Progressive mayor launches primary challenge to top Ways and Means Democrat

Alex Morse, the 30-year-old mayor of Holyoke, Mass., announced a primary challenge to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealDemocrats urge administration to automatically issue coronavirus checks to more people One year in, Democrats frustrated by fight for Trump tax returns Pelosi forms House committee to oversee coronavirus response MORE (D-Mass.), a 30-year-incumbent, on Monday.

In his announcement video, Morse said that Neal has lacked urgency to push progressive ideas in his powerful seat.

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“There's an urgency to this moment in Massachusetts’s 1st District and our country, and that urgency is not matched by our current representative in Congress,” Morse said in a video announcing his candidacy. 

"We need new leadership that understands that we can no longer settle for small, incremental and compromising progress. We need to be on offense. We need to be fighting for something, not just against."

Neal, 70, has been criticized by progressives for not taking aggressive enough steps to acquire President TrumpDonald John TrumpCampaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis Outgoing inspector general says Trump fired him for carrying out his 'legal obligations' Trump hits Illinois governor after criticism: 'I hear him complaining all the time' MORE's tax returns.

He has also taken flak for opposing initiating impeachment proceedings and "Medicare for All."

Morse, Holyoke’s youngest and first openly gay mayor, highlighted his work to revitalize the city and promised to take no corporate PAC money for his campaign.

Neal has been relatively unchallenged during his 30 years representing Massachusetts's 1st District. In 2018 he defeated a primary challenger 70 percent to 29 percent.

However, there is precedent for primary upsets in the state — in 2018, Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyMaryland Legislative Black Caucus pushes for state to release racial breakdown of coronavirus impact Pressley experiencing flu-like symptoms, being tested for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill MORE (D-Mass.) defeated 20-year incumbent Rep. Michael CapuanoMichael (Mike) Everett CapuanoInside the progressive hunt for vulnerable House Democrats Progressive mayor launches primary challenge to top Ways and Means Democrat Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm MORE (D) in Boston.