U.S. Rep. Edward Markey talks with Mayor Daniel Bianchi and Berkshire Brigade member Joyce Wrend after an address at the Itam.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The dean of the state’s congressional delegation asked Berkshire County Democrats on Tuesday to help him move to the U.S. Senate, where he says he can "do more" to support of the Obama agenda.
U.S. Rep. Edward Markey of Malden was hosted at the Itam Lodge by the Berkshire Brigades, the county’s largest Democratic organization, in support of his bid to fill the seat that had been held by John F. Kerry.
Tuesday's reception (postponed because of the Feb. 9 storm) was a who's who of the county's Democratic leaders.
"John Kerry has been a great senator for Massachusetts. Ted Kennedy was a great senator for Massachusetts. Elizabeth Warren is going to be a great senator for Massachusetts.
"And my goal is to go to Washington to be a partner for this next generation,” Markey said to cheers from hundreds gathered at Itam Lounge. "My goal is to go to Washington to fight for the agenda of President Barack Obama as he laid it out in his State of the Union."
Markey advocated for bans on assault weapons, overturning of the Supreme Court's controversial Citizens United decision and the reduction of greenhouse gases. Locally, he boasted of working with the district's former Congressman John Olver and now U.S. Rep. Richard Neal in securing funding to expand broadband access.
While Markey has held a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1976, he calls this election an "historic" one because it will send a message to the rest of the country.
"I've been a great partner with Richie Neal and John Olver over all of these years but I don’t think we want to lose a Senate seat again," said Markey, referring to Republican Scott Brown's win in 2010. "The last time that happened it basically crippled the Obama agenda."
While the 5th District representative took multiple shots at the tea party, he said he recognizes that Congress will not accomplish much without bipartisan collaboration.
State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier is one of many Berkshire County elected officials who attended the event. Others included state Sen. Benjamin Downing, Sheriff Thomas Bowler and Mayors Richard Alcombright and Daniel Bianchi.
“We will have to ensure that ultimately bipartisan agreements are put together. That’s my whole career," he said. "I have dozens of bills that are now law where I worked with Republicans. But if the Tea Party branch wants to fight, well I am willing to fight them."
Particularly, the state has become a leader is green energy and Markey wants to relay "the message" that there is economic benefit in the new technology.
The former chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, he called for laws to further reduce greenhouse emission and increase fuel efficiency. In turn, he sees an explosion of "millions of jobs" and a future of shipping American technology overseas as well as providing "preventative care" for the planet.
"You can't tell the rest of the world to reduce greenhouse gases unless you are a leader," Markey said.
After representing a suburban district for most of his career, the opportunity to represent a rural area has "invigorated" him, calling the Berkshires "one of the most beautiful places in the country."
"I know this is an area that cares passionately about the environment, that cares passionately about broadband being distributed in a way that is universal. But, I also know that there are real issues in economic development and I want to work with the mayors and selectmen out here to make sure we maximize the capacity for these communities to increase their overall economic wellbeing," he said.
He later added, "I am somebody who loves the idea of being able to serve in the Senate for the people of Western Massachusetts. That is why I am running. I had a choice not to run. The only reason why I am running is because I think I can do more through the Senate not just for eastern Massachusetts."
Addressing the most heated debate in Washington, Markey called for a ban on assault weapons and magazines which "have enough ammo to take over a small city."
"We have to protect against guns being sold to those who should not have guns. We should make sure that particular guns are not on the street,” Markey said. "I am not talking about rifles that hunters need. I am not talking about guns that people need that are legally licensed. But, these other weapons, assault weapons, the very name itself tells you it is not something for home use. I want these guns off our streets."
Calling for the repeal of Citizens United, championing a woman’s right to choose, protecting Social Security and Medicaid, providing universal health care, increasing the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and placing an emphasis of science and math education, Markey’s politics fall in line with state Democrats – many of whom are already backing him.
Markey has already reeled in endorsements from Kerry, Vicki Kennedy, the National Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, Attorney General Martha Coakley and state Treasurer Steve Grossman, state House Speaker Robert DeLeo, former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, the National Education Association and the Massachusetts Teachers Association among others.
Markey gave a 15-minute speech asking for the Berkshire Brigade's support on Tuesday.
But the endorsements won’t be enough to win a statewide campaign in a shortened time frame for the special election. Markey said the key to winning will be to get Democrats organized. He is confident that there will be plenty of supporters during the campaign with this the third Senate race in as many years.
“I think it is pretty clear this evening that the Berkshire Brigade is not fatigued at all. You can feel it in the room, there is energy, there is a purpose. I am very confident that not only the voters but the activists will be up ensuring that the message of Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama and Gov. Deval Patrick is heard,” Markey said.
Markey has a law degree from Boston College Law School and worked in a private practice before being elected to the state House of Representatives in 1973.
When Torbert Macdonald died in office in 1976, Markey then went on to defeat Richard Daly. He has not faced a challenger for his seat in the last eight elections.
Editor's Note: There's been some parsing about what Congressman Markey said at Tuesday's rally regarding the Citizen's United Supreme Court decision. Here is the full quote:
I want to go the United States Senate to fight for a constitutional amendment to repeal Citizens United versus the Federal Elections Commission. The whole idea that the Koch brothers or Karl Rove can say we're coming to Massachusetts. That we're coming to any state in the union with unlimited amounts of undisclosed money is a pollution that must be changed and the constitution must be amended. The Dred Scott decision had to be repealed and we have to repeal Citizens United or democracy as we know it will be in a constitutional crisis."