Who's backing who for president among local elected officials?

US Rep. Ayanna Pressley, left, is backing Sen. Elizabeth Warren in her campaign for president. She was on stage with Warren and other supporters in Concord, NH last weekend. Photo courtesy Warren campaign

On March 3, voters in Massachusetts and fifteen other states will head to the polls to vote for a candidate in national primary elections. Here in Boston, some political leaders have already made their preference known, with hometown candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren the most common choice, while others are holding off on publicly backing a candidate.

US Rep. Ayanna Pressley was out early and often for her top choice— Sen. Warren. The first-term Congresswoman announced her endorsement of Warren last November and has become a key surrogate for her in early primary states.

In a January interview with the Reporter, she explained why Warren is her top pick.

“She’s my senator, she’s my friend, she’s my partner,” Pressley said. “I’m honored to be her co-chair. And I want to make something abundantly clear. I didn’t give Elizabeth Warren anything. She earned my endorsement because I paid attention and I watched the campaign she was running.”

At-large Boston City Councillor Annissa Essaibi-George also said Warren’s potential to “get new voters engaged” makes her the best Democrat for the nomination.

“National elections are a way to get people engaged because unfortunately, compared to local elections, the turnout is much higher in these presidential primaries and elections,” said Essaibi-George, “This is an opportunity to spread the word and engage new voters and those who aren’t regularly involved in the local elections. I’m hopeful and excited about the next couple of weeks.” 

Pressley and Essaibi-George have been joined in their support for Warren by Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins, who called Warren a “champion and leader” for the Democratic party. Tompkins said his decision was influenced by his work on her 2012 Senate campaign.

“There were a lot of women and folk of color in leadership positions who had some decisive say in what was going on-- and that appealed to me greatly,” said Tompkins. “And that’s the case with this campaign— she’s done it again.” 

Tompkins said that voters are frustrated by conversations that doubt the electability of a woman in a national race. 

“People do believe that we need to stop this conversation about electability, about a woman being elected president. It’s really a nonsensical conversation, frankly. Elizabeth is just as sharp, just as smart, just as forthright in what she is trying to accomplish as any male that’s in the race,” said Tompkins, “People have shared with me that they think this is ridiculous, and I share that. It’s ridiculous.” 

State Rep. Dan Cullinane, who represents parts of Dorchester and Mattapan in the 12th Suffolk district, has also been with Warren “since day one,” he said.

Warren finished fourth in the nation’s first primary on Tuesday in New Hampshire, a result that the candidate herself has termed “disappointing.” Sen. Sanders topped the Democratic field in NH, followed by Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.

State Rep. Dan Hunt threw his support behind former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick last Friday and spent the weekend in New Hampshire helping the Patrick team in the Granite State. Patrick suspended his campaign on Wednesday, but Hunt said that he hopes that the governor will stay in the mix on the national stage this year.

"He's a young, vibrant and proven progressive leader and I think he is potentially a vice-presidential pick for whoever becomes the nominee," said Hunt.

Former vice-president Joe Biden has earned the public endorsement of City Councillor Frank Baker, according to a statement from the Biden campaign released on Jan. 31. US Rep. Steven Lynch backed Biden last December and has been on the stump for him in New Hampshire.

“Biden appeals to many different types of voters,” Lynch explained in an interview with WBZ. “He’s a moderate Democrat. I think he brings a lot of independence into the camp, this is a big-tent Democratic Party and I think Joe Biden does that. I think he’s blue collar, that’s been his character and his priority.”

Other local elected officials— notably Mayor Martin Walsh, Sen. Nick Collins, At-Large Boston City Councillor Julia Mejia of Dorchester, District 4 Councillor Andrea Campbell— have not weighed in on the presidential race yet.

State Rep. Russell Holmes is also holding off on making an endorsement, he said.

“I haven’t landed yet on who I’m going to support,” Holmes told the Reporter last week. “I have two friends running — Patrick and Warren— but neither has come to the place in the polls where I’m ready to get involved.”

Holmes suspects many of his constituents will likely support Warren, Patrick or Joe Biden. But, he added, many are also— like him— waiting to see results in early states before Super Tuesday.

“A real sentiment that I’ve heard is that many folks in the neighborhood are frustrated by what happened in Iowa, and [see] the caucus process as not being democratic. That motivated my neighborhood, it was a civic lesson. They want to move away from the caucuses and feel that Iowa and New Hampshire are clearly not inclusive enough.”

Also undecided—at least publicly‚ is Governor Charlie Baker, who had not made an endorsement ahead of Tuesday’s primaries in New Hampshire. Baker learned the ropes of state government while serving under former Gov. William Weld, who is the lone Republican challenging the incumbent president, Donald J. Trump.

The Democratic ballot in Massachusetts on March 3 will feature 15 candidates, in this order: Deval Patrick, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bennet, Michael R. Bloomberg, Tulsi Gabbard, Cory Booker, Julian Castro, Tom Steyer, Bernie Sanders, Joseph R. Biden, John K. Delaney, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Marianne Williamson.

In Boston, registered voters who would like to vote before March 3 can do so beginning on Feb. 24 at Boston City Hall and at several satellite locations in the neighborhoods beginning on Feb. 25.

In Dorchester, early voting will be available on Thurs., Feb. 27 from 12-8 p.m. at All Saints Church, 209 Ashmont St. and at First Parish Church, 10 Parish St. In Mattapan, voters can fill in their ballot early on Thurs., Feb. 27 at Mildred Ave. Community Center, 5 Mildred Ave. More info is available online at boston.gov/elections.


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