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After 18-Point Loss, What's Next For Alex Morse?

This week, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield, Massachusetts, defeated Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse for the Democratic nomination in the state's 1st Congressional District. With no competition on the ballot in November, Neal is all but assured a 17th term in office.

Outside a Springfield polling place, voter Juan Rivera explained why he picked the incumbent.

"I live in the North End of Springfield and he's been very responsive to us," Rivera said. "Also, he's the chairman of the House Ways and Means [Committee], and I think that he's been responsive to his district."

Neal faced an opponent in Morse who says he raised $2 million and really pushed the congressman on the issues, but the margin was still about 18 percentage points.

"If you were watching the race from the outside, watching national news — I was reading a lot of it on election day — I was thinking, 'Wow. Morse is going to run away with this,'" panelist Carrie Saldo said. "But then obviously I'm reporting from here, and thinking and hearing a very different story."

What's next for Alex Morse? He's 31 years old and still has about a year left on his latest term as Holyoke mayor.

"Morse has to decide whether he's going to run for reelection next year," panelist Matt Szafranski said. "He certainly gave the impression that he might consider running in 2022, but he is young enough that he could just step away from politics for a few years. I mean, people are going to remember him for years to come, and he should have a fundraising base that he can use again in the future."

Another story surrounding Tuesday's primary was turnout. All voters could cast ballots by mail because of the pandemic, and turnout in the Democratic primary in the 1st Congressional District was over 140,000. That far exceeded any congressional primary in western Massachusetts in the last 50 years.

Springfield's overall turnout was about 26%, double that of two years ago.

There were also several state legislative primaries on the ballot. In the Hampden Senate District, which covers parts of Springfield and Chicopee, as well as West Springfield, Springfield City Councilor Adam Gomez upset five-term incumbent Democrat Jim Welch. 

In the 9th Hampden State House District, another Springfield City Councilor, Orlando Ramos, won a three-way Democratic primary for an open seat.

Gomez has no opposition in November, while Ramos will face unenrolled candidate Robert Underwood. In speaking to the The Republican newspaper, both Ramos and Gomez left the door open to staying in the city council for now. 

And as we wrap up our look back at the primaries, Massachusetts U.S. Senator Ed Markey scored a decisive victory over his challenger, Rep. Joe Kennedy III. Markey will face Republican Kevin O'Connor in November. Markey was far behind in the polls at one point.

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