Area legislators mostly aligned with Hillary Clinton, and against Donald Trump

BOSTON — Western Massachusetts legislators are mostly lining up with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — and against Republican frontrunner Donald Trump as the state prepares to vote next week on Super Tuesday.

State Rep. Ellen Story, D-Amherst, said she is “looking for a president who is reasonable and someone who is up for the incredible demands of the job.”

Story added, “I would be pleased with either of the two Democratic (candidates). I do think that Hillary, because she is so much more experienced, has a better chance of beating whoever the Republican nominee is. I will be voting for Hillary on Tuesday.”

On the Republican side, Story said it is “completely appalling … that Donald Trump may win even Massachusetts. It sounds like he might. I just find that hard to believe.”

State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, echoed Story, saying, “I’ve been unfortunately surprised by how successful Donald Trump has been.”

Downing added that Trump has used some of “the most extreme or the most vile rhetoric” that modern politics has seen in a long time.

Downing is also among the legislators backing Clinton.

“When you look at the breadth and depth of her experience, it is unrivaled in either party and by any other candidate,” said Downing, whose district includes Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg and Worthington.

He added that Clinton has a “record of getting results.”

Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, D-Amherst, and Sen. Eric P. Lesser, D-Longmeadow, whose district includes Belchertown and Granby, also are supporting Clinton.

She has opened six campaign offices throughout the commonwealth, including in Springfield and Holyoke.

‘Schwarzenegger effect’

State Rep. Aaron Vega, a Holyoke Democrat, called the support for Trump “the Schwarzenegger effect.”

“Trump is a reality TV star, so people have this idea that they know him,” Vega said. “(He) uses scare tactics … unfortunately some people buy into that.”

Vega, who has not publicly supported either Democratic candidate, said American voters are becoming increasingly wary of “institutional candidates” resulting from a “general frustration that people have about politics.”

He added, “There’s so much anger and so much anxiety that when someone comes out and touches on those feelings, it really ignites people.”

Vega said while Democratic candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has held office for decades, he still is seen as “an outsider,” which is one reason for his popularity.

Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, said he supports Sanders because Clinton cannot be trusted — a result of what he termed her close affiliation with the economic elite and the “establishment political system in America.”

“That is one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest shortcomings,” Kulik said. “People don’t necessarily trust her.”

Kulik said this “trust factor” is not an issue for Sanders who he described as an authentic candidate “who speaks for what he truly believes.”

Kulik’s district includes Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield, Williamsburg, Worthington, Deerfield, Leverett, Shutesbury, Sunderland and Whately.

Sanders has opened campaign offices in Springfield, Charlestown and Worcester.

Reps. Peter V. Kocot, D-Northampton, and John W. Scibak, D-South Hadley, did not respond to requests for comment on who they are supporting for president.

This article was originally published on February 27, 2016.

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