HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse announced a run for Congress in next year’s election at a campaign kickoff Monday night.
He’ll be taking-on longtime Congressman Richard Neal for the Democratic nomination in the state’s 1st Congressional District.
He addressed a large crowd at Unicorn Inn in Holyoke at his kickoff.
“You know we’ve made a lot of progress here in Holyoke but we can make more progress if we have Washington and a government that values places like ours here in western Mass,” Morse told 22News.
Morse’s new congressional campaign sent out a news release and released a YouTube video for his campaign Monday morning. He has also established a campaign website at alexmorseforcongress.com.
In his announcement news release, Morse accused Neal of being “largely silent on the issues that matter most.”
“It’s not just that we need new leadership in Washington. We need new leadership that understands that we can no longer settle for small, incremental, and compromising progress. We need to be on offense. We need to be fighting for something, not just against,” Morse said.
Morse said some of his priorities include affordable healthcare, the opioid epidemic, reproductive rights, and climate change.
“There were people in places that had been forgotten about and left behind and I think that’s the case in many of our cities and towns here in western Massachusetts,” Morse told 22News.
“I think we’ve done here what people didn’t really think was possible, and we want to bring that same energy. Spirit and vision here in the first congressional district.”
Talk about a potential Morse run for Congress intensified in recent weeks, following a report from Politico that the Holyoke mayor was considering a challenge to Neal.
Congressman Neal’s campaign said in a statement to 22News that the Congressman welcomes anyone into the race, and “has fought tirelessly to ensure that the people of our region are not forgotten and receive our fair share.”
First elected mayor of Holyoke back in 2011 following graduation from Brown University, Morse was, at age 22, the youngest person elected to that office. He is also the city’s first openly gay mayor.
Morse is not up for re-election in Holyoke this year, since the city’s recent move to four-year mayoral terms.
Neal has served in Congress since being elected back in 1988. Prior to that, he had served as mayor of Springfield and as a city councilor. Neal is the longest-serving member currently representing Massachusetts in the House, and is chair of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
On several occasions, Neal has faced no opposition for re-election, though he did face a Democratic primary challenge from Springfield attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud in 2018.
The 1st Congressional District is geographically the largest of the nine House districts in Massachusetts, and is made up of 87 cities and towns. It includes all of Berkshire County, nearly all of Hampden County (except for a single precinct in the Bondsville section of Palmer), western Franklin County, western and southern Hampshire County, and the southwestern corner of Worcester County.
Morse told 22News that the congressional campaign will not impact any of his current duties as Mayor.