First Democrat Drops Out Of Massachusetts Gubernatorial Race

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By Katie Lannan
State House News Service

The first Democrat to officially enter the 2022 governor’s race is now the first to end his campaign.

Former state Senator Benjamin Downing dropped out of the race Tuesday, saying his campaign does “not have the financial resources to continue.”

“While it’s painful to admit, that reality has brought this chapter to a close,” the East Boston Democrat said in a statement. “Just as my work and my responsibility as a citizen did not end when I term limited myself in the Senate, the work of this campaign does not end today. Though my name will not be on the ballot next year, I will keep working for the principles that defined this campaign.”

Downing jumped into the race in February 2021, when Harvard professor Danielle Allen was still exploring a run and sate Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain) had not yet declared her candidacy.

Democrats are still waiting for Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to disclose her 2022 plans, and there is time for other candidates to emerge after Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito (both Republicans) announced earlier this month that they will not run next year.

Downing’s campaign had $32,752 in the bank at the end of November, according to the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance. After raising nearly $200,000 in the first two months of his run, Downing’s monthly fund-raising totals have ranged from roughly $23,000 to $39,000 and over the last five months represented less money than he spent.

Downing had the smallest balance among Democrats in the race, compared to Allen’s $386,270 and Chang-Diaz’s $198,311. Republican candidate Geoff Diehl most recently reported having $58,833 on hand.

Healey, meanwhile, has over the years amassed more than $3.3 million that could be used toward a run for governor or another bid for attorney general, and additional fund raisers were scheduled on her behalf in December. Over the summer, Healey said she planned to “know more by the fall” about her 2022 intentions, a timeline that has since elapsed.

Another potential Democratic candidate, former Boston mayor and current U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, also boasts a hefty balance, with more than $5.1 million at the end of last month.

A critic of Baker and of the pace of action from the state Legislature, Downing represented a Western Massachusetts district in the state Senate for 10 years, becoming the chamber’s point man on clean power before opting not to seek a sixth term in 2016.

“Massachusetts is innovative, but we must ask ‘to what end?’ and reckon with the fact that we are falling far short on the defining issues of this generation — most notably the climate crisis,” Downing said Tuesday, December 28. “We have everything we need to solve the big problems facing us. It is not a single political party that stands in the way, but a culture of complacency that too often prioritizes the comfort of those in power over addressing the challenges of those in need.”

Thanking his supporters, friends, and family, he said he would continue “standing shoulder to shoulder with anyone striving to build a Massachusetts that works for everyone, everywhere.”


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