Aides see lessons for incumbents in Neal's win over progressive primary challenger

It had all the makings for another upset.

민주당 대표. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, a 30-plus year member of the House, faced a primary challenge from an up and coming mayor 40 years his junior, running to his left.
Alex Morse, mayor of Holyoke since he was 22, argued Neal was out of touch with the district, and should be doing more in his powerful leadership position as House Ways and Means Committee chairmanand hammered Neal over not backing progressive benchmarks like the Green New Deal andMedicare for All.
Morse’s bid caught the interest and financial support from outside groups with track records for supporting successful primary challenges: Justice Democrats, the Sunrise Movement and even Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s newly formed PAC.
    All these candidates benefited from a national network of fundraising and we saw Alex beginning to do that, and his fundraising was picking up and he was having bigger events,” said Joshua Karp, an adviser to the Neal campaign.
    It looked like it could have been a repeat of a story we’re seeing more and more in Democratic races. But it wasn’t. Morse called Neal and conceded on primary election night last week.
    While there were plenty of developments that made the primary unique, aides and advisers from both campaigns as well as political observers saw lessons learned from the race that other incumbents would do well to keep in mind in the future.
    If there’s one key message for longtime incumbents, it is to take the race seriously. Neal didn’t make the same mistakes as his now-former colleagueshe showed up for debates, he raised money and he spent on advertising. He wasn’t caught on hot mic like at least one incumbent who lost this year 였다. He had also just fended off a primary challenge in 2018, meaning he had a campaign infrastructure already in place.
    I think to Neal’s credit, he didn’t take this for granted. He worked really hard,” said Doug Rubin, a Morse adviser. “He leveraged all the things he could leverage, he had outside groups, and he took it very seriously.
    Both sides saw outside spending according to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings, 거의 포함 $ 70,000 from the American Hospital PAC in support of Neal, $ 311,450 in opposition to Morse from the American Working Families PAC, 과 $ 1,392 from Indivisible Action in support of Morse.
    It was always going to be hard,” said Alexandra Rojas, executive director of the Justice Democrats, which also backed Missouri’s Cori Bush and New York’s Jamaal Bowman’s successful primary challenges earlier this summer. “I think this race turned out the way it did for a lot of different reasons but at the end of the day, this was going to be a difficult fight for progressives.

    Different calculus in western Mass

    Massachusetts may have a reputation as a deep blue state, but progressive bonafides aren’t the surefire path to victory in the western part.
    Even though the progressives pushed (Ed) Markey ahead, especially in the Boston area, and they voted for him here, but they just don’t have the numbers out here to rack up the win for Morse,” said Ray La Raja, political science professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst, citing the Senate race at the top of the Democratic primary ticket. Neal’s longtime ties to the district were especially helpful when the pandemic altered the campaign trail.
    He may be chairman of Ways and Means Committee, but if you ask anyone in the district, he’s still referred to as Richie Neal,” said Candy Glazer, a Neal backer and former longtime chair of the Longmeadow Democrats.
    You have to stay close to your district,” Glazer said. “Some of the upsets either the district changed and the incumbent didn’t realize it, which was not the case here for Congressman Neal, but I think you also have to have a record you can point to.
    매사추세츠 주’ first congressional district is the largest in the commonwealth, made up of 87 cities and towns. Its rural swaths are peppered with small towns and a few small urban areas like Springfield, Holyoke and Pittsfield.
    Morse’s progressive message did not resonate in many of these areas. People seem to care more about constituency services than the progressive agenda, so Neal had a huge advantage on that count,” said Howard Gold, professor of government at Smith College in Northampton.

    Allegations shake up the race

    The race did get national attention in the run up to Election Day, in part from a scandal with unexpected twists.
    8 월 상순, the Massachusetts College Democrats sent a letter to Morse disinviting him from future events and accusing the openly gay mayor and former university lecturer of using his positions to leverage sexual or romantic relationships with students, some of whom were made to feel “앉기 불편한” by the interactions. The school newspaper published parts of a letter, given to them by a source.
    Morse apologized in an email to the College Democrats on the same day he received their allegation, stressing that all of his interactions and relationships with students had been consensual. The day after the story of the exchange broke, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he’d previously lectured, announced it’d opened a Title IX investigation.
    Many of Morse’s most prominent supporters, including Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement, went silent or announced they would pause their efforts until more information became available. The Victory Fund was one of the few that stuck by Morse, condemning the allegations.
    They were the kind of partners you’d want in a fight like that,” Rubin said.
    Things then got even more complicated in the days after the student group’s letter was published. The Intercept obtained and published messages between students who, before the accusations became public, appeared to be discussing ways to undermine Morse’s candidacy. The site was also first to report that the Massachusetts Democratic Party had been previously alerted to the allegations and referred the organization’s leadership to a prominent Democratic attorney for legal advice.
    Neal’s campaign has denied any connection to the writing or dissemination of the accusations and there is no evidence Neal was aware of, or played any role, in stoking them.
    The incident garnered national coverageand Morse’s best week of fundraising.
    In the district, I think it had a very negative impact on Alex whereas nationally it definitely helped increase attention and raise money and raise his profile,” Rubin said.
    선거일 전날, the University of Massachusetts Amherst College Democratsexecutive board apologized for releasing the letter 그리고 “homophobic attacks as a result of our actions.
    After the election, Victory Fund criticized Morse’s loss by ahomophobic campaign strategy,” 첨가: “The attacks drew national attention to the double standards LGBTQ candidates often faceespecially as it relates to their dating and sex lives.
      Facing no Republican opponent this fall, Neal’s reelection is all but assured, and the outcome of this month’s primary could impact his strategy for 2022.
      You can bet Richie Neal is going to be paying attention to these groups and trying to work with some of them so they don’t primary him again,” La Raja said. “They’ve already proved their point even though Morse lost.

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