USA

House Ways and Means chair endorses Elizabeth Warren

SPRINGFIELD, MASS. — House Ways and Means chairman Richard Neal endorsed Elizabeth Warren for president on Friday night, giving a boost to his home state senator on the eve of Tuesday’s primary where she is at risk of losing Massachusetts to progressive rival Bernie Sanders.

“Elizabeth Warren is the best candidate to take on Donald Trump on the economy,” Neal said in a statement. “She has spent her life studying why working families can't get ahead and how too many get left behind."

Warren has slipped behind Sanders in recent Massachusetts polls. In October, she held a 20-percentage point lead over Sanders but a poll released Friday shows Warren trailing the Vermont senator by 8 points. Warren has declined to say whether she expects to win her home state on Tuesday.

Neal endorsed Warren the same night Sanders held a rally in Springfield — Neal's hometown — that drew more than 4,000 people. Sanders is making a hard play to beat Warren in her home state, with back to back rallies and a four-day music and canvassing festival. While Sanders swept Western Massachusetts in 2016, he lost the state to Hillary Clinton by a narrow margin.

Beyond his position as the powerful chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Neal is the dean of the Massachusetts congressional delegation and a fixture in the western part of the state. He was the mayor of Springfield in the 1980s and was sworn into Congress in 1989.

In his endorsement, Neal touted Warren's work to create the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, and her record of getting "predatory loans canceled for students in Western Massachusetts."

"Her record of fighting and winning real results makes her the real deal and the right choice for Massachusetts voters on Tuesday," Neal said.

Warren has the backing of the majority of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, and counts Rep. Ayanna Pressley as one of her three national campaign co-chairs. Sen. Ed Markey and Reps. Lori Trahan, Katherine Clark, Jim McGovern and Rep. Joe Kennedy III have held campaign events for Warren in recent weeks. Rep. Seth Moulton, who briefly ran for president, endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden. Rep. Bill Keating does not plan to endorse a candidate.

Neal endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016, and introduced her at a Springfield rally the day before Super Tuesday. Clinton went on to beat Sanders in Springfield with 61 percent of the vote, to his 38 percent. In the general election, Neal traveled to Pennsylvania to stump for Clinton.

A 30-year veteran of Congress, Neal is facing a primary challenge from the progressive and openly gay mayor of Holyoke, Alex Morse.