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Briefings: In Week after Mayoral Preliminary, Hurst Racks up Fresh Support…

Adam Gomez Justni Hurst

Gomez and Hurst literally shoulder to shoulder in (early) 2020…and now in 2023, too. (WMP&I)

Springfield City Councilor Justin Hurst has collected several high-profile endorsements since becoming the sole surviving challenger to Mayor Domenic Sarno. After comfortably emerging from last week’s preliminary in second place, Hurst earned the endorsement of two of his challengers. However, a more significant boost may have come another former colleague, State Senator Adam Gomez.

Gomez, perhaps the most coveted Springfield endorsement this side of Richie Neal, was likely to back Sarno’s general election opponent. How soon and with how much enthusiasm was more of a guess. Now, the senator has left little doubt. With former mayoral rival and State Rep Orlando Ramos also in, Hurst is now acquiring support from leaders who identify with the city’s largest demographic bloc.

“I wholeheartedly endorse Justin Hurst for mayor and believe he is the right choice to lead our city forward,” Gomez said in a post on Hurst’s social media.

Gomez expanded upon his endorsement in a statement from Hurst’s campaign.

“His experience as a Springfield City Councilor for the past decade and his passion for serving the community make him the ideal candidate for mayor,” Gomez said. “Justin’s strategic approach to tackling the city’s challenges, combined with his ability to bring people together, will undoubtedly lead to positive changes and a brighter future for Springfield.”

In his statement, Hurst thanked Gomez for his support.

“Senator Gomez has long been a pillar of support and advocacy for Springfield,” Hurst said. “His tireless dedication to his work on behalf of all residents in the Statehouse is evident in everything he does. I’m deeply honored to have his support as both a colleague and a friend in the upcoming general election on November 7.”

Gomez joined the Council two years after Hurst and resigned in 2021 to focus on the Senate. Generally speaking, they voted the same way on the Council, especially on issues that the mayor opposed. Gomez and Hurst also served concurrent terms as Council President and Vice-president in 2020.

The endorsement follows Ramos’ backing on Tuesday and that of David Ciampi, another defeated mayoral hopeful, last week. The State Rep, who overlapped with Hurst on the Council until 2021, slammed crime and cost of living under Sarno.

“I ran for Mayor because our city cannot afford another 4 years of Domenic Sarno,” Ramos said in a statement from Hurst’s campaign. “Our city is in dire need of new leadership, fresh ideas, and new approaches to solving problems. That’s why I’m endorsing Justin Hurst for Mayor.”

In his statement backing Hurst, Ciampi panned the idea of a mayor serving 20 years. Sarno became the longest serving mayor in Springfield history in 2020. His tenure would span two decades if he won and completed another term.

The fifth candidate in last week’s preliminary, Council President Jesse Lederman, told The Republican his focus, for now,  was completing his Council term.

Denise Hurst

Seriously, if you’ve been reading, you know we’ve called Denise Hurst her husband’s not-so-secret weapon before… (WMP&I)

As Hurst brings Gomez and Ramos into the fold, attention will turn toward the impact Latinos could have in the mayoral contest. Hurst is already on his way to consolidating some Hispanic political support in the city. Beyond Gomez and Ramos, one of the city’s prominent Latinas in politics is Hurst’s wife, School Committee member Denise Hurst.

As the city’s largest Census designation, Latinos could be decisive in this election. Full precinct stats is not yet online, but early data suggests Hispanic Springfield disproportionately skipped the election. Sarno fellow travelers believe the Latinos that did show favor the mayor, a pattern they expect to repeat in November. North End establishment Latinos such as Ward 1 Councilor Maria Perez have backed Sarno.

This is where Gomez could become key. Once the Ward 1 Councilor himself, Gomez unseated a sitting state senator in a Democratic primary in 2020. While stratospheric turnout during the COVID-19 pandemic helped, an aggressive ground game, especially in Springfield, put Gomez over the top. Because it was tactics as much as organization, Gomez’s political value travels. He played a role in helping now-Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia get through a crowded preliminary two years ago.

These endorsements should help Hurst make up some of the 19-point gap between himself and Sarno. Yet, the mayor was only a nose away from 50% last week. Plus, he has far more money left in the bank.

The election is in 47 days—or less for those voting early.