Bristol County sheriff launches re-election campaign with endorsement from Baker

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WESTPORT, Mass. (WJAR) — Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson officially launched his re-election campaign, and he is getting support from the commonwealth’s leader.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker was at Wednesday’s event at White’s Restaurant in Westport, telling NBC 10 News that he’s endorsing Hodgson for sheriff, who’s seeking in fifth term in office.

“[Hodgson has] been a big supporter of mine,” Baker said. “Look, we don’t agree all the time on everything … I think for me, it’s more about can you have a conversation with somebody? Are you going get what they believe when you talk to them? Are they going to be the person that tells you straight up what they think? And Tom has always been that kind of guy.”

The support may raise eyebrows for a few. Baker was often critical of former President Donald Trump, while Hodgson was the honorary chairman of Trump’s 2020 reelection effort in the commonwealth.

The sheriff was joined by friends, family, and supporters at the function. He’s served as Bristol County’s sheriff since 1997.

“I’m running again because I believe there’s never been a more important time in our nation’s history for us to reclaim rule of law, communities and give back safety and security we all expect,” he told the crowd. “We’re committed to doing everything we can in regard to programs, we’re committed to our seniors and making sure they’re safe and doing everything we can to get these drugs out of this community.”

Hodgson has faced his share of criticism from opponents on topics such as immigration and arguments that Hodgson isn’t focused enough on reducing recidivism.

As of now, Hodgson has no GOP challenger in the September primary, but three Democrats are vying for the position: Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux, former Somerset Police Chief George McNeil and attorney Nick Bernier.

In response to Baker’s attendance at Wednesday’s event, all three sent statements to NBC 10 News.

Heroux’s read, “It doesn’t surprise me that [Governor] Charlie Baker is attending this event. He is always campaigning against me. I have raised more funds each of the last three months than has Sheriff Hodgson.”

McNeil’s said: “I am surprised. Gov. Baker is not a Trump fan by any means and (Sheriff) Hodgson was a big supporter and it’s surprising (as well as) the Sheriff’s history of Draconian policies and practices at the jail that he (Baker) would support him for another six-year term. It’s time for a change there, it (the office) needs to be reorganized and streamlined. The sheriff is only spending $1,000 per prisoner while other sheriffs are spending $5,000 per prisoner for programs for mental health and rehabilitation.”

Bernier’s added: “I disagree with the sheriff’s policies, but he is seasoned politician, he is a political chameleon, and he is pretending to be moderate. I can’t speak for Governor, but I’m sure the sheriff is telling him what he wants to here. The reality is, the Bristol County prison system remains the same, we are not safer now than we were 25 years ago.”

The Massachusetts primary is Sept. 6, and the general election is on Nov. 8.