Healey Steps Towards Historic Massachusetts First As Progressives Get Steamed

Healey, if she wins, would also become the state’s first openly gay female governor. And she’ll run for governor on a two-woman ticket with Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll riding through her triple Democratic primary for the No. 2 spot on Tuesday — establishing Massachusetts as one of three states to allow women for both. choose offices around the same time this year. In Arkansas, Republicans nominated Sarah Huckabee Sanders for governor and Leslie Rutledge for lieutenant governor. And in Ohio, Democrats lead Nan Whaley and Cheryl Stephens.

“With your help, Massachusetts will elect its first governor and lieutenant governor on a women-only ticket for the first time,” Driscoll told supporters after proclaiming victory Tuesday night. “That’s right — not one, but two women in the corner office.”

Further in the vote, Andrea Campbell, a former Boston city councilman, would become the first black woman to be elected attorney general if she defeats Republican Jay McMahon in November. Campbell and Rayla Campbell, a Republican running a lengthy campaign for secretary of state against seven-year Democratic incumbent Bill Galvin, said they made history Tuesday night as the first black female nominees for statewide office in Massachusetts.

Treasurer Deb Goldberg is unopposed in her reelection bid. And state Sen. Diana DiZoglio is one step closer to the accounting room after defeating her Democratic primary rival, Chris Dempsey, on Tuesday.

“It’s quite astonishing that, despite our progressive reputation, Massachusetts has never elected a female governor and we’ve never really had women who would lead the commonwealth in the highest offices,” said Amanda Hunter, executive director of the Barbara Lee Family. Foundation, which advocates for women in politics, said in an interview. “This is an important turning point.”

But first, heated battles in the general election will have to be fought. Diehl’s victory over the more moderate Republican Chris Doughty kicks off the governor’s race to become a referendum on Trump’s legacy in a state that has seen him twice its greatest defeats.

And the progressive wing of the Democratic Party in Massachusetts is littered with losses after Tuesday’s primaries. While applauding the chance to break several glass ceilings in November, progressive activists who have won major victories with Rep. Ayanna Pressleysen. Ed Markey and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is concerned after their candidates fell statewide.

State senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, who ran to Healey’s left in a battle between two progressives, quit the Democratic primary in June. Quentin Palfrey, who won the state party’s approval for attorney general, eventually left the race a week before the primary to support Andrea Campbell. Three other candidates, backed by major progressive groups – Dempsey, State Representative Tami Gouveia for Lieutenant Governor and Tanisha Sullivan for Secretary of State – all lost Tuesday night.

They generally lacked campaign money, brand awareness in a low-yield primary, slick outreach operations, or all three. Chang-Díaz proved unable to compete with the near-universal recognition Healey, a two-term attorney general, had with Democratic primary voters or her huge campaign coffers. Healey went into the general election with over $4.7 million.

Despite being the Democratic Party’s 2018 candidate for lieutenant governor, Palfrey lagged in the polls against Andrea Campbell, who finished third in the Boston mayoral race last year, and Shannon Liss-Riordan, a labor attorney and former US Senate candidate who put $9.3 million of her own money into her campaign. Sullivan and Gouveia never advertised on television.

“We’ve had candidates over the years who have done a lot of really great progressive agenda-setting, but also spent a lot of time laying their ground,” Jonathan Cohn, policy director for Progressive Massachusetts, said in an interview. “One of the problems with this cycle is that there aren’t that many candidates who have done that.”

To be clear, Healey is a progressive – just not one who is as far-left as some activists in Massachusetts wanted.

But Cohn and other progressives say they will take over Healey if it means retaking the corner office from the Republicans who have held it for more than 30 years, breaking some barriers along the way.

Massachusetts is no stranger to choosing women: Former Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Murphy became the first to win one of the state’s six constitutional offices in 1986, followed by former treasurer Shannon O’Brien in 1999. In 2001, Jane Swift acted as acting governor when she was then governor. Paul Cellucci resigned to become US ambassador to Canada.

But two decades after Swift, Massachusetts is lagging behind many other states. Nine states have incumbent female governors. Thirty of the 45 women who have served as governors in 31 states were chosen for the job, while the rest were appointed or assumed the role through constitutional succession, according to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics.

“This state has always had a reputation for being quite parochial and sticking to people who are more like me: white, Irish and male,” former Democratic Party chairman Phil Johnston said in an interview. “So this is a radical turnaround that I think should be celebrated. It’s great progress in Massachusetts.”

While the Republican primary for lieutenant governor was too close to call early Wednesday morning, Driscoll’s victory on the Democratic side guarantees the general election will be a contest between two female candidates. And the bevy of women running for president comes a year after voters saw four women, including Andrea Campbell, run the field for Boston mayor.

“Even seeing multiple women running for these positions helps break a lot of long-held stereotypes voters have,” explains Hunter of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation. “We know from our research that when we ask voters to propose a governor, a majority still proposes a man. Just seeing different examples of what a candidate looks like helps voters expand that perception in their minds for the future.”

This potential peak year for state-level female candidates in Massachusetts comes as the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to lift five decades of constitutional access to abortion is pushing women in some states to en masse register to vote.

While abortion is enshrined in state law in Massachusetts, Healey’s Democrats at the ballot made it clear through stump speeches and television ads that they will champion reproductive rights. And they argue that their Republican opponents will not be in a state where 78 percent of residents believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

“Women Get Energy”, Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) said in an interview. “And this election, more than any other I can think of, has such consequences for women.”

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