Westhampton Dems to hold caucus Thursday

By BERA DUNAU

Staff Writer

Published: 03-09-2022 9:29 PM

WESTHAMPTON — Town Democrats will hold a party caucus Thursday, giving them a voice in the selection of candidates for governor and other statewide offices. However, eight other Hampshire County communities will not be sending caucus delegates to the state party’s June convention.

“The deadline has passed,” said Gus Bickford, chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.

Democrats had until March 7 to reach out to Bickford to organize a caucus in their communities. Democrats in Cummington, Hadley, Hatfield, Plainfield, Chesterfield, Goshen, Huntington and Ware will not be sending caucus delegates to this year’s convention, which will take place virtually and in person in Worcester on June 3 and June 4.

“That’s a glass half empty, glass half full question,” Bickford said, when asked about the towns’ Democratic parties not sending caucus delegates.

On the one hand, Bickford said there will be a significant number of caucus delegates coming from Hampshire County. On the other hand, he said more work needs to be done.

Additionally, Bickford said “there is still a great deal of time to organize these communities” to turn out votes for the general election in November.

Westhampton’s Democratic caucus will take place at 7 p.m. at 1 Stage Road and virtually. It’s open to all Democrats who were 16 years old by Feb. 4, and those interested in registering for the caucus virtually can do so at bit.ly/3vQlHJu. One delegate and one alternate will be selected at Westhampton’s caucus.

More than 80% of delegates at the state convention come from caucuses. However, members of underrepresented groups, the LGBTQ and disabled communities can still apply to be add-on delegates, regardless of where they live, and can do so at bit.ly/3HRJ084.

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The convention determines which candidates make the Democratic primary ballot for statewide elections, with candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor, treasurer and receiver-general, and secretary of the commonwealth needing 15% of delegates to make the primary ballot.

“The 15% rule is what gives the rural communities the most leverage,” said Matt Barron, the former chairman of the Chesterfield Democratic Town Committee.

Barron resigned from his position in Chesterfield, and from the Democratic Party, in 2017 in response to what he identified as failures of the party to reach out to rural voters in Massachusetts and nationwide.

In an interview, Barron pointed to the party’s 2014 gubernatorial candidate, Martha Coakley, and what he called her failure to campaign for the votes of blue rural Massachusetts.

“She underperformed,” Barron said. “She should have piled up the votes in these towns.”

He also noted that Coakley lost by a small margin — around 40,000 votes.

“She could have made that up with a little bit of effort,” Barron said.

Barron, who is now unenrolled, said that organizing a town Democratic Committee in the commonwealth requires three Democrats.

“It’s not rocket science,” he said. “You contact registered Democrats.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.]]>