Amherst representative dumps Democrat, cites “false construct”

Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose unenrolled from the Democratic Party Tuesday morning at Amherst Town Hall. [Photo: Courtesy SHNS]

BOSTON (SHNS) – Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose of Amherst on Tuesday announced that he had changed his party registration to unenrolled, becoming the second House lawmaker to withdraw from a political party this session.

Elected in 2016 as a Democrat, Goldstein-Rose joins Athol Rep. Susannah Whipps, a former Republican, as the only independent lawmakers on Beacon Hill.

In an email newsletter, Goldstein-Rose said he made the move so that his registration would “align with the spirit of how I have always tried to work in the political arena.”

“We have this idea that political ideology falls along a spectrum,” he wrote. “This is a false construct, and I have always tried to find the best ideas no matter who they come from. I became truly active in state politics working on carbon pollution pricing, which has national advocates including Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and others.”

The bulk of Massachusetts voters — 54 percent as of February 2017 — are unenrolled, with 34 percent registered as Democrats and nearly 11 percent registered as Republicans, according to Secretary of State William Galvin’s office.

But in politics, power and money flows both in Massachusetts and nationally to the two big parties, the Democrats and Republicans. Candidates not aligned with those two parties have often struggled.

Golstein-Rose told the News Service he filled out the paperwork to change his registration Tuesday morning in Amherst before driving to the State House. He made the decision now because next Tuesday, Feb. 27, is the deadline for candidates running in this fall’s elections to enroll in or unenroll from a party.

“If I was going to do it at all, I wanted to do it before running, not run as a Democrat and be like, ‘Just kidding,'” he said. “I’ve done exactly what I said I was going to do when I ran the first time and certainly haven’t changed my policy priorities in this move. It’s aligning my registration with the way I’ve already been acting, so I think a lot of people are going to be excited about that.”

Goldstein-Rose’s withdrawal will not affect the Democratic Party’s supermajority in the House. Democrats will hold 123 seats of the 160-person House, with 34 Republicans and one vacancy.

Goldstein-Rose serves on the joint Housing, Higher Education, and Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development committees, as well as the House Committee on Personnel and Administration.

A statement from Goldstein-Rose’s office said that the choice of a nonpartisan registration “will bring with it the opportunity to attract greater attention to his district’s policy priorities,” including carbon pricing, ranked-choice voting, education reform and civic engagement.

In January 2017, Goldstein-Rose filed an “election modernization” bill (H 3485) that included language that would make state elections nonpartisan, eliminating the state primary and removing party designations from state ballots.

Goldstein-Rose, 24, said he wants voters to be able to “really engage and learn what people actually focus on,” instead of making assumptions based on party affiliation.

“This idea that because one party supports something, the other can’t, it’s paralyzed national policies,” he said in an interview. “We need to be getting much more done, much bigger things, to get my generation — which is the least engaged in terms of voting that young people have ever been in the U.S. — to get people re-engaged, we need to make people believe in the system again. That means getting big things done, that means showing you don’t necessarily need to be partisan to be effective.”