BOTHELL (AP) — Eight years after being chosen as the country’s first openly gay attorney general, Attorney General Maura Healey won the Democratic primary for governor of Massachusetts on Tuesday. She is now one step closer to becoming the first openly gay candidate and the first woman elected to the state’s top political office.
Healey will face the victor of the Republican primary in November as the overwhelming favorite because her only opponent for the nomination withdrew from the campaign but was still on the ballot. Businessman Chris Doughty and former state representative Geoff Diehl, who supports former president Donald Trump, are vying for the GOP nomination.
Governor Charlie Baker, a moderate Republican, chose not to run for reelection a third time. He did not support any Republican contender. The state’s top law enforcement officer, 51-year-old Healey, has bragged about her work shielding homeowners and students from unscrupulous lenders. Healey also sued Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and members of the Sackler family over claims they misled patients and doctors about the dangers of opioids.
The case is still pending in court. Healey also accused Exxon Mobil Corp. of misleading investors and the public about its knowledge of climate change. Healey said that the matter would be resolved in 2021. Trump, though, was her primary aim. While Trump was in office, Healey was the lead plaintiff or co-plaintiff in numerous lawsuits. She took on Trump’s travel ban head-on, which would have prevented teachers and students from seven countries with a majority of Muslims—including Iran, Iraq, and Syria—from visiting Massachusetts. This state draws students from all over the world.
On Tuesday, Republican voters in the state will become the last to decide if the party is prepared to go back toward the center or continue to embrace Trumpism. GOP voters chose Trump supporters in recent primaries in other blue states including Connecticut and Maryland, diminishing the party’s chances of defeating a Democrat in the general election in November. A mechanical problem with the town clerk’s vault prevented the clerk from accessing the votes, delaying the distribution of ballots to polling places. As a result, voting in the Cape Cod town of Barnstable was delayed until midnight.
Diehl, the state’s top Republican Party delegate, has been associated with Trump since 2016 when he co-chaired the Trump presidential campaign. Trump fell short in Massachusetts by over 30 percentage points in his two presidential bids. Additionally, Diehl disapproved of COVID-19 guidelines and applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Businessman Doughty said he agreed with some of Trump’s policies but preferred concentrating on issues affecting Massachusetts, which he claimed was becoming increasingly pricey.
Trump’s misleading assertions that he won the 2020 election have gained Diehl’s support. Even though numerous courts, municipal officials, and Trump’s attorney general stated the vote was lawful, Diehl later claimed that the election was rigged, despite admitting last year that he didn’t believe it was a “stolen election.” Meanwhile, Doughty stated that he thinks Joe Biden was duly elected president.
Support for Trump may be popular among the party’s conservative side. Still, it might be seen as a political liability in a state where registered Republicans make up less than 10% of the electorate, compared to approximately 31% for Democrats and about 57% for independents. When Diehl ran against Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2018, he encountered a similar difficulty. He prevailed in a three-way Republican primary, but in the general election, he only received slightly more than a third of the vote.
Although he considers himself “pro-life,” Doughty has stated that he will try to cut taxes and that he recognizes the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s ruling recognizing a right to abortion. To balance off lopsided Democratic legislative majorities, Massachusetts has a tradition of appointing financially conservative, socially moderate Republican governors, such as past governors William Weld and Mitt Romney. Baker, another Republican in like style, has remained popular in the state.
Most people believe Healey to be a solid favorite to become the next governor, especially if Diehl, the Trump-backed candidate, were to prevail. Healey pledged to try to increase job training programs’ availability, lower childcare costs, and update educational facilities. In response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Healey also stated that she would defend “access to safe and legal abortion in Massachusetts.” In Massachusetts, however, Healey must overcome a particular obstacle known as the “curse of the attorney general.” Six previous Massachusetts attorneys general have run for governor since 1958. All failed.
Although she was appointed to the role, the state has previously had a female governor. Following Governor Paul Cellucci’s resignation in 2001 to take up the position of the American ambassador to Canada, Republican Jane Swift served as acting governor. Several statewide Democratic primaries, including those for attorney general and secretary of the commonwealth, are also being held on Tuesday.
Andrea Campbell, a former member of the Boston City Council, and Shannon Liss-Riordan, an attorney for workers’ rights, are the two Democrats vying for the position of chief law enforcement. Quentin Palfrey, a third candidate who announced he was suspending his candidacy and endorsing Campbell a week before the election, will still be on the ballot.
If elected, Campbell would fill the position of Governor of Massachusetts as the first Black woman. The victor will take on Republican trial lawyer Jay McMahon, who ran against Healey before losing. William Galvin, the current Democratic Secretary of the Commonwealth, is running for an additional eight years. Tanisha Sullivan, a fellow Democrat and the head of the NAACP branch in Boston, is launching a challenge against him. Sullivan would hold that position in the state for the first time by a Black person.
In November, the victor will take on Rayla Campbell, a Republican. Campbell identifies as Black. Additionally, the Democratic and Republican primaries for auditor and lieutenant governor are hotly contested. There are no primary opponents for any of the state’s nine Democratic U.S. House incumbents. In the 8th and 9th congressional districts, there are two competitive Republican primaries.
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