Warren’s presidential bid gets cautious thumbs-up locally

  • Robert Hicks, 50, sits on the steps of Memorial Hall in Northampton, Monday. Hicks said he would support Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s bid for president. STAFF PHOTO/DUSTY CHRISTENSEN

Staff Writer
Published: 12/31/2018 10:49:07 PM

NORTHAMPTON — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s announcement Monday that she’s launching an exploratory committee to run for president caused waves across the country, so it’s no surprise that many in the Pioneer Valley had their own takes.

The decision was largely unsurprising for many, given some of Warren’s recent messaging. Lindsay Sabadosa, the state representative-elect in the 1st Hampshire District, was among those who saw the announcement coming.

“It’s so early,” Sabadosa said. “I’m excited that she’s running, but it’ll be interesting to see who else throws their name in.”

Many political observers have seen Warren’s early entry into the contest as a way to get ahead of all of those others likely to throw their names into the 2020 race. And for Sabadosa, she hopes that one policy will be on the tips of all of those candidates’ tongues in what promises to be a crowded primary.

“I hope they all talk about ‘Medicare for All,’” she said, referring to the single-payer health care system that would provide universal coverage by expanding Medicare to all Americans. Sabadosa is set to be the lead sponsor on Medicare for All legislation in the state House.

The last time Warren sat down for an interview with the Gazette was in May 2017, and the focus of that interview was health care. Warren said that the country has come around to the idea that health care is “a basic human right,” and she suggested she would support moving to a single-payer health care system. She didn’t come out in support of any particular path toward achieving that goal, though.

“I think having made that difference, we are now ready to take on the much bigger issue of how do we deliver the best health care to everyone at the lowest possible cost,” Warren said at the time. “And I think that’s going to push us in the direction of single payer.”

Since then, Warren has co-sponsored independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill.

In her video announcing her decision to explore a presidential run, Warren rails against a political system corrupted by the wealthy and powerful, but doesn’t take any specific policy positions — on health care or any other topic.

Matt Barron, a longtime local Democratic political consultant who left the party last year, described the video as a “feel-good bio.” He said he doesn’t think Warren stands a good chance of winning the Democratic nomination.

“I think she’s kind of missed her window,” he said. “I think there’s other candidates that are more appealing, that have more on their resumes. I just don’t see her being competitive in a number of the key battleground states that it takes to win it all.”

People were out in large numbers in Northampton on Monday afternoon, enjoying First Night events before rain arrived. Many had a positive opinion on Warren’s announcement.

“For so many years we have been living in the shadows of ‘women can’t do certain things,’” said Robert Hicks, 50, as he sat on the steps of Memorial Hall. “It’s time for a change.”

Hicks said it would be great to have a woman become president — a sentiment others agreed with.

“I think she’s really for the people,” said Marilyn Giles, 72. Walking down Center Street, she said she has long had a “Warren 2020” bumper sticker and T-shirt. “We have stuff all over.”

Others, however, were concerned about Warren’s electability.

“I love Elizabeth Warren,” said Donna Brooks of Northampton. But Brooks said she had concerns that Warren didn’t have the “easygoingness and charisma” that many voters will be looking for. “I think we need to run (former vice president Joe) Biden.”

Steven Oksanen, 72, was busking downtown, playing guitar and singing tunes written on the fly for passers-by. When asked what he thought of Warren’s decision, he insisted on answering in song.

“I voted for Elizabeth Warren, but I also voted for Jill Stein,” he sang. “I don’t know about Jill Stein; Elizabeth Warren could win.”

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