PITTSFIELD — After a contentious Democratic primary season, elected officials urged unity Wednesday as the party pushes to flip the Senate and elect Joe Biden as president.
"No matter how passionate you are about the primary candidate that each of us [supported], it's time to come together. The stakes cannot be higher this year," said state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, during a news conference organized by the Berkshire Democratic Brigades.
A long line of speakers echoed that message. And for many, volunteering and organizing will feature prominently on any path to Democratic success.
"It's when young people mobilize, change happens and big action gets put on the agenda," said state Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield. "And when progressive activists get mobilized, we see turnouts like we've never seen before in this commonwealth."
Speaking on behalf of himself and U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, whom Hinds had endorsed when Kennedy challenged U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, Hinds said it was "an exciting time to be standing behind Senator Markey." He called his support for Kennedy "a deeply personal choice" but said Markey will "stand up for the progressive values that we all cherish and hold dearly."
Farley-Bouvier, who spoke for herself and for Markey, hailed the youth-led organizing efforts in Markey's primary campaign as a blueprint for Democrats to follow for the Nov. 3 general election.
"Right now, where we are, we can make a difference in the whole country by getting involved in these campaigns," Farley-Bouvier said, calling on people to sign up to volunteer through berkshirebrigades.com to support Biden's campaign in New Hampshire and Sara Gideon's bid to defeat Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in Maine. "Each and every one of us has that obligation."
Hinds also expressed hope that lessons could be taken from Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Richard Neal for the 1st Congressional District seat.
"Having Alex Morse here is also exciting — someone else who's also put up an incredible fight, who's also the future of our party," said Hinds, who endorsed Neal in the primary.
Morse, the mayor of Holyoke, said uniting as a party should not come at the expense of holding Democrats accountable.
"While I support Joe Biden, I support Ed Markey, I support Democrats up and down the ballot," Morse said. "It's incredibly important that we continue to elevate our voices to make sure that when Democrats are in power, they're actually using their power for everyday people, not for corporate and special interests."
Morse made no mention in his speech of Neal, who is not facing a Republican opponent.
Dennis Powell, president of the NAACP's Berkshire branch and a member of the Pittsfield School Committee, said unity should be a goal for not only Democrats, but the community as a whole.
"We've got to make that effort to make sure that everybody comes to the table, everybody's voice gets heard," Powell said. "That's what a community is all about."
Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard, Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington and Register of Deeds Maria Ziemba also spoke at the conference. Lee Harrison, a Berkshire Democratic Brigades co-founder, spoke representing Neal, and state Reps. John Barrett III, D-North Adams, William ""Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, and Paul Mark, D-Peru, did not attend but sent statements.
Berkshire Democratic Brigades co-founder Sherwood Guernsey, a former state representative, moderated the conference, which was staged outside Guernsey's law firm.
"I want to emphasize that for everybody, what everybody's been saying up here about the need to vote and unite, will not happen unless people volunteer," Guernsey said in closing. "You can do a lot just from your bedroom and your kitchen. Please, we need everybody to volunteer if we're going to win this November."
Danny Jin, a Report for America corps member, is The Eagle's Statehouse news reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @djinreports on Twitter and 413-496-6221.