Saturday August 18, 2012

Nestled in a former insurance company suite at 34 North St., in downtown Pittsfield, nearly 50 local Republicans came together Friday evening at the new Berkshire County Republican Association's campaign headquarters.

The event was a social gathering, where like-minded conservatives sipped wine, munched on finger foods, and talked about their political party's prospects heading into the election season.

"This is the most energetic group of people I've seen in the organization," said Rudy Sacco, a former judge and the association's first chairman some 50 years ago.

Pittsfield is known for its liberal mindset, meaning Republicans are clearly in the minority. Still, there are about 10,000 registered Republicans in Berkshire County, according to Jim Bronson, the current chairman for the Berkshire County Republican Association.

"There are a lot more Republicans here than you may think," Bronson said. "We want to show Berkshire County that we're here, and we're active."

The GOP swag covering the windows make the headquarters easy to identify. Throughout this election season, Bronson said the facility will be a hub for locals to watch the televised debates, socialize, and pick up campaign paraphernalia for their party's candidates.

Attendees can grab yard signs supporting Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown who is being challenged by Democrat Elizabeth Warren, or Mike Case, who is running for Governor's Council. His is the only local race in which a Republican candidate is on the ballot. The Governor's Council affirms or denies the Gov. Deval Patrick's appointments.

"I'm going to try and get some balance in the governor's office," Case said, who added that his campaign is "low-key." Case said he believes his experience in Pittsfield law enforcement and the National Guard makes him right for the job.

It was a timely opening for the headquarters, with Re publican nominee Mitt Rom ney having named Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate in the past week.

"He was an excellent choice," said Sheffield resident Brian Levingson. "He's a competent, young, family man."

Even though Romney is the former governor of Mass achusetts, polls show him trailing President Barack Obama in the state.

"I don't think it's out of the question for Massachusetts to vote for a Republican. Look what happened to Scott Brown," said Pittsfield resident Bonnie Burton.

Peter Griftos, the former chairman of the local association, was in attendance to show his support of the Republican party, which hasn't had a majority in Massachusetts in about 50 years, he said.

"I'm hoping America can turn it around, and organizations like this help," he said.