BOSTON (State House News Service) - Two western Massachusetts state representatives who Congressman Ed Markey claimed as supporters in his Senate primary bid told the State House News Service they have not endorsed either candidate in the race. A local state senator also said he supports Markey, but has not formally endorsed him.
Reps. William "Smitty" Pignatelli (D-Lenox) and Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke) were featured in Markey's list of 100 current state and local elected officials who the campaign said had "endorsed" Markey for Senate, and both said they have not endorsed him.
"I was surprised when I saw that in our local newspaper today," Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli told the News Service. He said, "I'm surprised, disappointed and I don't know who ever gave them permission to use my name."
Pignatelli said he called the Markey campaign at 8:30 a.m. and had yet to hear back by about 11:30 a.m. Friday.
Markey's campaign meanwhile stood by the endorsement list it put out on Thursday.
"Ed Markey is proud to have the support of more than 100 state and local elected officials across the Commonwealth, who are backing him in this election because of his record of fighting to defend the historic healthcare reform law, protecting a woman's right to choose and being a leader on national security," said Markey's campaign press secretary Andrew Zucker.
Markey will face Congressman Stephen Lynch in the special election Democratic primary on Tuesday. Three Republicans will face off in the GOP primary.
"Whoever wins the primary, I'm 100 percent behind," said Vega, who told the News Service that he is in fact "neutral" as well.
Markey entered the race with what some saw as a tour de force of endorsements from the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy's widow Vicki Kennedy, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and former U.S. Sen. John Kerry, who described his statement as "support," distinct from an endorsement.
On Thursday, Markey sent out a press release announcing the support of 100 state and local officials, including 63 state representatives, 17 state senators and 18 mayors, among others.
"I am humbled to have the support of so many friends and colleagues across the Commonwealth in this election," Markey said in a statement accompanying the announcement.
Sen. James Welch (D-West Springfield), who is on the list of endorsers, told the News Service that he is supporting Markey and telling people he supports Markey, though he has not formally endorsed him.
"I never sent out any official doc saying I endorsed," Welch said. He said he was preoccupied with some other matters, so not that active in campaigning and said, "Ed Markey is the candidate I support."
Pignatelli said he has never spoken with Markey beyond exchanging greetings at the recent funeral for former House Speaker Tom McGee.
"I would never ever use anyone's name without direct acknowledgement or signing a piece of paper," Pignatelli said. Saying he is from the Tip O'Neill school of politics where face-to-face meetings have importance, Pignatelli said, "I certainly wouldn't endorse someone I've never spoken to."
The three lawmakers who spoke to the News Service on Friday about not endorsing Markey are from the western part of the state. Speaking about Lynch and Markey, Vega said, "I think they both bring different strengths to the race, and hope that they will represent all of Massachusetts."
Copyright State House News Service