A message of experience won the day in Massachusetts’ First Congressional District as voters advanced Rep. Richard Neal, a 30-year incumbent, in Tuesday’s democratic primary over a young, progressive challenger, the AP is projecting.

In the closing days of the race, the congressman faced intensifying criticism from Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse who painted Neal — who has been in Congress about as long as Morse has been alive — as a Washington-insider who served industries not individuals.

The win means Neal, chair of the powerful House Ways and Means committee, will be the lone candidate for the seat on the ballot in November.

Neal was greeted by a small group of enthusiatic and masked supporters at Union Station in Springfield — the site where he announced his first campaign in 1977.

"I want to thank first of all the people in the first congressional district for their confidence in me and the agenda we have consistently put forward," Neal said. "This victory is substantial, and I intend to put it to good use."

The race gained national attention in early August, after allegations surfaced that Morse had inappropriate relationships with students while he was an adjunct instructor at UMass Amherst. Morse denied the claims, and the Intercept later reported that the claims were part of a broader plot to torpedo Morse's campaign. Morse said the move actually gave him a fundraising bump.

With 72 percent of the precinct reporting, Neal had amassed more than a 17,000-vote lead.

Neal spent the bulk of the campaign highlighting his record, which includes support for social security, affordable health care and improved transportation systems.

He also touted his involvment in writing the so-called CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package Congress passed at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Morse criticized Neal for his CARES Act vote, saying it didn’t do enough for families, and for not supporting the Green New Deal, a sweeping environmental policy proposal co-authored by Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey.

Neal countered that Morse was full of ideas but had had failed to execute as the mayor of Holyoke, a position he has held since 2011.

For much of the campaign, Neal shied away from criticizing Morse’s job as mayor. But in recent debates Neal attacked Morse’s attendance record at school committee meetings and called attention to the city’s struggling school district, which is in receivership.

Morse consistently jabbed Neal, who spent more than $4 million on this race, for receiving more money from political action committees than any other House member this election cycle.Morse, who did not take PAC money, spent about $1 million, according to the latest campaign finance filings.

Massachusetts 1st congressional district — a mix of 87 urban, rural and suburban cities and towns — is geographically the largest in the state.

Neal has been an elected official for most of his career, serving as a Springfield city councilor and the city’s mayor prior to joining Congress in 1989.

This story was updated to include comments from Rep. Richard Neal's victory speech.