Alex Morse, the gay candidate challenging a powerful incumbent in the Democratic primary for a Massachusetts congressional seat, has received the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's political action committee.
Morse announced the endorsement from Ocasio-Cortez's Courage to Change Tuesday via Twitter. He also released the following statement, according to The New York Times: "When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took on her own entrenched incumbent in 2018, she changed public service for the better, further inspiring me and so many others to fight for our districts and empower those who have long been forgotten. I am honored to have the congresswoman's Courage to Change in our corner, and it will be the honor of my life to bring the people alongside me to Washington."
Morse is seeking the U.S. House seat from Massachusetts's First Congressional District, located in the western part of the state. He is challenging Richard Neal, who has held the seat since 1989 and has been an LGBTQ+ ally, but Morse says Neal has ignored the needs of the district and is too cozy with corporate interests. Neal is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, one of the chamber's most powerful committees. The district is heavily Democratic, so the winner of the primary, to be held September 1, will most likely win the general election in November.
In 2018, Ocasio-Cortez, who has become one of the leading progressive voices in Congress, unseated longtime incumbent Joseph Crowley in the Democratic primary and went on to win the general election.
In the 2020 race, her PAC has endorsed a handful of congressional candidates, including Jamaal Bowman, who defeated longtime incumbent Eliot Engel in the Democratic primary in New York's 16th Congressional District. Another, Marie Newman, defeated Dan Lipinski, one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, in the primary in a Chicago-area district. Lipinski was slow to embrace the Equality Act and even at one point supported "license to discriminate" legislation. Their districts are also largely Democratic.
Another out candidate she has endorsed is Georgette Gomez, who is running for the House in California's 53rd Congressional District. Gomez, currently president of the San Diego City Council, would be the first Latina lesbian in Congress. She will face fellow Democrat Sara Jacobs, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton, in the general election because of California's "top two" primary system, in which candidates from all parties run against each other in the primary and the top two finishers, regardless of party, advance to the general election. The incumbent in their district, Democrat Susan Davis, is not seeking reelection.
Morse, the 31-year-old mayor of Holyoke, has recently had to weather accusations of sexual impropriety made by the College Democrats of Massachusetts and two of its campus chapters. The groups said he used his position as a part-time lecturer at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to have sexual and romantic relationships with students. Morse said he had met students on dating apps but none of them had been in his classes and that all the relationships were consensual. There have also been allegations that at least one College Democrats official was trying to curry favor with Neal, who has denied any involvement. The Massachusetts Democratic Party plans to conduct an investigation after the primary.