Voters, campaigns gear up for Super Tuesday

  • Andrew Leland, of Northampton, talks about the upcoming Democratic primary elections while on Main Street in Northampton, Feb. 25, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Robert Hicks, of Florence, talks about the upcoming Democratic primary elections while on Main Street in Northampton, Feb. 25, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • John Bienz, of Goshen, talks about the upcoming Democratic primary elections while on Main Street in Northampton, Feb. 25, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Katherine Waddell, of Conway, talks about the upcoming Democratic primary elections while on Main Street in Northampton, Feb. 25, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS 

  • Robert Hicks, of Florence, talks about the upcoming Democratic primary elections while on Main Street in Northampton, Feb. 25, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS 

  • Kirsten Rybozynski and Elizabeth Haymaker, both of Northampton, talks about the upcoming Democratic primary elections while on Main Street in Northampton, Feb. 25, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS 

  • John Bienz, of Goshen, talks about the upcoming Democratic primary elections while on Main Street in Northampton, Feb. 25, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS 

  • Virginia Rechtschaffen, of Northampton, talks about the upcoming Democratic primary elections while on Main Street in Northampton, Feb. 25, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS 

Published: 2/25/2020 9:46:03 PM

NORTHAMPTON — As some Massachusetts Democrats begin to vote early before the presidential primary on Super Tuesday, campaigns and their supporters are making final pushes in an effort to win the state.

This week, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders announced a Springfield rally scheduled for Friday at the MassMutual Center, to be followed by a noon rally Saturday on Boston Common — mere days before final votes in Massachusetts, 13 other states and American Samoa are counted on March 3.

A recent UMass Lowell poll showed Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren neck-and-neck in the state among Democratic primary voters, with Sanders capturing 21% and Warren 20%. Following the top two candidates was former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg with 15%, former vice president Joe Biden with 14% and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg with 12%.

And as Sanders gains momentum after winning the popular vote in the three earliest states — Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada — questions are beginning to rise about Warren’s chances of winning her home state.

Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, who supports Warren, believes Warren and Sanders are two of the most closely aligned candidates in the crowded field.

“They have a lot of respect for each other and worked together,” Narkewicz said. “It’s not surprising they’re drawing heavily from progressive voters in the Democratic Party.”

Narkewicz said he supports Warren because he has seen her work on behalf of her constituents in the state through his role as mayor. He said he admired Warren’s “intelligence, experience and her courage, frankly, to be willing to take on big issues.”

“She is willing to tackle big problems and speak about them in a way that people can understand them and put forward clear plans for addressing them,” Narkewicz added.

He said that though Sanders has a strong following in the state, Warren has a chance to win in Massachusetts because “the people who know her best are the people who she’s serving in the U.S. Senate.”

On Tuesday, the Warren campaign announced the endorsements of 147 federal, state and local elected Massachusetts officials, including Attorney General Maura Healey and Congressman Jim McGovern, D-Worcester.

Narkewicz warned against putting too much stock in polls, saying that they, like the rest of the race, remain “fluid.”

“She’s a home-state senator, and she’s running a 50-state campaign,” he said.

“The most important poll will be on March 3,” he added.

Poll limitations

Bill Scher, a Northampton resident and contributing editor to POLITICO Magazine, described himself as “a big fan of polls.” The problem, he said, is that there is not much polling data from after the Nevada caucuses. And two other big events — Tuesday night’s debate and Saturday’s primary in South Carolina — could significantly impact voter preferences. 

“There are so many permutations here,” Scher said. 

Scher, who does not endorse candidates, said it is noteworthy that Sanders is holding rallies in Springfield and Boston, spending “precious time” in Massachusetts ahead of Super Tuesday instead of states with more delegates up for grabs.

“If he thought Massachusetts was in the bag for Warren, he wouldn’t spend a day here,” he said. “And he’s spending two days here.”

State Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, is a state co-chair for the Sanders campaign and said that she believes the neighboring senator is doing well because he has “a message that resonates with working-class Americans and for the people who want bold structural change in Massachusetts.”

Sabadosa is “cautiously optimistic” about Sanders’ chances in the state, saying “polls can always be wrong.” She said she supports Sanders in part because she believes he has the best chance at beating President Donald Trump. And the Vermont senator’s recent wins in early primary states, Sabadosa said, may start to sway voters across the country.

“When you don’t see your senator doing well in other states, you start to wonder, ‘Is she going to be the candidate that will do well nationally?’” Sabadosa said about Warren.

Rosemary Boeglin, northeast press secretary for the Sanders campaign, said that while they aren’t taking any votes for granted, the campaign is optimistic about the Vermont senator’s chances in Massachusetts. She said this weekend alone, volunteers from over 60 sites knocked on over 50,000 doors across the state.

“We’re propelled by a strong showing in the early states,” Boeglin said. “It shows the coalition we’re building.”

Voters’ voices

In a random survey of people who were out and about in Northampton on Tuesday afternoon, the vast majority said they were Sanders supporters, though many said they liked Warren.

Katherine Waddell, of Conway, said that she has nothing against Warren, but she “couldn’t get excited” about supporting her.

“I’m surprised Bernie’s picking up steam,” she said.

Andrew Leland, of Northampton, is another who has had “a sudden wave of optimism about Bernie” but added, “I’ve been hurt before.”

“I feel low-grade stress about his age, but now it’s time to go with your convictions,” Leland said. “And that’s Bernie Sanders.”

Elizabeth Haymaker was walking with Kirsten Rybczynski, and both said they were planning on voting for Sanders.

“I’m scared of having another woman on the ballot,” Haymaker said. “I’m scared of the disappointment.”

Northampton High School student and chair of the Massachusetts High School Democrats Tadea Martin-Gonzalez said in a phone interview that she believes Warren has a good shot at beating Trump in the general election.

“I think the question of electability is really a way to preserve the status quo,” Martin-Gonzalez said. “Just because we’ve never had a woman president and we lost once doesn’t mean that we are going to lose again.”

Goshen resident John Bienz said he’s planning on voting for Warren in the primary, though he said he would vote for Sanders in the general election if he wins the nomination.

“Warren has shown more ability to work with other people, which is important for the president to do,” Bienz said.

Bienz believes Warren should prevail in Massachusetts but conceded that she hasn’t become a “media star” like Sanders.

“Bernie has the magic of stardom. Warren doesn’t,” Bienz said. “And I’m disappointed by that.”

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com.


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