Around New England

Republican Former Naval Reserves Officer Running Against Richard Neal for Congress

July 29, 2019

A 30-year-old Republican former Naval Reserves officer is planning to challenge U.S. Representative Richard Neal for his western Massachusetts seat in Congress.

John Cain, of Southwick, served in the Naval Reserves for eight years, and now runs a mechanical repair and machine rental business, according to MassLive.com, the web site of the Springfield Republican.

Cain said he plans to emphasis the opioids crisis and skilled workforce training for people who may not be right for college.

Cain’s campaign is just starting, with a fledgling Facebook page.

Cain is a longshot in 2020, but he said he plans to run for the seat again even if he loses next year.

Neal (D-Springfield), 70, is the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Neal is a former mayor of Springfield, the largest city in western Massachusetts. He was first elected to Congress in 1988. He is in his 16th term.

Neal is a liberal. He got a 100 percent rating from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in 2018, and a 90 percent rating from Americans for Democratic Action (a liberal vote-tracking group) in 2017.

Even so, he is getting a primary challenge from his left. Alex Morse, the mayor of Holyoke, is running against Neal in the Democratic primary.

Morse, 30, recalled during his campaign kickoff on July 22 his first run for mayor of Holyoke eight years ago, when he was 22 – saying, according to MassLive.com, that he was told “you are too young, you are too gay, you are too progressive.”

Morse was the first mayor of Massachusetts to endorse legalization of recreational marijuana. He also issued an executive order declaring Holyoke a so-called sanctuary city, in November 2014.

Several veteran liberal Democrats in Congress were defeated in the 2018 Democratic primaries by harder-left challengers — including, in Massachusetts, Michael Capuano, a Somerville Democrat (and former mayor of Somerville) who lost to current U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Dorchester), who at the time was a member of the Boston City Council.

Neal appears to be taking the threat from Morse seriously. Neal attacked Morse on Monday, July 29, noting that public schools in the city are in receivership and even detailing the number of city school committee meetings Morse has not attended, according to New England Public Radio.

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