“I’ve stood with you as the People’s Lawyer, and now I’m running to be your Governor,” Healey said in the video. “To bring us together and come back stronger than ever.”
She met with voters and reporters at her first official campaign stop Thursday morning at the Maverick Square MBTA station in East Boston.
“I’m going to make my case to people it’s about me, Maura, and they’re going to have to evaluate me on my record, what I’ve done, what I say I will do,” Healey said. “Job one will be making sure this economy is back on track.”
For Healey, 50, first elected Attorney General in 2014, the decision ends years of speculation about her political ambitions. The talk went into overdrive on December 1 when Governor Charlie Baker announced he wouldn’t seek re-election.
WBZ-TV political analyst Jon Keller said Healey is about to become the immediate frontrunner, like it or not.
“Nobody necessarily wants to be the frontrunner any earlier than they have to be, because you’re instantly a target,” Keller said.
Healey joins a Democratic primary field that includes Danielle Allen, also 50, a Harvard political scientist who runs the Safra Center for Ethics, and State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, 43, who has represented the Second Suffolk District since 2009.
— Anna Meiler (@AnnaMeiler) January 20, 2022
Former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who had been eyeing a possible run since Baker’s withdrawal, said Thursday night he would not be a candidate. In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Walsh said it was “an honor” to be mentioned but he will remain U.S. Secretary of Labor.
Allies of Walsh said he did not want to compete with Healey for the job. “Every indication I’ve had is that while Walsh has always been interested in being governor one day, he was a state rep for many years, he’s not interested in running against Maura Healey,” Keller said.
Former State Rep. Geoff Diehl, 52, who lost the 2018 U.S. Senate race to Elizabeth Warren, is the only announced GOP candidate.
“Maura Healey’s announcement signals the start of a race by Democrat candidates to double down on these failed policies right here in Massachusetts,” Diehl said in a statement Thursday.
Keller does not see Diehl repeating Baker’s red victory in a blue state.
“Particularly since the lone Republican in the race so far, Geoff Diehl, has tied himself to the S.S. Donald Trump,” Keller said.
Healey enters the race with a large financial edge over Allen and Chang-Diaz, far higher name recognition, and a healthy job-approval rating. But she may take flak for policy positions on criminal justice issues that are unpalatable to some progressives, and she has faced criticism in the past for allegedly failing to aggressively pursue political corruption cases.
If she wins in November, she will be the first sitting attorney general to do so, breaking a chain of failure that includes boldface political names such as Scott Harshbarger, Tom Reilly and Frank Bellotti.
If elected, Healey would be only the third openly gay governor in the country.
“We are the first state to legalize gay marriage, and no one really even talks about it anymore, so I don’t see that as an issue at all,” Keller said.
Both Democrats issued statements welcoming Healey to race and framing their differences.
“In this time of crisis, we need a robust conversation about how our government serves working families and meets our biggest challenges,” Sonia Chang-Diaz said. “Maura and I have differing records when it comes to priorities and governing, and I look forward to her joining the ongoing conversation we’re having with voters across Massachusetts.”
“I’m in this race — and I’ve been in it for a year — to make sure Massachusetts has a real choice,” Danielle Allen said. “A choice between a perspective ready to meet the moment and business as usual.”
The Healey bid for governor comes on the heels of monster wins by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, and Keller is among those who see a trend.
“Where women, people of color are stepping up to seize political power in Massachusetts,” Keller said.
Stay with WBZ News and CBSN Boston throughout 2022 for coverage of this and other developing races along with statewide ballot questions.