Phair running far to the right of Mark as unenrolled candidate for Hinds’ Mass. state Senate seat
A Pittsfield, Massachusetts paraprofessional is running as an unenrolled conservative candidate in the race to fill outgoing State Senator Adam Hinds’ seat representing the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden district.
Brendan Phair is taking on Democratic 2nd Berkshire State Representative Paul Mark in next month’s election.
“I was born and raised and reside here in Pittsfield with my wife Allison and our family," he told WAMC. "And I currently work at Taconic High School in special education. I've been there for about six years, and I've been with the Pittsfield Public School system since 2008.”
Mark, a Bernie Sanders supporter and Medicare For All proponent, has received the backing of Hinds and the rest of the all-Democratic Berkshire state legislative delegation in his bid for state senate.
Phair describes himself as both fiscally and socially conservative and disagrees with Mark on a number of issues.
“One big one is the climate bill of 2021," he told WAMC. "Within that bill was the 2035 electric vehicle mandate. I would have voted against that. I definitely do not support the electric vehicle mandate. I support consumer choice. I believe people should have the option between purchasing a new gas operated vehicle here in Massachusetts or an electric vehicle.”
Gun rights are another major point of departure between the two candidates.
“I support the Second Amendment," said Phair. "I support gun owners and I support gun stores and gun manufacturers. I believe having the right to own a firearm is very important. Time and time again, the interests of gun owners gun owners are thrown under the bus. I know Paul has an F rating by the NRA and he has a very poor rating from GOAL, Gun Owners Action League, which is here in Massachusetts. They don't have a rating for him this year, because he's a candidate, he's not an incumbent, and he didn't fill out a questionnaire for GOAL. I did, and I received 100% rating with Gun Owners Action League. I support right to carry. I believe Massachusetts should become either a constitutional carry state or shall issue state as opposed to a may issue state. Right now, we’re one of only seven states that are may issue- Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, a lot of states that unfortunately have very high crime. There's a bill to require gun owners to purchase liability insurance. I'm against that. We shouldn't have to pay a fee or insurance premium to exercise our Second Amendment right. So I think my views represent the people of Berkshire County and the hilltowns much better on the not only electric vehicle mandate and consumer choice but also our Second Amendment rights. I will never demonize gun owners or gun stores and make them out to be the bad guys. We’re the good guys and I support right to carry.”
While a staunch defender of gun rights, Phair is just as passionately against access to abortions.
“The only exemption I would provide or support is medical emergency or rape, but within the first 12 weeks," said the candidate. "That would be a policy that I would support. I'm against abortion on demand. I’m against the Roe Act that Paul voted for in December of 2020. It's abortion on demand. He'll deny it and refer to it as something else, but it's abortion on demand, abortion anytime for any reason, right up to the point of the mother dilating. It reduces the age of consent from 18 to 16, and it took away language that required lifesaving medical care for babies that survived an abortion. And it was a horrible bill. It's a travesty that it passed.”
Phair says that he differs with the outgoing Hinds – who co-sponsored the ROE act – on other issues, too.
“He voted against increasing the threshold on the estate tax," said Phair. "A lot of farmers support increasing the threshold on the estate tax, and he sent out a press release saying he's heard from a lot of farmers expressing their desire to have the threshold raised on the estate tax and he says he's listening to his people, his constituents, but then he went and turned around and voted against increasing the estate tax threshold. So that was kind of disappointing. But I think overall, he was a pretty good state senator and certainly had people first and foremost in his mind and tried his best.”
The candidate praised Hinds’ involvement in promoting increased rail access in Western Massachusetts and work to expand broadband in the region.
While he’s running as an independent, Phair says the message of Trump-endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate and former state representative Geoff Diehl appeals to him.
“I do know that he says that he is pro-Second Amendment and pro-life and supports tax cuts and tax relief measures," he said. "So that's important to me, and I'm glad to hear that. And I pretty sure he's pro-business and pro-parental rights and pro-law enforcement. So he certainly checks off a lot of boxes with things that he supports.”
He’s certainly not a fan of the Democratic candidate seen as the overwhelming favorite in the race.
“Maura Healey is beholden to groups like Planned Parenthood," Phair told WAMC. "She does their bidding. She is all in towards abortion. She is anti-Second Amendment. You can go back six or seven years ago when she unilaterally banned entire classifications of firearms- Unconstitutionally, too. Her measures completely bypassed the legislative process. She just concluded that the Massachusetts Gun Control Act of 1998 was dynamic, or evolving, I think is the word she used. So she just decided to ban a whole bunch of semi-automatic rifles. It was completely unconstitutional, completely unnecessary, an overstep of her authority. So she's an enemy of the Second Amendment, she's an enemy of gun owners.”
Mark’s House district will be eliminated following the state’s most recent round of redistricting, in which Berkshire County lost a seat.
The general election is November 8th.