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Robert Reich backs Comerford in Senate race

  • Robert Reich GAZETTE FILE PHOTO



@BeraDunau
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — Robert Reich, the nationally-known progressive commentator and former secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton, has endorsed Jo Comerford’s bid for the Massachusetts state Senate.

“I think she’s terrific,” Reich said, in a phone interview with the Gazette.

Comerford, a former director at MoveOn.org who lives in Northampton, is running for the Democratic nomination for the Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester District as a write-in candidate.

Reich said he worked with Comerford while she was at MoveOn.org, which has partnered with the media company he helped found, Inequality Media. For years Comerford led the partnership from the MoveOn side between the two groups.

“I’ve been impressed by her commitment, her intelligence,” Reich said. “She’s a true progressive.”

Reich noted that he personally endorses few candidates, and that this will be the first candidate he has endorsed from Massachusetts this year, as well as the first candidate in a state legislative race this year.

“I don’t endorse candidates unless I know them well and feel strongly about them,” said Reich.

He also gave a third criteria, which is that he knows their constituents.

Reich’s sister Ellen lives in Northampton and is a recently-retired Amherst schools teacher, and Reich says that he visits her regularly. Reich also lived in Massachusetts from 1981 to 2006, and he ran for governor of the state in 2002.

Reich currently lives in California, where he is a professor at the University of California Berkley, and he said that he probably would not be able to campaign for Comerford in person.

Reich concluded by saying that Comerford’s constituents will be lucky to have her fighting for them.

“She’s a great fighter,” he said. “And her values are impeccable.”

Comerford described the endorsement as a great honor, and said that years ago Reich took it upon himself to explain complex policies to the American people.

“He really is our nation’s teacher,” she said.

The only candidate on the ballot in this race is Northampton women’s rights advocate and educator Chelsea Kline. The other three write-in candidates are Northampton City Council President Ryan O’Donnell, Central Hampshire Veterans’ Services Director Steven Connor of Northampton, and attorney David J. Murphy of Amherst.

The primary will be on Sept. 4.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.