Former City Councilor Pete White, Pittsfield's Shannon Grant Coordinator Adam Hinds, lieutenant governor candidate Steve Kerrigan and Sheriff Thomas Bowler at a meet and greet at Mad Jack's last Tuesday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In 2009, state and federal officials broke ground on the Soldier On's Gordon Mansfield Center on West Housatonic Street.
Neither U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy nor Steve Kerrigan were able to attend that day. But Kerrigan, then Kennedy's political aide, remembers working out the details of the federal earmark making that construction possible.
Last week, years after the center opened, Soldier On Executive Vice President Steven Como was at Mad Jack's Barbecue supporting Kerrigan's campaign for lieutenant governor.
"We've got a lot of great support for activists and organizers in the region and we feel good about it. This is a region where I'm not a stranger. I've worked with Steve Como when I worked for Sen. Kennedy's office on early funding for veterans' issues. I worked with Gerry Doyle as mayor with the consent degree in Pittsfield. I've worked with Lance Crane to make sure we kept Crane Paper's [currency] contract and that Congress didn't mess with that," Kerrigan said.
"This is not an area that I'm unfamiliar with and folks I've known for more than 20 years are coming out to help my campaign."
The Lancaster Democratic has already received the support of state Sen. Benjamin Downing and state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli and recently earned the endorsement of Sheriff Thomas Bowler. Beyond that, he says he has the support of many party activists.
Kerrigan says he has connections with the Berkshires running back 20 years. He remembers in 1996 receiving a 7 a.m. phone call from Kennedy asking if saw the news that Crane & Co. was on the verge of losing the federal currency contract, which would have left hundreds out of work in Berkshire County.
"We went to work that day and every day after for 18 months with Lance Crane down in Washington to make sure that contract was preserved and it was. We're very proud of that," Kerrigan said. "That is the kind of work government can do for a community, for a company that means so much for the community and for the whole commonwealth. That's what I want to do."
And he says he has similar support all over the state, heading into the Sept. 9 primary.
"We feel we have a lot of strong support across Massachusetts. I have 15 mayors, almost 50 legislators, five sheriffs. We have support both geographically diverse, ideologically diverse and we feel strong in every corner of the commonwealth. It will be tough to tell but we feel confident," Kerrigan said.
Kerrigan, left, fields questions from resident Frank Sturgis.
Kerrigan won the Democratic State Convention and has led in polls over Mike Lake and Leland Cheung. He campaigned in the Berkshires on both Sunday and Tuesday in what he says is a jammed-packed push for the nomination.
"We've had a tour of Massachusetts in just the last two weeks. We're covering 35, 36 communities in three or four weeks with events every night. We don't have a day off and we've just been connecting with voters through meet and greets and house parties," he said.
Kerrigan says he is confident with the "grassroots" organization his campaign has built.
"The polls show us in the lead, with a huge undecided but still in the lead, and we know we have the organization to do this in the next two weeks and come out on Sept. 9," Kerrigan said.
Kerrigan is hoping to win the nomination and be paired with whomever wins the Democratic governor primary for the general election. While he has been focused on the primary and the state party has been focused on the general election, Kerrigan says his campaign has always been focused on winning on Nov. 4.
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The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015
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