Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

This #GivingTuesday, whatever is your first priority, your second priority has to be independent media.

2021 has been one of the most dangerous and difficult years for independent journalism that we’ve ever seen. Our democracy is facing serial existential threats including the climate emergency, vaccine apartheid amid deadly pandemic, a global crisis for biodiversity, reproductive freedoms under assault, rising authoritarianism worldwide, and corporate-funded corruption of democracy that run beneath all of this. Giving Tuesday is a critical opportunity to make sure our journalism remains funded so that we can stay focused on all your priority issues. Please contribute today to keep Common Dreams alive and growing.

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

Alex Morse

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse speaks to supporters at a post-election gathering in Holyoke after his loss in a bid to unseat Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, September 1, 2020. (Photo: NH Gazette/Kevin Gutting)

'Coordinated Homophobic Attack' on Alex Morse Denounced as Progressive Challenger Falls Short of Ousting Corporate Rep. Richard Neal

"We're not done yet," said Morse, who slammed Neal for raking in money from corporations that are "exploiting the working class people of this community and of this country."

Jake Johnson

After progressive challenger Alex Morse fell short of ousting powerful corporate-backed Rep. Richard Neal in the Democratic primary for Massachusetts' 1st congressional district on Tuesday, LGBTQ advocates decried the "coordinated homophobic attack" against Morse—reportedly orchestrated by state party leaders—that came to dominate the final stage of the race as the incumbent's lead in the polls began to slip.

"The efforts to sensationalize and weaponize Alex's sexual orientation certainly influenced the outcome of this race, but the backlash it engendered should give pause to those considering similar tactics in the future," said Annise Parker, president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, which endorsed Morse. "We are grateful Alex stayed in the race and took the body blows necessary to expose the double standards too often placed on LGBTQ candidates."

"We ran against one of the most powerful Democrats over the last 14 months who had access to millions and millions of dollars, the vast majority from corporations."
—Alex Morse, Holyoke mayor

Morse, the openly gay mayor of Holyoke, spent much of his post-election speech Tuesday night condemning a "broken" federal government that fails to guarantee healthcare as a human right while spending trillions on war and a Democratic establishment bankrolled by corporations guilty of "exploiting the working class people of this community and of this country." Morse also hinted at a possible second run for Neal's House seat in 2022, declaring, "We're not done yet."

"We ran against one of the most powerful Democrats—not just [any] Democrat, one of the most powerful incumbents in Washington—over the last 14 months who had access to millions and millions of dollars, the vast majority from corporations," said Morse, alluding to Neal's status as the top recipient of corporate PAC money in all of Congress, Republican or Democrat. "Corporations that aren't looking out for all of you... Big pharmaceutical companies that are making you pay egregious amounts of money for insulin, for medication in this country."

"This is who funds our congressman right here in western Massachusetts," Morse continued, also mentioning the healthcare lobby and the fossil fuel industry, both of which are major donors to Neal, who late last year helped tank legislation aimed at ending the scourge of surprise medical billing.

At the tail-end of his remarks, Morse condemned the "coordinated political attack" against him that "goes all the way up to Washington, D.C, Congressman Neal, the people around him, the Massachusetts Democratic Party, corporations that invested millions of dollars in attack ads over the weekend"—a reference to a spot from the Democratic PAC American Working Families that was widely denounced as homophobic.

"This isn't just about me," said Morse. "We have to send a message loud and clear that these kind of tactics in our communities are unacceptable."

Watch Morse's full speech:

Early last month, shortly before early voting began in the state primary, the College Democrats of Massachusetts released a letter accusing Morse of inappropriate sexual relations with college students, none younger than 18 years old. The letter alleged that Morse, who previously worked as an adjunct professor at UMass Amherst, used "College Democrats events to meet college students and add them on Instagram," among other vague accusations.

In response to the letter, which was immediately met with skepticism by many progressives, Morse said "every relationship I've had has been consensual" but apologized to anyone he "made feel uncomfortable."

"I will not apologize," Morse added, "for living out of the closet, for going on dates, and having consensual conversations."

Later reporting by The Intercept revealed the extent to which the College Democrats' letter was a product of coordination with the Massachusetts Democratic Party. According to The Intercept, state party leaders "connected the students with attorneys: among them was the powerful state party figure and attorney Jim Roosevelt, who worked with the college group on a letter alleging Morse behaved inappropriately."

In a statement late Tuesday, Justice Democrats—a progressive advocacy group that endorsed and remained supportive of Morse throughout the campaign—slammed the "manufactured scandal" targeting the progressive challenger who ran on a platform that included Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.

"While national and local media—particularly local television media—covered the initial allegations, there was little subsequent coverage of the investigative reporting that exposed the political hit job," the group noted. "Neal's backers even claimed to 'accidentally' release an ad the weekend before Election Day attacking Morse over the allegations."

Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, said that despite Morse's loss, he emerges from the race "as an inspiration for his community who overcame a culture of fear instilled by the incumbent and desperate, manufactured attacks" while "Neal walks away damaged and vulnerable."

"Taking on Neal was always going to be our biggest battle," said Rojas. "He's the number one recipient of corporate PAC donations in all of Congress and wields an enormous amount of power over elected officials, labor unions, and community organizations as Ways and Means chair."

Parker of the LGBTQ Victory Fund said that "while Alex's loss is disappointing, it proved our community and our allies can respond forcefully in exposing the dog whistles and stereotypes that too often haunt LGBTQ candidates."

"We will not allow attacks on LGBTQ candidates to go unanswered during the final two months of this election cycle," said Parker.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Omar Hangs Up After Boebert Uses Call to Double Down on 'Outright Bigotry and Hate'

"Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments."

Jessica Corbett ·


Win for Alabama Workers as NLRB Orders New Union Vote After Amazon's Alleged Misconduct

A union leader said the decision confirmed that "Amazon's intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace."

Jessica Corbett ·


'For the Sake of Peace,' Anti-War Groups Demand Biden Return to Nuclear Deal With Iran

"It's time to put differences aside and return to the Iran nuclear deal," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'That's for Them to Decide': UK Secretary Rebuked for Claiming Vaccine Patent Waiver Won't Be 'Helpful' to Global Poor

One U.K. lawmaker asked when the government would "start putting the need to end this pandemic in front of the financial interests of Big Pharma?"

Andrea Germanos ·


Shell Slammed for Plan to Blast South African Coastline for Oil and Gas During Whale Season

"We cannot allow climate criminals, like Shell, to plunder in the name of greed," said Greenpeace.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo