New Bedford Native Steve Pemberton Drops Out of U.S. Senate Race
BOSTON — New Bedford native Steve Pemberton has dropped out of the race for incumbent Ed Markey’s U.S. Senate seat.
Pemberton made the announcement Monday morning in a lengthy post to the Steve Pemberton for U.S. Senate Facebook page.
In the post, Pemberton explains his decision to drop out was based on the “impenetrable wall of legacy and birthright,” as well as “incumbency and connections,” standing in his way.
“But this Senate race will not be the path for me to help make that change. And that is because – while I saw so much in the decency of this Commonwealth and its people to spur me on during this campaign – I also ran into an impenetrable wall of legacy and birthright – of incumbency and connections – that so often has stifled and blocked diverse and urgent voices from succeeding in the political arena,” Pemberton wrote.
“While we were able to raise nearly $500,000 in our first quarter, it also became clear that the barriers placed before anyone attempting to take on entrenched power are in so many cases too towering and too irremovable to overcome.”
Pemberton announced his candidacy in July from New Bedford, his hometown, describing his rough childhood experience of losing both parents at a young age and subsequently living in various foster homes across the state. He described how he overcame his rough childhood and the success he had as an adult as a business executive for Monster.com and Walgreens.
The spotlight, however, has been on incumbent Ed Markey and Congressman Joe Kennedy III since Kennedy announced his candidacy last month. Markey has received the key endorsement of two firebrands of the Democratic party in Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY 14th District) and fellow U.S. Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.
Pemberton’s Facebook announcement can be read in it’s entirety below:
“In July, I stood before friends and family in my hometown of New Bedford and announced my candidacy for the United States Senate. It was an unlikely stop on a life’s journey that had begun in the shadows of society.
You see, I was born to a mother who was in the middle of a losing battle with alcoholism. At 1 ½ years old a babysitter — seeing how desperate the situation was — said of me: “this little boy doesn’t have a chance in the world.”
At the age of 3, I was taken away from my mother never to see her again. Two years later, my father was killed in an act of gun violence. What followed was the lonely journey of a bi-racial foster child lost in the gaps of a strained and burdened foster care system. I was shuffled in and out of unstable and violent foster homes trying to find a normalcy that never came, trying to be seen as any human being wants to be seen: for the possibilities of my life and not the circumstances.
This inherited circumstance, handed down from one generation of my family to the next, was not my fault but it was still my responsibility. That determination to better my life was met by the kindness of everyday citizens who affirmed that fight. All these years later, as time and life has moved on, I have not forgotten those human lighthouses or the lessons of service and integrity they instilled in me.
They were the reason that I made improving the lives of others the purpose of my own life. They were the reason I focused my career on providing equal access to the great engines of the American Dream-higher education, career advancement and healthcare. And most importantly, they were the reason I found what will always be the greatest treasure of my life – the one thing that I had sought all along -- family. And with my wife Tonya and our three teenaged children – Quinn, Vaughn, and Kennedy, we have broken the cycle. My children and their children will never have to face what I did. It ends, and it has ended, with me.
In the weeks since that announcement, I have spoken to scores of citizens across Massachusetts who relate to that journey because it is part of their journey as well. I was not the only one who fought the good fight, not the only one who refused to accept the label of victim, not the only one who grew up far away from the world of entitlement and privilege. The path to healing America lies in recognizing that none of us have the same story but we do have mutual chapters.
I was inspired and energized by these stories of courage, determination, and faith. It affirmed for me that the greatest heroes in America are already amongst us, working hard each day to create a better day in America. I believe that if we point our sail towards those lives, and take example from them, we can come together to address the cycles of poverty, addiction, mental health, violence, hopelessness and abandonment that have claimed so many lives.
But this Senate race will not be the path for me to help make that change. And that is because – while I saw so much in the decency of this Commonwealth and its people to spur me on during this campaign – I also ran into an impenetrable wall of legacy and birthright – of incumbency and connections – that so often has stifled and blocked diverse and urgent voices from succeeding in the political arena.
While we were able to raise nearly $500,000 in our first quarter, it also became clear that the barriers placed before anyone attempting to take on entrenched power are in so many cases too towering and too irremovable to overcome. They are bolstered by state and federal party bosses who privately blacklist anyone attempting to aid an insurgent campaign while publicly espousing the importance of diversity and inclusivity. They are supported by a campaign finance system that allows incumbents to hoard millions of dollars in special interest PAC money — right up to the point where they “see the light” and conveniently embrace campaign finance reform for short-term political advantage while sitting comfortably on their bloated war chests. And they are protected by the insiders who criticized me for breaking the party ‘rule’ of challenging an incumbent, forced consultants off of my campaign, and then changed their tune when Congressman Kennedy, in unprecedented fashion, entered into the race. The message, delivered to me, in word and in deed was abundantly clear: those same rules did not apply to him.
Many of us walk through the world with the scars and the voids of a life forever altered because of failed policies by those who have been in Washington long enough to have taken a stronger stand. To simply empathize with those experiences is no longer enough. The Democratic Party will have to find a way to fully embrace those voices rather than deny them because those lives, often unseen, still have value and they should have a place in our public discourse. But until we really challenge this rigged system that favors wealth, longevity and legacy, the public will be denied true choice in the voting booth and will be forced to pick between subtlety different shades of the same political establishment candidates.
Tonya and I are so thankful to all the people across the country and the Commonwealth who supported this campaign – who, like us, thought that in these trying times different perspectives and more urgent voices were needed in Washington, DC. We still believe that is needed. We still believe that we must not just focus on climate change but climate justice, not just on gun reform but gun violence prevention, on treating addiction as an illness and not a moral failure and treating healthcare as a human right. We still believe a new culture is needed in Washington, one that focuses on doing right rather than being right, on waking up each day seeking to build up rather than break down, on looking to serve rather than stop.
We also still believe in the power of service and the idea that anything is possible in America. Our journey is evidence of that. That belief is why we will spend the coming weeks thinking about how best we can serve, how my journey and my experience can help those too often forgotten and left behind in our society.
I believe I brought to this race a fighter heart’s and a servant’s spirit and a lifetime of unifying, building and serving. I still believe we should have a government that reflects the diversity of experience in America and is filled with representatives who understand the challenges people face every day because they have lived them. And I will never stop believing that everyone in Massachusetts deserves a chance in the world.”