Sep 8, 2022 - Politics

Massachussetts voters opt for a shade of purple

Illustration of a piece of paper with a blue hand pointing left, purple hand pointing up, and red hand pointing right with the purple hand checked off.
Illustration: Victoria Ellis/Axios

Even though progressive Democrats like Maura Healey and Andrea Campbell captured their party's nominations for governor and attorney general respectively yesterday, the primaries were big successes for moderates — relatively speaking.

Driving the news: Democrats explicitly running as the most progressive candidate on the ballot all went down to defeat, while candidates closer to the center prevailed.

Why it matters: Yes, Massachusetts voters rarely choose leaders from outside the Democratic Party, but even in the state with the bluest reputation, candidates further to the left often flame out.

What they're saying: "The center of gravity in Massachusetts often rests with left-of-center Democrats who don't travel in the most progressive lane in contested primaries," writes Commonwealth's Michael Jonas.

The intrigue: The state's top progressive politico, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, had a bad night, writes the Herald's Joe Battenfeld.

  • Warren had expended considerable political capital promoting labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan as the next great liberal attorney general, only to see her lose to Campbell.
  • Warren's 2018 opponent Geoff Diehl proved he's still the darling of the Trump-minded Mass. GOP by beating the more moderate Chris Doughty for the Republicans' gubernatorial nomination.

Liss-Riordan's loss also took some of the shine off Boston Mayor Michelle Wu's potential to become a kingmaker in the state.

  • Liss-Riordan held high-visibility campaign events with Warren and Wu at her side in the days leading up to the election. Healey similarly held joint campaign events with Campbell.
  • Wu's predecessor Marty Walsh had developed a reputation for a "kiss of death" when it came to his endorsements.

The trend continued down the ballot, with moderate Democrat Diana DiZoglio beating the more progressive Chris Dempsey for the auditor nomination.

  • Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll beat back two opponents who wear their progressive bona fides on their sleeves.
  • Secretary of State William Galvin, never a favorite of progressives, handily defeated Boston NAACP president Tanisha Sullivan.
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