Veteran Congressman Richard Neal, the powerful chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, won the Democratic primary in the Massachusetts 1st House District, beating back an energetic challenge from Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.
Less than two hours after the polls closed Tuesday night, the Associated Press declared Neal the winner.
"It looks like a resounding victory this evening," Neal said.
Neal addressed a group of about 50 cheering supporters who gathered in the large concourse of Union Station in Springfield – the location where Neal launched his political career when he announced his first campaign for City Council in 1977. Decades later, as a congressman, he was able to earmark federal money for a $100 million restoration and redevelopment of Union Station.
"I delivered and my intention is to keep delivering," said Neal.
Through a relentless barrage of television and digital ads over the last several months, Neal’s campaign stressed his deep roots in Springfield and his commitment to traditional Democratic policies and programs, especially Social Security and Medicare.
"I won again tonight with working class Democrats," said Neal.
Neal benefited from a large voter turnout in his home city, where he beat Morse by a nearly 2-1 margin. He did well throughout the large district, racking up big wins in places like Chicopee, Agawam, Pittsfield, Westfield, Longmeadow, and even managed to narrowly beat Morse in Holyoke.
"So, let me thank the people of the 1st Congressional District again tonight and I want to thank the people of Holyoke, Massachusetts tonight for giving me a victory," Neal said at the end of his brief speech.
With no Republican qualifying for the November ballot, Neal is all but assured of reelection to a 17th term.
"Let us look forward," said Neal. "We must bring this pandemic under control and pass legislation that rescues the health and prosperity of this country. We will put legislation behind the powerful words that recognize racial and economic disparities that still confront America. We must address concentrated wealth in this country and level the playing field."
State Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, the Springfield Democrat who is chairman of the Black and Latino Caucus on Beacon Hill, endorsed Neal and celebrated his victory Tuesday. He said Springfield benefits greatly by having someone of Neal’s stature in Washington.
" It is the relationships that can bring about financial resources, economic and social justice, and health care resources to people in the Black and brown communities that are disproportionately impacted by COVID," Gonzalez said in an interview.
Morse portrayed Neal as a Washington insider, beholden to corporate interests, and out of touch with his constituents. The challenger’s campaign was backed by national progressive groups that were looking to take down another established House member.
Speaking with reporters after he voted Tuesday morning, Neal downplayed the success progressive insurgents have had in elections.
"The press has created a national narrative about these insurgent campaigns that is not backed up by the evidence," said Neal.
He said that in two election cycles, five incumbants have been defeated by insurgent challengers.
"The press would have you believe there is this movement that is sweeping the nation, and the evidence does not bare it out." said Neal.
Two other incumbent members of Congress from Massachusetts fended off challenges from the left. U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton won 77 percent of the vote against two opponents in the 6th Congressional District and in the 8th District, Congressman Stephen Lynch got 67 percent of the vote to beat a primary challenger.