BOSTON (AP) — Attorney General Maura Healey won the Democratic primary for governor in Massachusetts on Tuesday, bringing her one step closer to becoming the first openly gay candidate and the first woman elected to the state’s highest political office – eight years after being elected the nation. first openly gay attorney general.
Healey, whose only rival for the nomination dropped out of the race but remained on the ballot, will be the heavy favorite in November against the winner of the Republican primary. Former State Rep. Geoff Diehl, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, and businessman Chris Doughty, considered more moderate, are running for the GOP nomination.
The current incumbent, centrist Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, has decided not to seek a third term. He did not endorse either of the two Republican candidates.
Healey, 51, touted his efforts as the state’s top law enforcement official to protect students and homeowners from predatory lenders. Healey also sued Exxon Mobil Corp. over whether the oil giant misled investors and the public about its knowledge of climate change – a case still pending in court – and targeted OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family over allegations that they cheated. patients and physicians about the risks of opioids. In 2021, Healey announced a resolution to this case.
His most frequent target, however, was Trump. Healey led or joined dozens of lawsuits against Trump while he was president. One of his firsts challenged Trump’s travel ban, which would have barred teachers and students from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Iraq and Syria, from coming to Massachusetts, which attracts students from all over the world.
On Tuesday, Republican voters in the state will be just the last to decide whether the party will embrace Trumpism more or is ready to return to the center. In recent primaries in other blue states like Maryland and Connecticut, GOP voters nominated Trump loyalists, hurting the party’s chances of winning against a Democrat in the November general election.
Diehl, the favorite among Republican Party delegates from the state of Massachusetts, has ties to Trump that extend to 2016, when he served as co-chair of Trump’s presidential campaign in the state. Trump has lost Massachusetts by nearly 30 percentage points in his two presidential campaigns. Diehl also opposed COVID-19 protocols and welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
Doughty, a businessman, said he supports some of Trump’s initiatives but wants to focus on the challenges facing Massachusetts, which he says is increasingly unaffordable.
Diehl has come to terms with Trump’s false claims that he has won the 2020 election. Diehl said last year he didn’t believe it was a “stolen election,” but did later said the election was rigged, despite dozens of courts, local officials and Trump’s own attorney general saying the vote was legitimate. Doughty, meanwhile, said he believes President Joe Biden was legitimately elected.
The challenge for both is that Trump’s support may play well among the party’s conservative wing, but could be a political albatross in a state where registered Republicans make up less than 10% of the electorate, compared to around 31% for Democrats and about 57% for Independents.
Diehl faced a similar struggle when he challenged Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren in 2018. He won a three-way Republican primary to secure just over a third of the vote in the general election.
Doughty said he would work to reduce taxes and said that although he considers himself ‘pro-life’, he accepts the state Supreme Court’s decision recognizing the right to abortion in Massachusetts .
Massachusetts has a history of electing fiscally conservative and socially moderate Republican governors, including former governors. William Weld and Mitt Romney – to control overwhelming Democratic legislative majorities. Baker, another Republican in that mold, remained popular in the state.
Healey is widely seen as a strong favorite to win the governorship, particularly if Diehl, the Trump-backed nominee, were to win. Healey said she would work to expand job training programs, make child care more affordable and modernize schools. Healey also said she would protect “access to safe and legal abortion in Massachusetts” following the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
But Healey faces a strange hurdle in Massachusetts — the so-called Attorney General’s Curse. Since 1958, six former Massachusetts attorneys general have sought the governor’s office. Everything failed.
The state once had a female governor, although she was appointed to that position. Republican Jane Swift served as interim governor after Governor Paul Cellucci left in 2001 to become US ambassador to Canada.
Tuesday’s election also includes several contested Democratic primaries across the state, including for attorney general and secretary of the commonwealth.
Two Democrats are vying for the top law enforcement office: former Boston City Councilwoman Andrea Campbell and workers’ rights attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan. A week before the election, a third candidate, former assistant attorney general Quentin Palfrey, announced he was suspending his campaign and endorsed Campbell; it will remain on the ballot.
Campbell would be the first black woman to hold the office in Massachusetts if elected.
The winner will face Republican Jay McMahon, an attorney who previously ran against Healey and lost.
Outgoing Democratic Commonwealth Secretary William Galvin is running for an eighth term. He takes up a challenge from fellow Democrat Tanisha Sullivan, president of the Boston branch of the NAACP. Sullivan would be the first black person to hold that position in the state.
The winner will face Republican Rayla Campbell in November. Campbell is also black.
There are also contested races in the Democratic primary for auditor and for the Democratic and Republican races for lieutenant governor.
None of the nine incumbent members of the U.S. Democratic House face any primary opponents. There are two disputed Republican primaries in the 8th and 9th congressional districts.
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