Partisans predict repeats in Franklin County: Sanders and Trump

  • Rachael Kashner and Staci Miner, of Greenfield, chant in support of Bernie Sanders and wave to passersby on the corner of Silver Street and Lenox Avenue as they come and go from Greenfield High School to vote in the 2016 Massachusetts presidential primary. STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • Franktinus Stuitje and John Bailey, both of Greenfield, cross the intersection of Bank Row and Main Street in Greenfield on the day of the 2016 Massachusetts presidential primary. STAFF FILE PHOTO/MATT BURKHARTT

  • Supporters of Hillary Clinton stand with signs outside Greenfield High School as voters come and go from the polls for the 2016 Massachusetts presidential primary. Franklin County backed Bernie Sanders, although Clinton won the state. STAFF FILE PHOTO/MATT BURKHARTT

Staff Writer
Published: 2/27/2020 9:56:15 PM

This is the first story in our coverage of Tuesday’s presidential primary election. More stories will be published in the Saturday and Monday editions.

Franklin County and the North Quabbin region might be working on a sequel to the feature film that was the 2016 Massachusetts presidential primaries.

The most rural county in the state selected Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as its Democratic candidate of choice, though the state’s primary votes went to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and tapped eventual President Donald J. Trump on the Republican ballot.

Sanders notched about three times as many votes as Clinton in Franklin County and the North Quabbin region. In Greenfield, Franklin County’s largest municipality, Sanders dominated Clinton with 3,003 votes to her 1,142. Trump got 438 Greenfield votes, besting Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 278 and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s 221. At the state level, Trump crushed competitors, earning 49.3 percent of the vote. Kasich got 18 percent and Rubio received 17.8 percent.

For Republicans, Massachusetts has 41 delegates. The state has 114 Democratic delegates, 23 of which are unpledged delegates, who are free to back whichever candidate they want.

Ferd Wulkan, with Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution, an organization that fights for progressive causes, said he thinks the county will vote to nominate the same major party candidates this time around. He said Sanders and Trump both talk an anti-establishment game.

“Trump did that in a right wing, populist sort of way and Bernie does that in a progressive way that unites rather than divides,” Wulkan said.

The 71-year-old said there are a few reasons he supports Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist.

“One has to do with his policies, which I think are exactly what we need in this time, and that’s everything from free college tuition, single-payer health care, a clear understanding of what foreign policy should look like,” he said. “But that by itself wouldn’t be enough. I do believe he is the candidate most likely to defeat Donald Trump.”

Wulkan said young people are drawn to Sanders, though the senator has voters of all ages. He said he recently canvassed a low-income senior housing project and found tremendous support for Sanders.

David Lewis, chair of the Greenfield Republican Town Committee, said there are some anti-Trump dissenters within the ranks, but he and most of his colleagues support the president’s reelection.

“I think he’s done a lot for the country that hasn’t been properly reported,” he said. “I think Democrats are quite upset that he’s doing stuff that they haven’t.”

Lewis, who has been on the Republican Town Committee for about 12 years, said he believes Trump will get even more primary votes than he did in 2016, thanks to a healthy economy and public frustration stemming from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and “the impeachment fiasco that we just went through.”

Lewis said he thinks Sanders will win Franklin County, but does not see him winning the national Democratic nomination.

“I think he’s going to tank in the South and I think it’s going to be up for grabs,” he said. “I don’t know who they’re going to wind up with.”

But Lewis has a simple philosophy for his party entering the election season.

“If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” he said.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or
413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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