Republican John Cain running for Neal’s seat in 2020


Staff Writer
Published: 7/23/2019 10:18:59 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Though all eyes may seem fixed on the 2020 Democratic primary for Massachusetts’ 1st Congressional District, a Republican hopeful has announced his candidacy for the seat.

John Cain, 30, of Southwick, is a former Navy officer and current small-business owner who announced his bid against incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, on Tuesday. Cain said he was running to be a voice for those who have been “forgotten” by Democrats in Washington, D.C.

“I’m running for Congress because I see a real lack of representation of what citizens really want in government,” Cain said.

The announcement came one day after Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse announced his intention to challenge Neal for their party’s nomination.

The last time a Republican challenged Neal was in 2010 when he beat Tom Wesley by about 14 percent of the vote. At the time, Neal represented the 2nd Congressional District prior to redistricting in 2011 after the completion of the 2010 census.

Cain is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, with a degree in marine engineering. He was appointed to the school in 2006 by Neal. He also worked on both merchant and military vessels as an engineer and served for eight years in the Navy Reserves.

Now, Cain operates construction and mechanical repair businesses in Feeding Hills. He also serves as a volunteer firefighter for the Southwick Fire Department.

Too often, he said, Republicans running for Congress in western Massachusetts are told that overcoming an incumbent Democrat is impossible. Cain pushed back on this notion, saying there are many people with conservative political views looking for an elected official to represent them.

He said there was a need in the district for a broader discussion of issues that reach across the aisle.

“I think there’s a lot more people who think the Republicans do have a chance, and they are afraid to speak out because they’re afraid of being overpowered,” he said.

Cain describes himself as “center of the aisle” on social issues and fiscally conservative. When asked about his positions on social issues such as abortion, Cain declined to elaborate, saying he was not prepared to comment on policy specifics at this time.

But Cain did explain that he believed too much federal money was being spent without public input, saying that more of an investment should be made to improve infrastructure across the district and toward skilled labor training.

As a small business owner himself, Cain said, it’s hard for him to find qualified labor for repair work. He said society has placed too much of an emphasis on higher education, and that more attention should be put on bolstering trades by creating skilled labor training centers with federal money.

“I think it could help every business in western Massachusetts,” he said.

Cain called the national debt “outrageous,” saying more oversight needs to be placed on what lawmakers spend taxpayer money on.

“There’s a lack of accountability for a lot of the spending that goes on in government,” he said.

Cain lambasted what he called an “ineffective” Congress, saying that government has become more about finger-pointing and arguing than understanding. Using Neal’s 30 years of service in the House as an example, Cain called for term limits on all members of Congress.

“I think a politician who has been in Washington for so long is focused on staying in Washington,” he said. “And I’m focused on doing what the people in western Massachusetts want me to do.”

The 1st District covers 87 municipalities in five counties, including the Hampshire County towns of Chesterfield, Cummington, Easthampton, Goshen, Granby, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield, South Hadley, Southampton, Westhampton, Williamsburg and Worthington.

Michael Connors can be reached at


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