Sanders supporters gear up for March 3 primary and beyond

  • Zak Hecht, one of Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution’s coordinators for its Bernie Sanders campaign, organizes volunteers Sunday to knock on the doors of voters in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

Staff Writer
Published: 2/17/2020 9:09:20 PM

GREENFIELD — Sunday marked the first large-scale local campaign event for any presidential candidate in preparation for the March 3 primary election, with about 15 volunteers knocking on doors and handing out pamphlets in support of Bernie Sanders.

The volunteers, coordinated by the Greenfield-based political group Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution (FCCPR), had a goal of covering every house in Greenfield on Sunday.

Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution’s endorsement of Sanders was always likely, but not a totally foregone conclusion. The organization was formed in response to Sanders’ failed 2016 presidential bid, as a way of continuing to advocate for the political changes that Sanders had built his campaign platform on — most prominently, these have to do with curbing the influence of corporations over governments, and taking proactive legal approaches to climate change, said Dave Cohen, a member of FCCPR’s coordinating committee.

“What we’ve done is to try to figure out how to apply that locally,” Cohen said.

When the endorsement was decided, at the organization’s Feb. 9 meeting, Elizabeth Warren was also discussed, Cohen said, but the vote was “overwhelmingly in favor of Bernie.”

Sanders’ official campaign is not directly involved with Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution. This summer, the official campaign began efforts to engage local organizers. Zak Hecht, who had recently moved to Greenfield, volunteered. Hecht and other local organizers get some basic training online, and then their events are listed on Sanders’ official website.

Because of this, events in Greenfield may draw volunteers from other surrounding areas. On Sunday there were several volunteers from Amherst, Northampton and their surrounding areas, and some from Vermont and New Hampshire who had been active in the recent New Hampshire primary election, Hecht said.

Franklin County’s Democratic constituency favored Sanders strongly in 2016. Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution reports that Sanders won 72 percent of the vote in the 2016 Democratic primary election.

This year, although the Democratic field is more crowded than in 2016, Sanders still seems to be popular, Hecht said.

He guessed that there is some natural sympathy in Franklin County toward Sanders’ platform. For one thing, he said, it is the poorest county in Massachusetts, and Sanders describes himself as a socialist.

Chorryi Chin, a student at University of Massachusetts Amherst, said he saw Sanders as the ideologically strongest candidate, compared to the more “centrist” Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg.

“He has so much backbone,” Chin said.

“I see him as a kind of Lincoln figure,” Hecht said. “He’s honest, he doesn’t think he’s better than anyone, he doesn’t isolate himself or talk down.”

Perhaps equally relevant, or perhaps even more relevant, is Sanders’ potential to beat Donald Trump in the general election.

“I think people see this as a hugely important election,” Cohen said. “We have these clearly fascistic trends. So defeating Trump becomes important.”

Cohen and Hecht both said that most Democrats who support Sanders now would probably just as well vote for a different Democratic nominee in the November general election.

“People are really sick of Trump, and just want to get rid of him,” Hecht said. “People are willing to vote for anyone.” But, he added, “Bernie, I think, is the only one who can beat Trump.”

Cohen and Hecht also both said that Michael Bloomberg appears to be the strongest challenger against Sanders for the party’s nomination. Both also said they disliked Bloomberg.

“There’s a real problem if we’re talking about someone like Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who bought his way into the election,” Cohen said.

“He’s very far from traditional Democratic values,” Hecht said. “I don’t think there’s any chance Bloomberg could win a general election. I don’t think there’s much chance he could win a primary either.”

Reach Max Marcus at
or 413-930-4231.

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