Benjamin Downing Raises $100,000 In A Week In Campaign for Governor of Massachusetts

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By Matt Murphy
State House News Service

Benjamin Downing, the former state senator and solar energy executive, raised $100,000 in his first week since launching his campaign for governor last Monday, with roughly three-quarters of those donations coming from people in Massachusetts, according to his campaign.

Downing last week became the first Democrat to officially enter the 2022 race for governor with Republican Gov. Charlie Baker still considering seeking a third term and Lieutenant Karyn Polito waiting in the wings should Baker decide two terms are enough.

The substantial first-week haul for Downing is a promising sign for Democrats, as the 39-year-old was able to raise in one week nearly a quarter of what the party’s 2018 nominee raised in all of 2017, a full year before the election.

Another Democrat who is exploring a run for governor — Harvard University professor and political theorist Danielle Allen — raised $136,595 in her first month in December and another $54,000 in January.

After a poor showing against Baker in 2018, Democrats are in search this cycle for someone who can galvanize the party and bring along independents who have voted for Baker the past two election cycles.

“I’m humbled by the outpouring of support. Every check, every volunteer sign-up, every kind word shared — it’s all going to help us run the kind of 351-community campaign that Massachusetts deserves,” Downing said in a statement to State House News Service.

The Pittsfield native and East Boston resident spent 10 years in the Massachusetts Legislature before joining Nexamp, a Boston-based solar development company, in 2016. His campaign said he is not accepting money from corporate political action committees or lobbyists, not even from those who represent progressive, Democrat-aligned organizations like Planned Parenthood.

The Downing campaign said more than 40 percent of its donations came through online channels such as its web site, links shared through social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook, and through the Democrat’s email list. Downing has not put any of his own money into the campaign, his campaign said.

“We are channeling these resources into building a deep and inclusive grassroots team in every corner of the Commonwealth and bringing people together who believe that this state needs better, more urgent leadership, now more than ever,” Downing said.

The ability of Democratic candidates to raise money will be watched closely after the party’s 2018 nominee Jay Gonzalez struggled to raise the funds he needed to compete with a well-financed Baker campaign.

In comparison to Downing, Gonzalez raised just $442,025 in all of 2017, including almost $79,000 in his first month after announcing his campaign at the end of January 2017.

Deval Patrick, who held the third-floor corner office at the Massachusetts State House for eight years for Democrats, raised $282,580 in April 2005, the month he declared his candidacy. Over the prior three months that year while he explored a campaign as a relatively unknown attorney, Patrick collected $84,534 in donations in addition to the $100,000 check he wrote himself to get started.

Downing may be the only declared candidate in the 2022 race at this point, but he told State House News Service last week that eventually he expects the Democratic field to become crowded.

Despite being a former elected official, Downing starts this campaign from scratch after closing his campaign account in 2017 and donating the last $20,000 to his alma mater Providence College to create a scholarship fund.

Many in the party are also watching to see if Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey decides to get into the race. Healey’s campaign is sitting on $582,734 in the bank, which is comparable to the $589,541 that Baker has in the bank.

Polito, meanwhile, has built a war chest of nearly $1.59 million, and former Republican state representative Geoff Diehl of Whitman, who is reportedly considering running for the GOP nomination, would be starting from zero.