Chang-Díaz ‘exit from Mass. governor primarily race shakes election landscape

Written by Javed Iqbal

Chang-Díaz, 44, announced her retirement exactly one year after she first launched her campaign when she stood up as a progressive reformer who would be a voice for marginalized communities in Beacon Hills’ top office.

But she consistently followed Healey in public polls and fundraising, and she failed to gain ground among established Democrats as well as members of her own Senate meeting.

“I’ve looked at the numbers in every way,” Chang-Díaz said. “Unfortunately, there is no path I can responsibly direct my supporters on, which results in me becoming governor this year.”

Secretary of State William F. Galvin said the deadline for candidates to withdraw from the vote went weeks ago, meaning Chang-Díaz’s name will remain before voters in the September 6 primary election despite her decision on Thursday.

When asked if she would throw her support behind Healey, Chang-Díaz declined to answer.

“I focus my energies on these candidates,” she said, pointing to a number of down-to-earth candidates she supports. “I want to support the Democratic candidate in this race.”

Chang-Díaz delivered her announcement outside an early education center in the Jamaica Plain, less than three weeks after she qualified for the ballot at the State Democratic Party convention. She had captured less than 30 percent of the support of party delegates, significantly behind Healey.

That same week, State Senate President Karen E. Spilka – who once deprived Chang-Díaz of his longtime role as co-chair of the Legislative Assembly’s Education Committee – threw his support behind Healey. The Attorney General has risen to the top of public opinion polls and has a $ 5.2 million war chest and widespread name recognition built by two victories across the country.

Political observers and insiders had different views on what has now actually become a Healey vs. none primary: Some said the strength of Healey’s record and message cured any competition, others suggested that the system deprived voters of a meaningful choice.

Marsh, who has been involved in or observed 11 governorships in the state, was of the first opinion: “The field was not cleared for Maura. Maura cleared the track.”

Since the Attorney General announced her candidacy in January, Healey has led Chang-Díaz by any standard. According to the latest campaign funding reports, her war chest was 16 times larger, and she conducted a recent poll from the University of Massachusetts Amherst / WCVB with 32 points.

She also has something Chang-Díaz does not have: national name recognition for her work successfully taking on opioid producers and opposing a wide range of Trump administration policies.

“I think [a cleared field] is unusual, but I also think it’s important not to miss the fact that Maura Healey has run a really good campaign, ”said Democratic strategist Doug Rubin, who worked on Elizabeth Warren’s successful U.S. Senate campaign and both know the election of former Governor Deval Patrick. “Good campaigns and good candidates win.”

However, some experts say that the system is designed so that candidates like Chang-Díaz, who stand as outsiders, will fail, effectively cheating primary voters in a competitive race.

Chang-Díaz, a veteran member of Beacon Hill who would have been the first Latin and Asian American to serve in the corner office, had framed her candidacy as a political outsider and proclaimed her willingness to oust Democratic state leaders even when cost her politically.

Danielle Allen, a professor at Harvard University and former gubernatorial candidate who dropped out of the race in February, argued that the system does not welcome political outsiders or non-traditional candidates. She predicted that Chang-Díaz’s exit would result in a low level of political competitiveness and lower turnout.

Rubin, the Democratic strategist, acknowledged that there are generally barriers to access to ballot papers, such as access to ballot papers, fundraising challenges or how the media covers candidates who perform worse in opinion polls.

But, he said, good campaigns can overcome these barriers.

“I think it’s a shame that Sonia decided not to continue campaigning,” he said. “I think there is an advantage to having a healthy debate on the issues she raised.”

In a statement, Healey said she was grateful for Chang-Díaz’s work as an elected official and as a gubernatorial candidate.

“The legacy of her campaign will live on through the young girls who finally saw themselves represented in a candidate for the highest office in the state,” the South End Democrat said. “I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Chang-Díaz to bring people together and make Massachusetts work for all of our families.”

Chang-Díaz, a seven-term senator, crafted a campaign message about promises to pursue seismic policy changes: free public transportation and a state-funded single-payer health care system. She too proclaimed a “Green New Deal” at the state level.

Several times as a graduate, she told that she had been removed from the education committee after failing to reach agreement on a school funding bill in 2018, saying she “kept the line” in the negotiations. The end product, which was negotiated by her successor as committee chair, provided $ 1.5 billion to state schools over several years.

“Stand up for what you actually believe,” she begged delegates from the stage at this month’s convention. “Vote for action, not just words.”

But neither her actions nor words worked in her campaign, where she struggled to capture attention in the governor’s race, first overshadowed by questions about whether Governor Charlie Baker would run for re-election (he is not), and then by Healey’s entry into the race in January.

She tried unsuccessfully to push Healey into a series of debates ahead of the convention, and when she entered the DCU Center in Worcester this month, her campaign had spent more than it had collected in consecutive months.

She’s always been an underdog. “I do not think there has been a political endeavor within more than 13 years where I have not been an underdog,” she told the Globe last month.

But in the deep-blue Massachusetts, where the Democratic bench runs long with ambitious candidates, her decision created an almost unthinkable scenario a few months ago: It is the Republicans, not the Democrats, who must fight their way through a controversial primary election for a chance at an open governor’s seat. .

Geoff Diehl, a former state legislator backed by former President Donald Trump, and Chris Doughty, a Wrentham businessman and first-time candidate, are fighting for the Republican ticket. Late April Suffolk University / Boston Globe poll found showed Healey with 27 and 30 points lead over them respectively.

Samantha J. Gross can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @samanthajgross. Matt Stout can be met at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout.

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Javed Iqbal

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