AOC gives Morse a homestretch boost
Ocasio-Cortez PAC throws support behind challenger to Neal
IN THE LATEST headline-grabber in a race that has had several in recent weeks, Alex Morse’s campaign to unseat Rep. Richard Neal in next week’s Democratic primary, the national leader of the party’s insurgent left wing, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is throwing her support behind the Holyoke mayor.
Courage to Change, the political action committee Ocasio-Cortez has deployed to boost lefty challengers to incumbents, is jumping into the First Congressional District race with less than a week to go.
“I am so proud to have the endorsement of @AOC‘s @CouragetoChange,” Morse tweeted. “When AOC took on an entrenched incumbent, she changed the Democratic Party for the better. It would be an honor to serve alongside her in Congress to fight for progressive change that benefits working families.”
From the start, political watchers have debated the degree to which Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 victory in New York City over veteran Democrat Joe Crowley, or Ayanna Pressley’s win over Mike Capuano in the Boston-based district he represented for 20 years, provide a template for Morse’s run against Neal, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. In both of those contests, race and gender played a role in the appeal of sweeping out the old and bringing in the new, with Ocasio-Cortez, who is Latino, and Pressley, who is black, bringing racial diversity and more female representation to the halls of Congress long dominated by white men.
While race and gender have not been at play in the race, sexual orientation has suddenly landed in the campaign narrative. Earlier this month, College Democrats of Massachusetts, in a letter to Morse that was then leaked to the UMass Amherst student newspaper The Daily Collegian, accused the openly gay mayor of pursuing inappropriate relationships with UMass students.
The news initially looked devastating to Morse’s campaign, but lots of unanswered questions surfaced, and no one has yet come forward to publicly level any accusations of misconduct against him. But lots of intrigue, including allegations of skullduggery on the part of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, has ensued. Texts emerged that gave the whole episode the look of a calculated hit job.
Morse acknowledged having consensual relationships with UMass undergrads. With his sex life suddenly in the spotlight, gay activists have voiced fears that the episode will discourage others in the LGBT community from seeking office.
Earlier this week, the New York Times dug into the saga, and its headline pronounced Morse “Accused, Condemned and then Vindicated.” It now seems an open question whether the whole ordeal might give Morse a boost. It has certainly brought attention to a race that had been overshadowed by the Markey-Kennedy primary for Senate and open contest for the House seat being vacated by Kennedy.
Could the endorsement from Ocasio-Cortez give Morse a further bigger boost as the race comes down to the wire?Ed Markey sure seems to think it’s political gold to have her attached to your run. Besides the Malden pol himself, AOC’s image pops more in his Senate campaign ads than that of any Massachusetts resident. And in speeches and debates we’ve probably been told more times by Markey that he is cosponsor with her of the Green New Deal than we’ve been reminded that his father “drove a truck for the Hood milk company.” (And that’s saying something.)
In the Western Mass. contest, actual differences are clear between the candidates, and Morse’s status as the more progressive choice is not in dispute. But the AOC endorsement puts a nationally recognized exclamation mark on it — and that’s certainly good news for Morse.