Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, who lost his congressional bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Richard Neal earlier this year, will not seek re-election to his city post after a decade in office.
Morse, currently in his fourth term as mayor, made the announcement Tuesday morning.
“When I was first elected, I expressed the desire to serve for ten years at most – enough time, I thought, to get some key goals across the finish line, and to secure a legacy we could be proud of,” Morse said in a statement released through his city office and his campaign email list. “So, with a municipal election year almost upon us, I feel it’s important to let you know that I will not be seeking re-election.”
Morse said he intends to use his remaining year in office to help navigate the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — Holyoke was one of 81 cities and towns in the state’s high-risk “red” zone for transmission last week — and “to leave the city in the strongest possible position for my successor.”
Morse, now 31, became the youngest and first openly gay mayor in Holyoke’s history when he was elected at just 22 years old.
He gained widespread attention this past year as he waged a primary challenge against Neal, the powerful House Ways and Means chairman, drawing support from progressive and LGBTQ groups in Massachusetts and nationwide.
But his underdog bid took a knock in the weeks before the Sept. 1 state election when a group of college Democrat groups came forward with allegations of inappropriate behavior against him that prompted an investigation at UMass Amherst, where Morse was previously an adjunct instructor, and later of the state Democratic Party’s involvement in surfacing the claims.
Last month, an internal investigation found Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman Gus Bickford violated party bylaws by advising students to send a letter to Morse detailing their allegations and “encouraging” students to talk to a reporter on the record about them “before the election,” according to the investigation by former state Sen. Cheryl Jacques. Bickford was subsequently re-elected to his post for another four years.
Morse previously said the internal investigation makes it “clear that the Massachusetts Democratic Party inappropriately interfered to harm my campaign for Congress and aid Congressman Neal’s re-election effort.” He lost the primary 59% to 41%.
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