BEDFORD, N.H. – A senior member of the Massachusetts House Democratic leadership is breaking ranks with the state’s political establishment and backing Bernie Sanders for president over Hillary Clinton, after supporting her 2008 bid.
Michael J. Moran, a Brighton Democrat and one of Speaker Robert DeLeo’s top deputies, said he will campaign Sunday for Sanders, calling him a better general-election candidate than Clinton because of Sanders’s ability to appeal to low-income voters in traditionally Republican states.
The endorsement makes Moran the most senior elected official in the state to endorse the Vermont senator over the former secretary of state.
“In November, if you want to take a shot at a candidate that can build our party on a 50-state strategy where we go into the South and deliver them a message that’s ‘Hey, folks, you’ve been sold a bill of goods by the Republicans,’ I think we’ve got the candidate to do it,” Moran said. “You will see some Democratic Party growth in areas we’ve never seen it before.”
“There is a big, big difference between these two candidates, at least for me there is,” Moran said Saturday, pointing to Sanders’s more liberal stances on the death penalty and single-payer health care and his long record on income inequality. “He has staked out a position on a lot of issues that I know I care about, and I would suspect a lot of Democrats in this state care about, too.”
A former political consultant who has been in the House since 2005, Moran said he arrived at his decision about a month ago and reached out to Sanders’s state director, Paul Feeney, about two weeks ago.
“I held off and held off and then after the debates started to roll, it really became clear to me and I reached out to the campaign,” he said.
Moran said he thought that Sanders could appeal to Republican-leaning states with “incredibly high poverty rates” where, he said, the GOP effort to broaden its appeal in the wake of two straight presidential election losses has failed.
“How’d that work out? They have 15 candidates in the race that are pro-death penalty, anti-woman, and anti-immigrant. They have done a horrible, horrible job of repackaging themselves,” Moran said.
The state’s Democratic power structure is nearly monolithic in its support of Clinton and top elected officials have been sending hundreds of volunteers the last several weekends to New Hampshire to campaign on her behalf.
Moran said he had volunteered to help the campaign organize its get-out-the-vote effort in Boston for the March 1 primary.