powerful people in the U.S. House and has been in Congress since 1989, the same year Morse was born.

But, “I’ve been inspired by a progressive class of Democrats that have taken on the establishment,” Morse told the crowd.

“It’s not the people who have been in Washington for 20 or 30 years that are really leading on the issues,” he later told the Gazette, “it’s the people who have been there as short as seven months.”

Morse told the Gazette he intends to stay in his position as mayor during the campaign.

“Nothing will change in my capacity as mayor,” he said. “It will be business as usual.” He also said he plans to get out and starting talking to the people in the district’s 87 cities and towns.

After addressing the crowd, many supporters lined up for photos with Morse as songs like John Lennon’s “Power to the People” and U2’s “Beautiful Day” played loudly.

Many supporters in attendance spoke about wanting to see a change in their representation in Congress.

“Change is needed,” said Myriam Quinones, a Holyoke resident. “You can’t have (that) with someone who’s been there for many years.”

Louie Katz, 27 of Agawam, echoed Quinones. “I’d like to see a change in Washington ... I want to see what Mayor Morse has to say.” Katz added he was interested to see if Morse was “a little more progressive” than Neal.

Hector Martinez III has lived in Holyoke for 38 years, nearly his entire life. “I’ve seen mayors come and go,” he said. But in Morse’s time, he’s seen the government listen to people it hadn’t before and improvements to the city such as infrastructure upgrades.

“The city hall is not just the city hall of the mayor, but of all the people,” Martinez said. In Congress, Martinez thinks Morse could continue that trend.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.




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