Gubernatorial Candidate Berwick Makes Primary Push in Pittsfield
By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
Donald Berwick personally thanked supporters for their volunteer efforts in this last weekend before the primary.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It was April 2013 when Donald Berwick first came to Pittsfield asking for support in his bid for governor.
Since then he's laid the ground work and earned enough support at the Democratic convention to stay on the ballot. This weekend it all comes to fruition — or, as he says, "it's game time."
"This has been an amazing week. You can feel people who have not been paying attention to the race turning their attention to us. We're emphasizing the distinctive differences between me and the other candidates," Berwick said.
"I am the only candidate committed to single-payer health care, which is Medicare for all and is a major step forward for the state. I am the only candidate opposing casinos. I am the only candidate speaking with clarity what we need to do for hunger and homelessness."
Berwick is hoping for the Democratic nomination and a chance to face off against the presumed Republican candidate Charlie Baker. Berwick was one of the first candidates to staff Western Massachusetts offices and the only one to open an office in Pittsfield for volunteers helping with the final push. In the month of August alone, the campaign has raised about a quarter of a million dollars, he said.
In the next few days, 80,000 doors will be knocked on and thousands of phone calls will be make from volunteers telling residents why they should vote for the doctor.
"I think this state stands a chance of being the kind of example the country needs and it's not going to happen with the regular politicians. It just isn't. We've seen too much of it. It has to be someone coming in with a different background," Berwick said.
Berwick comes from outside of the political sphere. He started as a pediatrician and then formed the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a nonprofit organization that has grown to have hundreds of employees. He got his first taste of public life as a presidential appointee to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, where he was tasked with implementing a majority of the Affordable Care Act.
"My whole life has been about solutions," Berwick said in a rally speech to the Pittsfield volunteers on Saturday.
He says his competitors Martha Coakley and Steve Grossman won't take the bold steps he is willing to take. It is those difference Berwick says he is trying to show voters before Tuesday's primary. He says he is the best candidate for election in November because he makes decisive statements.
"The insider baseball, the lobbyist influence, the back slapping is just too great. It is paralyzing us," Berwick said. "It is one of the reasons, as opposed to my opponents, to speak out with real strength on issues that are hard to address but we've got to address — single-payer health care for the commonwealth."
He later added, "the core idea is that if you really want solutions and problem solving in the governor's office, I am your candidate. I don't owe lobbyist favors. I didn't pat anyone's back on Beacon Hill," Berwick said.
Ann Berwick is attending some 20 campaign rallies this weekend with her husband.
Sherwood Guernsey, former state representative, says he'll be voting for Berwick based on his values.
"I'm attracted to Don because he understands that it is not just one class. It is not about political interest. It isn't about any of that. What are your values?" Guernsey said. "Here is a guy who stood up for us. He didn't have to do this. He is not a lifelong politician."
Berwick is also opposing casinos, citing an array of negative affects they bring to the economy — a stance neither of the other candidates have taken.
In speaking to the volunteer base on Saturday, Berwick pulled a note from his back pocket from a homeless artist with the words "remember me" on it. He told his staff that he's heard that statement at nearly every campaign stop. And Berwick says he won't just be here asking for votes before the election but he'll be back after.
"I believe in regional equity. The concern people have about being forgotten, they don't have to worry about that for me," Berwick said.
Berwick's wife, Ann, appeared with the candidate Saturday.
"He is just as warm, honest and compassionate and frankly inspiring as he appears," Ann Berwick told the supporters.
She later said, "there are two kinds of voters in this election, those who support Don and those who haven't met him."
The Road To The Primary:
Ex-Medicare Chief Mulling Run for Governor 04-09-2013 - Former Medicare chief Dr. Donald Berwick was in Pittsfield on Tuesday to introduce himself and listen to Berkshire Brigade members as he 'strongly considers' a run for...
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