A progressive Democratic congressional candidate is being accused of having sexual relationships with college students.
Mayor Alex Morse of Holyoke, Massachusetts, who is running against House Ways and Means Chairman Richie Neal to represent Massachusetts’s 1st Congressional District, was barred from speaking at three universities after they accused him of the inappropriate relationships, according to the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. He acknowledged the relations, said they were the result of “poor judgment,” and said every encounter was consensual.
College Democrats of Massachusetts, U-Mass.-Amherst Democrats, and Amherst College Democrats alleged in an email sent earlier this week that the mayor, who was the first openly gay man to serve as the city’s top leader, has been repeatedly using “his platform and taking advantage of his position of power for romantic or sexual gain, specifically toward young students.” It specifically accused him of having “sexual contact” with students at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he is a lecturer on political science.
“Numerous incidents over the course of several years have shown that it is no longer appropriate to encourage interaction between College Democrats and Alex Morse,” they wrote.
Morse defended himself in a letter to the College Democrats.
“I want to be clear that every relationship I’ve had has been consensual. However, I also recognize that I have to be cognizant of my position of power,” he wrote, according to Politico. “Navigating life as both a young gay man and an elected official can be difficult, but that doesn’t excuse poor judgment.”
In a follow-up statement, Morse issued a warning to his opponents who “will be eager to twist this into something it’s not to score political points,” possibly through “negative stereotypes about gay men,” and added, “I will not apologize for living life out of the closet, for going on dates and having consensual conversations.”
Morse is backed by Justice Democrats, a prominent progressive organization dedicated to electing Democrats, even if it means challenging Democratic incumbents. The group helped Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman of New York, and Cori Bush in St. Louis defeat Democratic incumbents in primaries.