Meet Alex Morse

May 25, 2013

Meet Alex Morse. He’s a Wellstone Action alumnus. And he’s also the youngest-ever mayor in Massachusetts, and the youngest openly gay mayor in the nation.

Elected to public office at age 22, Alex’s first “real job” out of college has been to serve as the mayor of his hometown, a seat he won by just a few hundred votes.

How’d he do it?

By putting Wellstone Action’s strategic guidance to work. Says Alex, “I knew I wanted to lead my community. Holyoke has too many families living in poverty, and our unemployment, crime, and high school dropout rates are all higher than the national average. And I also knew I couldn’t do it alone – I was going up against the establishment, an incumbent with nearly 20 years of service. I did lots of online research, read more about Camp Wellstone, and knew it’s what I needed to prepare myself.”

Nobody expected Alex to win. Being young and gay in a conservative, traditional community are barriers enough; add “aspiring politician” to the mix, and calling Morse’s candidacy a long shot might actually be kind. But Alex – the first in his family to graduate from college – expected as much; and he also expected Wellstone Action, with its tradition of training authentic, progressive candidates to run winning campaigns, to give him the tools to quiet his critics and pave his path to electoral success.

So Alex signed up for our Camp Wellstone New York, and just over a year later, propelled himself to a 608-vote victory. Says Alex, “Wellstone Action gave me the foundation to run an effective grassroots campaign. It taught me everything, from base building to finance to fundraising to media to the campaign timeline. And most importantly, it taught me that progressive candidates need to get serious about reaching new and disengaged voters.”

Alex continues, “I started base building immediately after the training, connecting with people in their kitchens, in their living rooms, on their doorsteps. I grew up in the digital age, and I also speak Spanish fluently, so I reached out in person and online to communities that are often ignored by politicians, seeking to tell a new story about the City of Holyoke – one that was written for everybody.”

You may not live in Holyoke. But you had a part in this story. Because your support of Wellstone Action lets us train Alex, and thousands like him, all over the country. Camp Wellstone is our flagship program – the first training we ever created for progressive candidates, campaign workers, and community members. Fully 50% of our Camp Wellstone program is supported by generous donors like you. And more than half of those who attend camp depend on scholarships to cover the (already modest) cost of tuition.

Alex’s win might’ve been a long shot, but it wasn’t an accident. Says Alex, “I believe in what Wellstone Action teaches: that we need community grassroots support and really great people in elected office to make good public policy in this country.”

Well, Mr. Mayor, we couldn’t agree more.