Mass. Sen. Will Brownsberger, representative for the Second Suffolk and Middlesex county where Boston University is located, kicked off his campaign on Saturday for the U.S. Representative seat vacated by former Sen. Ed Markey by leading a bike tour to encourage voters to cast their ballot for him.
Brownsberger, a triathlete and avid cyclist, left Arlington early Saturday morning on his self-dubbed “Tour de Fifth” bike ride, a one day, 110-mile tour that stopped at every town in the Commonwealth’s fifth congressional district, which Markey’s formerly represented.
“I don’t know if another campaign has ever done a bike tour, but it was a nice idea for our kickoff,” said Andrew Bettinelli, campaign manager for Brownsberger’s congressional bid. “The way we’ve been phrasing it around the office is ‘it’s very Will.’”
The double loop ride began in Arlington on Saturday morning with a party of 18 riders including Brownsberger. Friends and supporters of Brownsberger joined him on the ride and supported him along the way.
Bettinelli said the ride turnout was greater than Brownsberger or his staff expected. They hoped to have five to 10 riders at most for the first loop of the ride, and after that, they assumed about half would stay around for the second loop, he said.
Some people were at the campaign stops, but the significant number of riders was seen as great news for Brownsberger’s chance in the coming elections, Bettinelli said.
“I’m really surprised, but I think it really goes to show the depth of the support that Will has,” he said. “He’s done a lot of great work for cyclists and other forms of transportation. He’s been a big advocate for public transit and making cities more bike friendly.”
Brownsberger said he is looking to take his experience in the Massachusetts Senate to the national level. He said he did not initially plan on running for a federal position, but he decided to take this opportunity to run.
“The timing is determined by the race,” Brownsberger said. “I love being in the [Massachusetts] Senate. I would’ve been happy to be there for a while longer, but I really want to be a part of helping this country meet its largest challenges.”
Brownsberger is one of seven Democratic candidates vying for the seat vacated when Markey won the June 25 special election to fill Secretary of State John Kerry’s U.S. Senate seat. In a poll conducted by Spilka in late July, Brownsberger came in fourth out of the five candidates at the time. However, the winner of the poll only had four percentage points over Brownsberger, and 43 percent of the sample was undecided.
Samantha Hooper, communications director for the Massachusetts Democratic Party, said while her party feels confident they can win the election, they have not given any candidate a potential advantage with official support.
“We have some excellent candidates and a deep pool of talent in the democratic party,” said. “It’s going to be a close race. “
Brownsberger said he will continue to campaign and draw more support as the Oct. 15 primary draws closer.
“I am different from the other candidates,” he said. “I’m the candidate who is willing to be a little independent and do the right thing when that’s not what the party leadership wants, or [when] it’s not what the pressure groups want, and I think voters appreciate that.”