An openly gay mayor from Massachusetts is running for Congress.
In July of last year, Alex Morse announced his plans to run for Massachusetts’ 1st Congressional District seat. Prior to that announcement, Morse was known as the youngest person, and the first gay person, to become mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts. The then 22-year-old Jewish-American and first-generation college graduate has then led his city of 40,000 up to this day.
But again, Morse, who is now 31, is now challenging U.S. Rep. Richard Neal for the Congressional District seat that Neal has held since 1989. Neal also chairs the House Ways and Means Committee.
On top of his history as a mayor, Morse is hoping his progressive platform will garner support. As he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Morse is running on a platform supporting issues like Medicare for All, defunding the Immigration and Customs and Enforcement agency, legalizing marijuana, and canceling student debt. Morse is also largely concerned with coronavirus pandemic relief.
“The pandemic and how it’s manifesting and impacting our communities in many ways just crystallizes why I’m running for Congress in the first place and who our federal government should be looking out for and working for,” Morse told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “I think it’s illuminated already existing disparities and inequities in our communities that need to be addressed.”
Morse’s progressive mindset is nothing new to those who have followed him throughout the years. Last year, Morse announced his support of several progressive Congresswomen such as New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, fellow Massachusetts politician Anya Pressley, Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib.
“Those four members of Congress in particular represent very courageous and progressive voices in our party, so it would be an honor to get to Congress and work alongside them,” Morse said at the time.
Conversely, Morse has repeatedly found himself compared to South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg. Part of that’s fair, as both are openly gay mayors who were elected in 2011. That said, Morse upholds more progressive policy-making than Buttigieg. Despite their differences, Morse acknowledges a feeling of respect for the mayor who ran for president earlier this year.
“As an openly gay mayor and millennial, watching an openly gay young person and his husband run a very out and proud campaign was certainly exciting and inspiring to watch,” Morse said. “I think we may have different views on certain policies and how to get there, but I think overall we want the same things for our country and our communities.”
So, will Morse stand a chance against a three-decade-long incumbent? We’ll find out in November.