Briefings: Councilor Gomez to Again Contest Hampden Senate Primary…
UPDATED 8:27PM: To include details from Sen. Welch’s end of year campaign finance report.
The Democratic primary ballot in the Greater Springfield area is beginning to look a bit crowded. In addition to races for the Democratic nomination for the US House and Senate, a State Senate contest is set to begin.
Springfield Ward 1 Councilor Adam Gomez will challenge incumbent West Springfield Senator James Welch, who represents the Springfield-anchored Hampden Senate district. The sets up a contrast between Welch, a long-serving but affable pol with deep ties to Westside and Springfield’s establishment and Gomez, who has become among the leaders of the Springfield City Council’s progressive policy push of late.
The Ward 1 Councilor, who just began his third two-year term on the Council, posted informal announcements Monday night on Facebook and Instagram. A person with knowledge of Gomez’s plans confirmed them to WMP&I. Gomez himself had no immediate comment.
Gomez, who represents downtown and the city’s Brightwood and Memorial Square neighborhoods (often collectively known as the North End), briefly ran two years ago before deferring to former city councilor Amaad Rivera. His interest in trying again had been buzzing around City Hall for weeks, but Monday’s social media posts were the first concrete steps he had taken. Gomez’s campaign account is still registered for council elections.
The Hampden Senate District includes West Springfield, Wards 2, 3 and 4 in Chicopee and 2/3 of Springfield, including all or most of Wards 1, 2, 3, 4 and 8 and significant parts of 5 and 6. This includes Chicopee Center and parts of Chicopee Falls and Springfield’s most urban and diverse neighborhoods.
Welch has stared down challenges before. In addition to Rivera, Welch defeated Ward 3 Councilor Melvin Edwards in 2012. He defeated both by significant margins, though Edwards was sidelined late in the campaign following serious injury to his knees.
Still, Welch, who was first elected to the Senate in 2010, should be able to muster considerable financial resources and political resources. He will likely have support from Senate colleague and from high-profile political figures in his native West Springfield and in Springfield. Since 2005, when Welch first became a state rep, he has represented some part of Springfield.
Gomez, who defeated incumbent councilor Zaida Luna in 2015, is not without his noteworthy connections. He has served on the Board of the New North Citizens Council. His father, Gumersindo Gomez, is a prominent veterans activist in Springfield.
A direct comparison of war chests is not yet available. Gomez had a little over $4,400 in his campaign account of as December 31. Legislative candidates did not, until this year, need to report as often as municipal candidates. Welch’s report for the second half of 2019 posted Tuesday, after this story was originally posted. He had just shy of $24,500 as of December 31.
Though not the furthest left state senator in Massachusetts or even the 413, Welch cuts a generally liberal profile. While Gomez does fall to Welch’s left, the councilor may just easily frame his argument around fundamental needs in the district, particularly the inner city. The experience of responding to Ward 1’s constituent issues could feature prominently in his campaign.
This is breaking news and will be updated or supplemented as additional info becomes available.